More and more news, polls, and predictors are speculating that Trump will both survive his first term and win again in 2020.
It is difficult for about 60% of all Americans to both imagine that possibility and to stomach it. How can a person as unpopular as Trump pull that off?
The answer is that it would depend largely on who the other candidate turns out to be.
So let’s run through the possibilities:
JOE BIDEN: A lot of people think today that he would have beaten Trump in 2016. In 2020 he will be 78. No one that age has ever been nominated or elected. While it may not be impossible, it is surely VERY unlikely.
NANCY PELOSI: If the movement to end her Speakership says anything, it probably suggests that, though she is well known and an expert legislator, she lacks the standing to run for President. And she is no spring chicken either.
SCHUCK SCHUMER: He is a savvy politician, though not known as an effective speaker or campaigner. He is quite an unlikely Presidential candidate.
BERNIE SANDERS: He had his day in the sun in 2016 and almost surely peaked. That said, he still may try to run one more time, but by election time, he will be 79.
ELIZABETH WARREN: It seems clearer all the time that she is proving to be a very clever Senator, but lacks the gravitas and management expertise to control the whole gamut of the Executive Branch.
KAMALA HARRIS: She has proved a tenacious proponent of the Russia investigation as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Her aggressive, prosecutorial manner could prove a powerful asset in today’s world of no-holds-barred partisan warfare.
KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: She has been making a name for herself during the emergence of the #MeToo movement, and while she previously ruled out a run, she has set herself up as something of an archenemy for Trump. Her newfound prominence could prove too powerful to ignore.
ADAM SCHIFF: He has had a lot of exposure as the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and is clearly very smart, balanced, and serious. Despite that he seems quite short on charisma for someone from left field.
ANDREW CUOMO: He has been roughed up a lot in recent New York political scuffles (primarily over the Moreland Commission and his management of the MTA) and has a lot of negatives. He likely will give it a try but seems also to be a quite unlikely possibility.
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: An experienced, capable Senator from Connecticut. He has had a lot of exposure but comes across as trial lawyer more than politician. However, the fact that he comes from a small state is unlikely to help his chances.
COREY BOOKER: He is an interesting, though still quite remote possibility. His Newark experiences no doubt left him with some raw edges and spots, which also cast doubt on his executive capabilities.
OPRAH WINFREY: May be the most interesting out of the liberal possibilities. The core of her professional successes has been extraordinary political instincts. She is surely smart enough; she is tough; everybody knows her. And she could take as a running mate one of the great younger possibilities. She just might be a Democratic version of Reagan.
JOHN KASICH: Far from perfect overall, but an excellent candidate who has been at odds with Trump from the beginning. He could be a first important step in creating a new political coalition of centrist Democrats and Republicans who the rest of the Democrats—who hate Trump—could not resist. His anti-choice stance could get him in real trouble with the base, however.
AND THEN: there are a dozen or more SPECTACULAR younger members of the House—both men and women—almost all with some sort of important military and/or public service record and who, with sufficient exposure and experience, will be fabulous Presidential candidates at some point in the future. Seth Moulton from the Massachusetts 6th is perhaps the leading example.
It comes down to exposure, age, timing and the contrast with Trump. For that reason no sane person can yet say “Trump will definitely get reelected.”
If I were to place a bet today, it would be on Oprah Winfrey.