US President Donald Trump has formally launched his re-election campaign, addressing thousands of supporters at a rally in Florida. Based on past experience, normally a favorable economy and incumbency favors a sitting president. And election analysts are charting a path by which Donald Trump could repeat his 2016 victory, said Robert Legvold, Marshall D. Shulman Professor Emeritus, Columbia University, and Director of the Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative, in an interview with www.valdaiclub.com.
No Republicans are able to challenge Trump in the primaries. William Weld, the former moderate Republican governor, has indicated a willingness to run against Trump, but he has gained no traction. All other potential candidates are intimidated by Trump's apparent grip on the Republican Party's core base of voters.
As to Democrats, there are now 23 declared Democratic candidates. It is unlikely many, if any, more will enter. And the debate process that begins later this month as well as the challenge of generating adequate popular and financial support is likely to narrow this list rather quickly. At the moment, despite Joe Biden's lead in the early polls, it is absolutely impossible to predict who the top one or two candidates will be by next summer.
There are several factors that can make Trump's re-election difficult — economics, migration, Democratic criticism, foreign policy, confrontation with Iran. This is where the uncertainties enter. In the 2018 congressional bi-election the negative impact of his personal character and behavior was apparently decisive, and explains why a majority of voters turned against him, and elected a Democratically-controlled House of Representatives. At the same time 25-30% of the electorate appears willing to forgive anything he does or says, because they like what they think he is doing to address their grievances and feed their biases. If he can somehow expand that percentage to, say, 40-45% of the vote, combined with the vagaries of our electoral system, he could win.
A war with Iran will be a massive tragedy. In terms of its impact on the presidential race, it might, as is usually the case, initially create a "rally-around-the-flag" effect that would assist Trump. But that is likely to disappear very quickly, and, indeed, may not be there from the start. The U.S. population still has the Iraq war and other U.S. entanglements very much in mind.
The “Russian card” in the 2020 election campaign
Democratic candidates, when they stress a hard-line toward Russia, are not simply or primarily playing a political card. They have a genuinely critical view of Russian actions, particularly the involvement of Russian actors--whether official or not--in U.S. politics and elections, and they, like many of their Republican colleagues, are deeply suspicious of what they see as Trump's weakness on this issue.