Donald Trump’s luck hasn’t run out – and this is why says PATRICK BASHAM
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Donald Trump's luck hasn't run out - and this is why says PATRICK BASHAM

PUBLISHED: 22:01, Sat, Jun 6, 2020

Donald Trump’s luck hasn’t run out – and this is why, says PATRICK BASHAM
Most Americans dislike Donald Trump – a lot. They don’t like his style, his ego, or his name-calling. They don’t want to have a drink with him. They certainly don’t want him to babysit their kids. Yet, there’s a very good chance they will reelect him in November.
Patrick-Basham- democracyinstitute

Most Americans dislike Donald Trump – a lot

The Democracy Institute’s new poll for the Sunday Express finds Trump in a very competitive race for the national popular vote with his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden. But American presidential elections aren’t national votes. They’re decided by separate elections in each of the 50 states that make up the Electoral College.

The Electoral College is Trump’s best friend. It’s weighted in favour of the smaller, rural states where Trump’s most popular and is weighted against the larger, urban states where he’s least popular.

Luckily for Trump, he can be reelected in the Electoral College while losing the popular vote (as in 2016). Biden needs to beat Trump by a few points in the popular vote to overcome Trump’s Electoral College advantage.

President Dwight Eisenhower said, “I’d rather have a lucky general than a smart general. They win battles.” As a candidate, Trump’s been lucky twice. Four years ago, he faced off with charmless Hillary Clinton, then mired in scandal and hobbled by campaign rust, which negated Trump’s own vulnerabilities.

Today, in Biden, he’s facing a career politician who first ran for president in the 1980s. His campaigning skills have demonstrably withered on the vine. Today, he’s truly a gaffe machine.

Trump’s other advantage is perceived presidential leadership, including his positions on America’s most daunting challenges. Our poll confirms Americans see Trump as a strong leader. In a crisis, voters are looking for decisive leadership. They want to believe that the person at the top is taking charge and making difficult, but necessary, decisions to protect lives, restore jobs, and maintain order – and to defend America against the Chinese.

Americans were sickened by the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis

Americans were sickened by the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis (Image: Getty)
Most Americans, reluctantly in some cases, think Trump is that person. They neither blame him for the COVID-19 pandemic nor the riots that scarred America’s urban landscape in recent days. And, they are fearful for their personal safety and their livelihoods.

Trump’s tough, politically incorrect “law and order” stance on the riots, vilified by the mainstream media, is actually playing rather well with ordinary Americans. The overwhelming majority were sickened by the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. They respect the right to peaceful protest.

But, as protest begat rioting, looting, and the loss of life, Trump sensed the rapidly shifting public mood and called out big city mayors and governors for failing to protect their citizens. Most Americans agree, including a good many Democrats. We find Black men, a cornerstone of the Democratic coalition, taking a serious look at Trump’s candidacy. Should one-in-five vote for Trump, his reelection is guaranteed.

For months, still-employed Americans have worried about losing their jobs, and unemployed Americans were afraid of not getting another one. Coincidentally, our final night of polling took place after stunningly positive news on the jobs front was broadcast all day on Friday.

With unemployment already falling again, Americans are quietly optimistic about their nation’s and their own economic situation. They seem open to the Trump campaign’s pitch that the best person to rebuild the American economy is the guy who got it into such great shape in the first place.

Unlike Trump, Biden is well-liked

Biden may be vulnerable on leadership, China, and a weak response to the recent violence, but he remains a plausible winner. Unlike Trump, Biden is well-liked. Avuncular Uncle Joe’s always prided himself on his common touch and he’s someone with whom most Americans would happily share an adult beverage.

He’s also seen as a consensus-building conciliator who would bring calm and decorum to the White House. Many voters would welcome a respite from the tribal food fight that characterises national politics.

Biden’s biggest hurdle will be overcoming Trump’s principal advantage. Our poll finds an enormous enthusiasm gap between the candidates. Trump’s voters are incredibly eager to vote for the president. Biden’s voters are largely voting against a president they despise.

For Biden to win, he must convince most voters that presidential style should trump policy. It’s certainly doable. It just won’t be as easy as many assume.

Patrick Basham is director of the Democracy Institute in Washington DC

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