A Clear Message to the Democrats Running for President

Don’t blow this.

It’s very obvious that Trump hasn’t gained support since he narrowly (less than a fraction of a percentage of the vote in three states separates him from a Hillary Clinton victory) eked out an electoral college win in 2016. In 2019, following major defeat in the mid-term elections, several polls, including Quinnipiac, Marist and a PBS poll, discovered that the percentage of voters declaring they would not vote for Trump in 2020 ranged between 57% and 59% while solid support for him, those who said they “definitely would” vote for him was around 35%. Those numbers have held up in more recent polling data except that the “definitely will vote Trump” percentage had fallen to a 30-32% range.

There’s a long list of real, electoral evidence to support polling data that shows Trump’s support has declined since his election and given the narrowness of his win and the fact that 54% of the electorate in 2016 cast a ballot for someone else, that the political climate he has created as set the Democratic nominee up for an almost certain win in 2020.

Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million votes in 2016, with just shy of 63 million votes, 46% of the total ballots cast. Clinton got just shy of 66 million, a little over 2% more of the total. It’s interesting to note that just two days before the election, those percentages were reflected in at least three polls, including Nate Silver’s 538, NBC-MSNBC News, and the Quinnipiac poll. What those polls couldn’t predict was the electoral vote outcome. But then, it wasn’t conceivable that a candidate who picked up three million more popular votes would lose the electoral vote, even as closely as Clinton did. Altogether, 54% of the electorate voted for someone other than Trump, a figure that has, expectedly, grown by anywhere from 3% to 5%, which is exactly what the current polling numbers reflect, prior to the Democrats actually nominating a candidate. Solid support from voters who say they “definitely will” vote for Trump has dropped to below 35%. Some polls have that figure as low as 30% to 32%.

Shortly after the 2016 election, Republicans found the going rather tough in special elections held to replace individuals who had resigned their legislative office to serve in the administration. Republicans in places where they should have won easily, like Kansas and Georgia, found that they had to raise money and actually get out and campaign to beat Democrats who essentially had no party money and were just names on the ballot. What started as “tough going” eventually turned into regular defeats as Democrats began to pile up a string of victories in special elections, mostly in “red” states where Republicans had been unopposed in many instances.

The biggest shocker of special elections came in Alabama, where Democrat Doug Jones defeated Trump-endorsed, MAGA hat wearing Roy Moore for Jeff Session’s old senate seat. Jones won by a series of circumstances that leveraged a larger turnout among traditionally Democratic constituencies than had more or less been suppressed in previous elections. It wasn’t so much about changing minds as it was about Jones getting his supporters to the ballot box. Following that, Democrat Connor Lamb secured a seat in the House of Representatives in a Pennsylvania district where a Republican had run unopposed in 2016, also by turnout.

The 2018 mid-terms were a referendum on Trump’s leadership. Well, for one thing, he claimed that they were, thinking that Republicans would win most of them before making that statement. He was right, the mid-terms were certainly a referendum on his leadership as 55% of the electorate voted Democrat in what was termed a “blue wave,” flipping more than 40 house seats, the governorships of seven states and the majority party in at least 8 state houses. Trump held rallies, endorsed and campaigned for at least 24 Republican candidates for office, 20 of whom were defeated in their election. The difference from 2016? Turnout. Constituencies that traditionally support Democratic candidates turned out, in many cases in record numbers during the mid-term and the exit polling data confirmed that anti-trump sentiment was high on the list of causes of the Republican defeat.

The win streak for Democrats continued unabated into 2019 with two big wins of governorships in red states being picked up by the Democrats along with completely shifting both houses of the Virginia legislature. A more obscure but also notable victory for the Democrats came in Mike Pence’s hometown of Columbus, Indiana where Democrats flipped the city hall, electing an all-Democrat council. In both Kentucky and Louisiana, where the Democrats won statewide gubernatorial victories, Trump had appeared at a rally on behalf of the Democratic candidates just prior to the election. In both cases, the Republicans lost. He also appeared at a rally in Mississippi where the Republican candidate, Tate Reeves, eked out a 5% victory though expected to win by at least 15%.

All of these electoral wins back up the polling data that is accumulating. And what do the polls show? They show that, head to head, the six leading Democrats running for President–Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg, Warren, Bloomberg and Klobuchar, all lead Trump in head to head polling matchups. (The Last Word, Monday, February 10) This is early, before the nomination, and yet, the polling data is unprecedented in showing that even lower level candidates of the opposition party have leads across the country over the incumbent.

In the three states that were “must haves” for Trump in 2016–Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan–the polling data shows a wide gap has developed between likely Democratic voters and support for Trump. A statewide poll done by several media outlets in Pennsylvania at the end of the House impeachment hearings showed 58% of likely voters say they “definitely will not” vote for Trump in November, while only 30% of the likely voters say they “definitely will” vote Trump. Only 2% of those remaining say they are “likely” Trump voters. The numbers are even worse in Michigan, where 61% say “definitely not” to a Trump vote and 31% are “definitely yes.” In Wisconsin, it’s 55% to 35%. In Iowa, where Democrats just spent a lot of time in small town cafes, convenience markets and town parks, and which Trump won by four percent in 2016, 58% of the voters now say they will support the Democratic party’s nominee.

There’s more good news from the impeachment. Under the leadership of House Speaker Pelosi, the Democrats impeachment strategy laid out everything corrupt and obstructive this President has done for all to see, and plenty of Americans did bother to look. Public support for impeachment moved from the low 40% range up to 55% during the week of the house hearings. By the time it went over to the senate, 70% of the voters wanted to see witnesses and documents and 55% of likely voters favored removal of the President from office for what he had done. The senate’s partisan conduct of the trial, especially refusing witnesses and documents, eroded support for Trump and especially for several Republican senators who may very well lose their jobs in November.

Trump’s reaction to Mitt Romney’ s historic decision to vote to remove the President and the vengeful acts he has engaged in since, along with his hate-filled rhetoric and foul language have fired up the resistance to his presidency. You can’t make this stuff up. This will be a turn-out election, since it is clear not many people are changing their mind regarding who they’ll vote for. Trump’s antics just motivate anti-trump voters to make sure they are in the voting booth on election day. It has also motivated the enemies he made politically to organize themselves for the purpose of defeating him. There are a lot of powerful people lined up against this President because he turned them into enemies and they are committed to his defeat in November. They are doing the Democrat’s campaigning for them.

Perhaps the biggest mistake Trump has made that will wind up deterring voters from supporting him was the vengeful firings he made following the end of the senate’s sham trial. The one that has drawn particular ire and negative attention was the dismissal and escorting from the White House of Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman. The polling data on that has the entire staff of the Democratic National Committee skipping down the halls and singing while they work.

What this all points to, my dear friends, is that beating Trump is a matter of motivating the Democratic base and disaffected independents, of whom there are many, to do a better job of turning out than they did in 2016. And they will, especially if you give them something that motivates their turnout. Getting in each other’s faces, raising your voices over the subtle nuances that define your health care reform plan separately from that of the other Democrats, debating different ways to avoid adding a trillion dollars in debt to the national total by giving tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent, turning your arguments against the latest frontrunner because you’re not it, are not the best pathway to the goal. You are being handed an opportunity to defeat a sitting president soundly, in a way that sends a message that course correction is needed to the whole Republican Party. It’s a turnout election, not an ideological one.

In 2016, 54% of the electorate cast a ballot for someone other than Trump. Your message should be “don’t stay home this time.” No one among the Democratic field has the kind of negative numbers Trump does. So don’t go there by going after each other.

The message all of you need to send is that regardless of who is nominated, you are on board, you will support, you will be engaged in ensuring that the resources to defeat Trump that are being offered from all kinds of different quarters, are pulled together and do the job they are intended to do, beat Donald Trump and the Republican party into a pulp in order to correct their philosophical drift away from Constitutionally-balanced government.

We are here right behind you.

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