I have no idea if Trump will win reelection, but for those who despise him one has to wonder why it is even as close as it is. The same question was ignored in 2016; why was an ‘inexperienced ignorant buffoon’ winning over a well-connected experienced Hillary Clinton with the overwhelming support of the non-Fox press?
Anti-Trump pundits wished for a recession to help unseat him, tacitly acknowledging the success of his economic policies. Well, they got far more than they wanted, and it may not be enough.
Where is his support coming from?
His support among Black men and Hispanics is rising. These groups are not monolithic and do not follow the prescriptions of white woke liberals. How maddening would it be for the left to see Trump propelled to victory with minority votes? How do they reconcile this with the presumption of his racism?
In June the Floyd riots attracted empathy from all corners of America. Months later Democratically controlled cities are still in turmoil and violent crime has sharply increased. Few are persuaded that this remains Trump’s fault. Blacks are among the biggest increase in new gun purchases, indicating that they are concerned about the lack of support for police. Most Blacks who live and work in urban areas do not support the notion of defunding the police.
Public safety can trump economic and other social concerns.
In The Great Revolt Selena Zito noted that the sharp increase in women gun owners in the Midwest proved to be a tailwind to his unexpected success in the region.
The left has not recognized the damage done to their credibility by the Jacobin mob at the Kavanaugh hearing. The GOP picked up two Senate seats as a result of their miscalculation. Amy Barrett will be much harder to attack, but they will try anyway.
The public now holds the press in such low regard that its influence on swing voters is greatly compromised. The best they can do is to peddle their outrage to get the base out. Everyone likes the flavor of their Kool-Aid, but it comes in several flavors.
The 2018 midterms swung left, but most of the Democrats elected were more moderate that the firebrands who get most of their press. Whether the conservative suburban women who rejected Trump in the midterms will transfer their support to candidates that have shifted farther left is questionable. Whether their support for a centrist Democratic House member in 2018 will translate into support for the national ticket of Kamala Harris and Biden remains to be seen. It depends on how well Biden can distance himself from the radical left.
The intellectual conservatives who rejected Trump in 2016- particularly the National Review staff and George Will- proved to have little influence. Many conservatives who did not vote for Trump in 2016 clearly will in 2020. Many still detest his substantial character flaws but fear the radical tilt of the Democratic party in the face of civil unrest much more. I sense little erosion in his base.
The illiberal politically correct, identity politics, cancel culture was behind his first success and these forces only seem to have become worse. You do not persuade just because you have silenced someone, and the voting booth is the ultimate safe space. Political power requires the building of coalitions; identity politics is the opposite.
Will these factors outweigh the visceral hatred of Trump from the left that will drive their turnout? We will shortly see, but even if Trump loses, the revolt against the elite that brought him into office will remain.