Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Trump's road to re-election: Damage Joe Biden and tout his economy

Donald Trump's road to re-election is to damage his most feared opponent, Joe Biden,  so that even Democrats fall for it. That explains the GOP fixation on  Hunter Biden in the impeachment trial. They however had a stretch to prove the link that implicated Joe Biden, relying on circumstantial and coincidental timelines of his actions and words.  Trump is putting his eggs in one basket: trumpeting an economy that is booming.  However, that strategy does have black caution flags waving. Most Americans believe the nation is on a wrong track, always a bad sign for an incumbent per a recent poll.

The overarching message of Trump supporters, "it is the economy stupid",  is based on the belief the strong economy will outweigh any of his negatives from disgust with his character, to his White  Nationalism, to his bailouts of agriculture needed by his protectionist trade policies, to his pro-Russian inclinations in foreign policy,. Even with the bailout, farm bankruptcies are up 20% hitting family farms the hardest.   Exposed in the impeachment process was his unethical,  outside the law conduct damaging the nation's security interests whenever it benefitted him and benefits him personally in the future.

Trump may be able to make a strong case with the well-heeled but his economy also is showing weaknesses.    Ronald Reagan's famous: "are you better off today than...." question is critical.  Disturbing to the GOP should be a  November poll in the Financial Times.  Only roughly 1/3 of voters nation-wide believe they are better off since Trump took office.  The GOP is starting with warning flags flying as voters take a reality check. The effect of the Trump economy has been uneven with the rich getting richer and everyone else less so.   What really counts is whether the grassroots feel they are better off, especially those in the five or six states in the industrial midwest responsible for swinging to Trump in 2016. Those states provided the electoral college margins that put Trump in the White House. To ignore that geographic fact would be political malpractice.

Trump is right to fear Biden. He looks good on paper and in polls, but how he performs in the state by state primaries and caucuses and on super Tuesday will be more important.  The fight for the electoral college, the only vote that counts, will take place in the industrial east/midwest, as it did in 2016.  Biden has the blue-collar credentials and a long history of his connection with his roots and voters. He does not have to channel blue-collar, middle-class anger with rhetoric because his credentials with those voters are well established during his years in the public arena.  He is also supported by the overwhelming percentage and voter turnout activists in the African-American community he needs to win the nomination.  So long as he maintains evidence in the polls he is the most likely to continue getting their support. They are pragmatic. That minorities complain they have been cut out of the Democratic party nomination process need to consider their own minority candidates did not get their support early in the process even before the party kept changing the debate participant criteria.  I constantly hear comments in the media and in circles of friends from those who are independents or are disillusioned members of the Republican party might consider voting for a Democrat "if it was the right one like Biden".   Splitting Biden's vote are a number of moderate candidates in the caucus/primary races who could also reach the independents and turned-off Republicans. The two billionaires in the race are also vying for those moderate and middle of the road voters.   Few Democrats, though, in a general election, have Biden's trifecta of appeal.  Bernie Sanders has added one very important additional sector to his economic populist appeal: younger voters, and so far they have been strong enough factors to challenge Biden. Sanders but he loses in his appeal to moderates and the middle and older African Americans who drive their voters' turnout. in primaries and the general.

Those candidates viewed being more liberal and making more radical changes in the economy  such  as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are a major force and are splitting the more progressive voters.    Sanders' self-designation as a socialist would be a deal killer for the swing-voting moderates and independents.  Warren who is not handicapped with the socialist brand could be acceptable to both wings as their second choice if the party gets hopelessly split down the middle. Therein lies her strength as a  potential compromise candidate.

From my Nov. 5, 2019,  blog posting that discusses this theme in greater detail, reproduced here.
The impact of the impeachment action is yet to be seen and may not, in the long run, but it could the determining factors, contributing to the disgust and character turnoffs of Trump.  The Senate trial began with those wanting Trump removed at 51%. in national public polls. The key is in 6 battleground states which is what counts in the electoral college. One advantage in getting impeachment out of the way before 2020 begins in earnest is for Democrats to go for the President's weakness: he wants to make those in the battleground states worse off by repealing affordable healthcare insurance for the lower middle class, tie them and their children to the millstone of student debt, note the Trump administration is wedded to big pharmaceuticals' high costs and removing coverage of pre-existing conditions. They should take a page from their 2018 win and go about showing suburban women how Trump is not in their court, including supreme court choices who want to turn back the clock to a time before Roe v Wade.  Pocketbook issues that count can be added to the "disgust" factor" with Trump's character in a way that may offset his followers devoted to his anti-immigrant and racist stance in the exact swing states he must win in order to win in the electoral college. Remember: national polls are a mirage. Democrats usually win those, but only what counts will be the electoral college vote based on individual states.

From the Hill posting: "The Financial Times-Peterson poll released in November found that almost two-thirds of Americans said their finances haven’t gotten better since Trump has taken office.
"Thirty-one percent of respondents in the new poll said their finances have gotten worse since Trump won the White House, while 33 percent said their finances haven’t gotten better or worse in the same time frame.
"Just over one-third, 35 percent, of respondents did say they have seen a positive change in their finances since Trump took office.
"Of those who said their financial situation has worsened since Trump took office, 36 percent said their wages are to blame, while 19 percent blamed their personal or family debts."
The poll also showed an even split amongst likely voters over whether Trump’s policies help or hurt the U.S. economy. Forty-five percent of those polled said they believe Trump's policies have improved the economy, while another 45 percent said they’ve worsened the economy."
That is an interesting contradiction.  Even some of those who do not see they are better off or are worse off under Trump still think Trump's policies have improved the economy.  Politicians who think that voters are only interested in their own financial situation will vote on behalf of their own self-centered interest may overlook the optimism of hope, that others are benefitting and they may too, sometime.  That is the value of full employment, some income security even if they get laid off.  The downside to that is that they may have to take a cut in wages or income and they know that even wages are beginning to increase and minimum wage laws are gaining popularity.  What that may mean for Democrats is that their candidate should not threaten economic trends that they like, and still make their economic lives better.

 While the progressive left talks about how they would make their lives better, the cost of their proposals and shaking root and branch of the economic system with increasing debt, there is an uneasiness within those with hope and feeling positive about their gains will be threatened.  They want both: the gains and the betterment.  That may explain why Biden and Bloomberg are showing polling strength, Warren has faded, and Sanders appears peaked with a set number of dedicated supporters. It is a balancing act and many know it. They are asking themselves do they want to take risks or be cautious.

No comments:

Post a Comment