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HORIST: Can Trump continue to be unpopular and win re-election? Probably.

HORIST: Can Trump continue to be unpopular and win re-election?  Probably.

I constantly get asked why I like President Trump … why I am always defending him.  Well … I don’t and I don’t.  Anyone who has read my commentaries knows that I am one of those who separate the Trump personality from the policies of his administration – including his Cabinet — as opposed to the totally unacceptable people, philosophy, proposals and policies advanced by the contemporary Democratic Party.

I have never been overly fond of Trump’s personality.  He is too pugnacious and too needlessly combative, in my judgment.  He says too many things that are obviously and inexplicably inaccurate.  That does not mean I want him to be an establishment wuss.  I like that he is an untraditional and disruptive President.  I believe he can be all that without being a name-calling braggart.  I think he wastes time and credibility by getting into peeing contests with low-influence celebrities. I find the name calling very unattractive in anyone – and especially a President.

I have long contended that had Trump been a bit less controversial and abrasive, he would have won the popular vote.  At the time of the 2016 election, Republicans were on a roll.  First, it was the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014.  By the time 2016 rolled around, the GOP had two-thirds of the governorships and state legislatures – plus and increase of thousands of other state and local offices.  The Party was poised to sweep into the White House by a landslide proportion.

While Trump did win the nomination against all odds, his nomination was as much the result of a large divided Republican field as his own popularity.  In fact, most Republicans preferred someone else. That is just the dynamic of multi-candidate races.  Had the other candidates not divided the vote in those early primaries, Trump would have likely fallen by the wayside.

That is not to suggest that Trump did not win the nomination fair and square – or that he did not have a significant appeal to a large base – up to 35 percent.  But his victory in securing the nomination was as much the way the cards fell as to how well he played his hand.

His victory was not an accident, however.  He and his team showed more political savvy than they get credit for.  He did not win because of Russian meddling.  He won because he (1) tapped into a national desire to disrupt the arrogant and oppressive establishment in Washington that amassed power and fortune for themselves while failing to provide good public service to we the people and (2) because his team understood how to use social media to identify and motivate Republicans and independents in the key battleground states.

Jared Kushner was the genius who essentially ignored the popularity polls to focus on an Electoral College strategy.  Team Trump won what was widely reported to be Hillary Clintons’ “firewall” in the industrial states of the Midwest.  When the press, pundits and politicians summarily declared that Trump had “no path to the presidency,” they discovered that he had one, indeed – and that it ran right through the highly proclaimed firewall.

The most important factor in the Trump victory, however, was the unpopularity of the Democrat candidate and the rejection of the more-of-the-same policies.  For all the fawning praise Clinton got from the left-leaning political establishment, she was a terrible … awful … hapless campaigner.  She projected an arrogant air of entitlement devoid of a popular platform.

To make matters worse, her team played out an incompetent strategy – one based on the assumption that she could not lose.  That is why Clinton never set foot in Wisconsin – and why the campaign maintained a New York/California mentality.  They never seemed to understand why a hitherto obscure socialist senator, Bernie Sanders, was actually gaining traction.

Trump is possibly the most unpopular candidate to ever win a presidential election – arguably with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln, who won his first election with LESS than 40 percent of the popular vote.  Like Trump, Lincoln did much better in the Electoral College, where he won 60 percent of the electoral vote.

If you look at the popular vote and how a very few votes in any one of the major industrial states could have flipped that state and the election, you must admit that Trump squeaked through.  He entered office as the legitimate President – despite the whining of the #NeverTrump Resistance Movement – but not with a great public mandate.

So, what does all that mean for 2020?

Three political omens of tough sailing ahead for Trump.  One has been his relatively low favorable rating.  It is not critically low.  Other presidents have had popularity ratings below 50 percent, but unlike Trump, they had spikes over 50 percent at times.  Trump has fluctuated between 35 and 45 percent.

The second omen is the loss of the House of Representatives in 2018.  It is true that Presidents often suffer a setback in their first midterm election, but this one lost too many districts that Trump carried.  To some extent, the election was a referendum on the Trump presidency.

The other dark cloud over the Trump presidency is his certain impeachment.  It is unlikely that Trump will be thrown out of office by the Republican-controlled Senate – and there will be ample time and opportunity to turn the events back onto the Democrats –  but it is never a good thing to get impeached so close to an election.

It is very unlikely that Trump will suddenly become a widely popular President … so the headline question.  Can he get re-elected with low favorables?  The answer is “yes.”  In fact, even at this early stage, I would say that he is the odds-on favorite to win.

In many ways, we appear to be re-creating 2016.  Once again Democrats – and especially the hardcore #NeverTrump Resistance Movement folks — are certain that Trump cannot win – maybe even more certain than they were in 2016.  Democrats appear to be consuming the anti-Trump reporting in the anti-Trump press as gospel.  While they no longer use the claim that Trump has “no path” to re-election, they do discount his chances.  Many report that Trump is facing certain defeat – and the Never Trumpers are believing it.

A second factor that makes 2020 look like 2016 is that the Democrats are making themselves rather unpopular with the voting public.  While Trump has a low favorables, none of the Democrat contenders are exactly soaring in the popularity polls.  In fact, some rank lower than Trump – a fact the media does not like to report

To make matters worse, the leading Democrat candidates are the product of the leftward drift of the Democratic Party – creating a politically toxic combination of unpopular personalities with unpopular platforms.

We also need to keep in mind that all this impeachment hubbub will be old news next summer.  Trump will be impeached and the case will be tossed out by the Senate after a forceful defense – which has not been heard yet.

While national polls show Democrat candidates besting Trump in theoretical head-to-head contests, that is not the case in many of the battleground states.  The national polls reflect disproportionate votes from California and New York, where Trump and Republicans are very unpopular – as he was in 2016.

It is very possible that Trump could again lose the popular vote and still win the presidency in the Electoral College.  You see this dynamic in the fact that while a slim majority of the nation favor impeachment, majorities in the key battleground states tend to oppose it.

Trump also has a year to put a few significant wins on the board.  It seems likely that the economy will continue to stay strong – despite the Democrats’ prayers for a recession.  It is also likely that there will be a trade agreement between the United States and China.  Trump’s policies have already reduced the number of illegal border crossings.  His wall is being built and Mexico has agreed to hold back the caravans. Migrants now have to seek asylum in the first nation they enter.  There could be some progress toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Going into the 2020 election, Trump may not be the most loved President in American history, but he and his policies may be more appreciated than what the Democrats offer – no matter who the candidate may be.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Jack Epstein

    Insightful commentary. Let us pray..
    Whatever Trump’s flaws, he is vastly superior to any Dem for this great country and deserves to WIN.

  2. Carl West

    If Trump doesn’t win God help us. It seems the Democrats are only interested in taking away our rights. They have immoral policies of murdering babies. They want to take away our constitutional right to bear arms and to defend our families. There are so many socialist countries in the world. Why would anyone want to change the one free country in the world. If they want socialism all they have to do is pick a country and move there. This country would be much better off without them. The democrats don’t want to win the presidency they want to become the dictator and take away all our rights. Every democratic policy has some sort of evil intention. The democrats have lost their mind and are completely insane. I’ve never heard in my entire life such craziness that is spewing from the mouths of these complete idiots. If the democrats win China and Russia might become better places to live than the United States of America. If they take away all our rights then what would be the difference. President Trump is actually running the country the way a president is supposed to run the country. He’s not a career politician hoping to become rich from special interest groups. These billionaire special interest groups have been running this country into the ground for years. Because when special interest runs the country they are going to run it in such a way which makes them richer and richer. Not caring about the American people at all. Only caring about padding their pockets with more money. President Trump has surpassed every other modern day president. The Democrats could learn a lot from President Trump on how the country should be ran if they were paying attention. If they would pick up on president Trumps policies they might regain their sanity and they might become popular and be someone the American people would want to elect. The democrats need to give up their evil agenda and their delusions of grandeur and just focus on being a good president. That’s all America needs. Just run the country in the best way possible don’t try to turn it upside down and change it completely. That will just create more problems and we have plenty of problems already.

    • Randy

      The democrat party/socalists think that when all ther other peopple people tried socialism, they did it wron. The democrats think that tonly they have special infomation and power to do socialism right. But every time socialsism has been tried, it leaves the peoplele improvished and the country in shambles.

      Thethe socialist democtra are a special kind of stupid.

      For some reason the print isn’t showing hp, so I can’t see my comments and spelling.

  3. Randy

    If you don’t fight back when attacked, either physically or verbally, you are considered a weakling. I like having a president who fights back when attacked, it shows that he isn’t a weakling. At this point in America’s history, only a strong president can do what he’s doing to get us back on track. You know being offended because he fights back, speaks volumes about you. I was offended when every republican president since 1950 refused to fight back and defend his integrity, honor and agenda. Bush 1 and 2 were weanies, by allowing the democrats to run rings around them, block their agenda in every way and attack their character. Maybe it was because they didn’t have any character, which I think is probably correct.

    I voted for a fighter and a strong leader and I will do so again. And there are millions like me out there across America. If Trump wasn’t the president, do you think that we would have found out about all the corruption and criminality in the democrat party? I think not.

    It doesn’t matter if you like him or not, what he’s doing is best for America. If you don’t defend him, its your choice, however that puts you into the democrat camp.

  4. Jeanette Kelley

    We can thank the “Propaganda, Liberal, Democrat Main
    Stream News Media” for any of our Wonderful President’s
    negative so called “Poll Numbers” & Unpopular ratings
    among half of the Brain Dead Americans that believe this
    Crap. God gave us all a Brain, and only half of this country
    cares to use it, to seek out the Truth.

    Remember the Polls were are WRONG in 2016, when you
    Look at President Trump’s Rally’s, I don’t see any Democrat
    running that has that kind of response!

    I agree with Randy’s quote:

    “I voted for a fighter and a strong leader and I will do so again. And there are millions like me out there across America. If Trump wasn’t the president, do you think that we would have found out about all the corruption and criminality in the democrat party? I think not.”

    God Put President Trump in Office for a reason, I just can’t
    believe he will let him fail. We all have to have “Faith, Pray
    for our Great President” and VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!

  5. Richard Hennessy

    If President Trump’s approval rating is in the upper 40s, he will win. The overwhelming negative ratings from the cesspool big cities won’t sufficiently help his opponent because voting is by state, not by how overwhelmingly a nominee wins in the big cities. Much thanks is due to the wisdom of the writers of our Constitution that gives flyover country a voice. The overwhelming geographic area of the Country has a chance to elect our President.