Will Trump Win a Second Term?

On June 18, 2019, US President Donald Trump officially announced his intention to run for a second term in office and started his election campaign. Although many American voters approve of his harsh rhetoric and domestic initiatives, according to polls, his rating is lower than that of many of the Democratic candidates. What are the chances that Trump will win? Will it depend on who his competitors are? What role can the “Russian card” play?

The announcement Trump made about his intention to seek a second term in office on Tuesday in Florida was more of a ceremony than a news item. He has collected funds and made preparatory work for the purpose, so there are no surprises. As for the prospects of his re-election, it is still too early to say at this stage of the American election campaign. Recent campaigns show that the likely winner will be determined months or weeks before the vote.

Trump’s victory depends on several factors. First, it is his “baggage” and “track record”, which he has already gained or will gain, because the main trump cards of the current president are what he has already done. Second, this depends on how the Democrats develop the election campaign. Now they are repeating the mistakes that the Republicans made four years ago, which allowed Donald Trump to come to power. The Democrats are putting forward too many candidates, and it will be difficult for a strong candidate to arise from among their number.

One of the Democratic leaders is Joseph Biden, Obama’s vice president, but things are not going well for him: he is already very old, and it is difficult for him to navigate when there are so many young, active and intelligent candidates who oppose him. In addition, the system in the United States assumes that each candidate must submit a detailed report on the activities of their campaign headquarters, including fundraising, and the first reports appeared in late April. Biden announced his intention to run for the presidency after that, and his resources are less known than those of other candidates, while Bernie Sanders has already collected a lot of money and is conducting a very active campaign. However, according to polls, he is now in second place after Biden.

During the four or five months that the election campaign has lasted, the favourites changed several times. At first, a Democrat from Texas had a knack, who in the last mid-term elections almost snatched victory from Ted Cruz with a margin of only 1.5-2%. This is a very big indicator of trust that he could use, although his popularity is now fading. The popularity of a man named Pete Buttidzic, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is growing. Interestingly, he is openly gay and the first-ever veteran to have served after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to run for president. He has an interesting biography, and now he is gaining popularity points.

It must be noted that a lot of women are running. According to the latest polls, the popularity of Massachusetts Congresswoman Elizabeth Warren is starting to grow. She had a chance to run back in 2016, but decided to leave the race at the very beginning to make way for Hillary Clinton. Other popular candidates include Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, California Senator Kristen Gilibrand, and New York Senator Kamala Harris. At the end of June, the first round of the scheduled TV debates will take place, which can be considered the first political battle of 2020 election campaign.

At the moment, Donald Trump is polling lower than these prominent Democratic candidates. However, the US election is a very complex process, which includes several stages. This is only the first stage. Next winter, in 2020, the Democrats will begin the primaries, and in summer the main candidates will be determined. Between then and November, there will be a final stretch, during which Trump will fight against one of them.

Trump’s rhetoric has fallen on fertile ground regarding immigrants, the construction of the wall, the issue of tariffs and protectionism, and he is supported by many voters. Among his fulfilled election promises, tax reform can play into his hands, although it may be forgotten before the elections. What won’t be forgotten is the repeal of Obamaсare – the law on health care. At first Trump tried to eliminate this law, then to reform it, and it is not clear how this process will end. Of course, the “Russian hackers” should be mentioned. Although the investigation by Special Counsel Mueller has ended, the Democrats do not want to close this topic, and since everything is so opaque and nobody can be caught red-handed, it gives rise to a lot of speculations. We can assume that the topic of communication with Russia will still be addressed, and not once. What is doubtful is that this topic can bring points to someone: as the mid-term elections of 2018 have shown, it’s impossible to secure votes by using this topic alone. The agenda cannot be exclusively negative; the candidates need to talk about what is good and what will happen.

As for the position of Russia regarding the 2020 US elections, this is a very sensitive topic. Russia should be impartial and not express any preferences in favour of this or that candidate. Moscow’s position is that it is ready for a dialogue with any legitimate authority that comes to the White House. There have been no specific statements or rhetoric about this. It is necessary to understand, that in the USA any statements on foreign policy issues can be made by a candidate who has already created a foreign policy team. During the election campaign this plays a much smaller role than domestic issues that directly concern every American voter. Therefore, the significance of this topic will be no more than before, and with respect to Russia conclusions can be made no sooner than in a year.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.