Is Trump the Favorite in 2020?

Is Trump the Favorite in 2020?

Some say Donald Trump is a clear favorite for re-election next year, while others insist that unless the Democrats nominate Leon Trotsky to take him on, he'll probably lose. A new CNN poll released this week found that 54% of respondents say Trump will win a second term.

There's persuasive evidence on both sides of this debate. Consider…


Trump will win, because…

  • …incumbency is a big advantage in US presidential elections. Only twice in the past 87 years (1980 and 1992) has a president lost his bid for re-election. (Note: you can't count Gerald Ford in 1976. He was never elected president in the first place.)
  • …the US economy is riding high. No president seeking re-election in the past 100 years has lost unless the US economy was in recession two years before the vote.
  • …the data is on his side. Combine the incumbency advantage with a strong economy, and you can see why a number of respected mathematical models are predicting a Trump victory.

Trump will lose because…

  • …with a president as broadly unpopular as he is, the normal rules don't apply. He's the first president in the era of modern polling who has never enjoyed an aggregate approval rating of at least 50%.
  • ...he's the least popular president of the past 38 years. On Day 867 of his presidency (Wednesday), Trump's aggregate approval rating was 41.9%. Compare that with 72.8% for George HW Bush, 62.2% for George W. Bush, 49.3% for Bill Clinton, 48.2% for Barack Obama, and 45.4% for Ronald Reagan.
  • …he's unpopular where it matters. It's the "swing states," not the national vote, that decide who wins the White House. In new polls released this week, Trump's net approval ratings (approval minus disapproval) were 0 in Florida, -4 in North Carolina, -4 in Ohio, -6 in Arizona, -7 in Pennsylvania, -12 in Iowa, -12 in Michigan, and -13 in Wisconsin. In 2016, Trump won all those states.
  • His base isn't big enough by itself to lift him to victory, while swing voters are losing faith in him. In the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats won nationally by a 7-point margin – and a recent study suggests that nearly 90 percent of the national margin of victory for Democrats in those midterms came from voters who chose Trump in 2016 and then switched to Democrats two years later.

What neither side knows…

The election is still 17 months away, an eternity in today's politics. We don't know who the Democrats will nominate to run against him (Trotsky isn't available) or how independent and third-party candidates might impact the race, particularly in important individual states. We don't know what the US economy will look like—though there are early signs of pessimism--or whether an international crisis might change the US political temperature.

Buckle up: This will be a presidential race unlike any other. And the first debate among the (very many) Democratic candidates is just three weeks away.

Ken Burns discusses Muhammad Ali's background and how the journey of boxing's greatest champion is just as relevant today—in sport, culture and beyond.

"He is speaking to us with a kind of force and clarity...that to me is just so enduring." - Ken Burns

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Why is Haiti still so poor and disaster-prone?

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For Michael Chertoff, former US secretary of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009, the fact that America has not experienced a single attack by foreign terrorists since 9/11 proves that the US was "successful" in its strategy to prevent terrorism. That "was not [an] accident and there was a deterrent effect to be honest — had we been lax, more would have tried." Although he admits the US government wasn't transparent enough about the intelligence it was collecting, Chertoff credits US intelligence agencies with helping to foil the plot to blow up airplanes mid-air from Heathrow to the US in 2006. The US mission in Iraq, or what came after was not clearly thought out, according to Michael Chertoff, who served as the Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush. The Iraq war made it difficult to focus on the US mission in Afghanistan and absorbed resources that could have been used more effectively elsewhere, he said.

Watch the full episode: Is America safer since 9/11?

Listen: In a frank interview on the GZERO World podcast, António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, speaks with Ian Bremmer at the UN ahead of the annual General Assembly week. Guterres discusses COVID, climate, the US-China rift, and the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, and does not mince words when it comes to the dire state of the world. "We are standing at the edge of an abyss," Guterres warns. COVID is "defeating" the global community and a climate catastrophe is all but assured without drastic action. Amidst this unprecedented peril, there remains a startling lack of trust among nations. And yet, there is still hope.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.


"Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still." — Harry S. Truman

The former US president's warning feels particularly prescient as world leaders prepare to gather at the 76th United National General Assembly in New York City, the first such in-person event in over 18 months. The importance of apt leadership in determining societies' ability to cope — and survive — has been on full display since COVID-19 enveloped the globe, decimating communities and killing some 4.5 million people.

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One of them — included in the UN Secretary-General's new Common Agenda for strong, inclusive pandemic recovery — is a different way to measure economic growth beyond the traditional productivity-led GDP model by taking more into account the cost of pollution, one of the main causes of climate change.

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For UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the pandemic has made the world even more divided than it was before COVID. That's especially true on climate, in his view, because rich and poor countries simply don't trust each other anymore. If we want COP26 to succeed, Guterres says we must rebuild that trust — or face the consequences of inaction. "If you are on the verge of an abyss, you must be careful about your next step." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

"Pandemic" was the most used word of 2020. "Delta" looks set to inherit this year's title.

Vaccination rates are ticking up slowly. Governments aren't talking to each other enough. Parts of the world are back to normal, while others are still locked down.

Have we actually made any progress since the COVID-19 outbreak?


Unfinished Business: Is the World Really Building Back Better?

Wednesday, September 22nd, 11am ET/ 8am PT

Our speakers:

Special appearance by António Guterres, UN Secretary-General.

Visit gzeromedia.com/globalstage to watch on the day of the event.

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UNGA 76: Vaccines, climate, crises

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