Regardless of voter personal opinions of Trump, he is in command of the news cycles, and therefore he can move his own numbers. Watch him do it. Whether it's enough to win or not is certainly, with 512 days left, not set in concrete. But neither is Trump's re-election loss cake baked. Not by a long shot.
There are 512 days until Election Day. That’s just under 17 months, or just over 73 weeks. Every week is at least one or two major news cycles. Practically every news cycle has a story centered around President Trump. That’s approximately 132 news cycles for the president between now and Election Day.
Every news cycle, driven by Trump, can make his numbers go up, or make them go down. Every time the president does something, he learns something about his target audience–voters he needs to win in 2020. Don’t think just because Donald J. Trump is a glandular, rapacious, opportunistic narcissist means he isn’t very astute at gauging who he needs to win votes from in order to remain in office.
There is a steady core of voters who don’t like the president, in varying degrees from hysteria to mere disdain. There’s also a steady core of voters (discounting Twitter trolls and white supremacists) who will vote for Trump in 2020 because they’ve already decided, for various reasons, that he’s the best or only choice they have.
And there’s a striated group from whom various coalitions of Trump 2020 voters can be drawn. Some of these are currently against the president, but without any realistic option but to stay home; some are truly undecided; and some are waiting for more information.
Key to this is those 132 news cycles. Look at this week alone. We had market jitters over 5 to 25% tariffs against Mexico. Now, over the weekend, while the markets were silent, those tariffs disappeared. What do you think the markets will do today? How do you think that will make people feel about their 401(k) accounts.
People who feel stable with their savings and retirement tend to listen and understand when socialists who want to destabilize markets and tax corporations that pay their salaries and pensions run on “free stuff.” Regardless of how much youthful support these ideas have, paychecks and retirement accounts speak very loudly.
Having a giant field of Democrats is also playing into Trump’s corner. He gets 132 swings at the plate, while at best, most Democrats might get 20. Even Joe Biden won’t get more than 50 or so, because he’s so stable and Smilin-Joe vanilla, he can’t command the kind of outrage Trump himself used to disrupt the Republican field in 2016.
Ben LaBolt, who was President Obama’s campaign national press secretary in 2012, thinks Trump can win.
Presidents who have recently won reelection seeded their victories not in the final sprint before Election Day, but by executing a two-year campaign to exploit a contentious primary on the other side, reconnect with their base of supporters, and define the election as a choice, not a referendum. I served as the national press secretary on President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, when we used that strategy to great effect. Now I’m watching President Trump executing the same strategy that powered Obama to reelection, while the Democratic organizations that could answer him have left an open playing field in the battleground states where the election will be decided. [emphasis mine.]
The same strategies of social media engagement that Obama used in 2010-2012 to great effect are now being used by Trump. Of course, Trump using them generates genuine outrage over “fake news” by the left and its media lapdogs. But it was brilliant when Obama did it. Regardless of who is driving the strategy, it does work.
“If Democrats don’t act now,” LaBolt concludes, “the Trump campaign will define the general election on its own terms, before we can even choose our nominee.”
Trump’s approval numbers sway very little given all the news cycles and spin cycles about him.
Notice Trump’s approval numbers generally held between 35 and 45 percent, and the swings are even sort of predictable on a monthly pendulum swing. Just like Trump did in 2016, he can generate his own buzz and swing his numbers up or down. He can “pull forward” demand or delay an upswing by doing something that the experts say is wildly stupid.
With Trump, it’s very seat-of-the-pants gut-following. But the gut knows its audience, and Trump knows what voters he has to reach.
With Democrats doing a lot of navel-gazing to determine who will get the lance with which to unhorse Trump, it’s the president who can use those 132 news cycles to define the race, and his opponents, as a stark choice between economic stability, diplomatic strength, and the devil you know, versus just the devil in Democrat clothing.
Regardless of voter personal opinions of Trump, he is in command of the news cycles, and therefore he can move his own numbers. Watch him do it. Whether it’s enough to win or not is certainly, with 512 days left, not set in concrete. But neither is Trump’s re-election loss cake baked. Not by a long shot.