Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, opined yesterday during a HuffPost interview that he believes that President Donald Trump will win re-election this November. Romney’s averment comes after numerous national polls show Democrat Joe Biden with anywhere from a 10-13 point lead over the president.
It is important to note that Romney is no fan of the president; a frequent critic of Trump’s Twitter tantrums and policies, Romney was the sole Republican to vote to convict and remove the president from office this past winter. Romney’s opposition has made him a frequent target of Trump’s ire and led to his being called a “RINO”–a pejorative acronym that stands for “Republican in Name Only.”
Yet and still, according to Romney, the following factors are in the president’s favor come November:
*** “There are enormous advantages to being the incumbent, number one;”
***“Number two, I think [Trump] will tack more towards the middle in his communication than he has so far;”
*** “And number three, I think the voters that are most animated in opposition to the president tend not to come out to vote ― and that’s young people and the minorities. They’re active in polls, but not necessarily active at actually getting out to the polls.”
As to number one, while there is much truth to the potency of incumbency, sitting presidents are not infallible. In my own lifetime, I have witnessed Democratic President Jimmy Carter and Republican President George H.W. Bush fail to win re-election. In retrospect, both Carter and Bush the Elder lost in part due to economic uncertainty. In 1980, Carter’s perceived mishandling of the Iran hostage crisis polled second to the long memory that voters had of the energy crisis of the late 70s that had folks buying gas on “odd and even” tag days due to rationing. (Photos below)
In 1992, the economic recession and the patrician Bush’s being out of touch with struggling Americans (remember his inability to correctly state the costs of bread and milk) led to Bill Clinton’s victory. To that end, with Americans struggling economically due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, one that President Trump has diminished for months (until this week), the question that voters will answer this fall is whether they believe their economic doldrums to have been impacted by the president’s reticence to advocate for mandatory masks and social distancing until the health crisis abated?
As to Romney’s second point, President Trump has already begun to tack to the center in his “public speeches.” Emphasis here on “public” because there have been so many times during this administration that Trump will say one thing in a prepared speech, only to say the polar opposite late in the midnight hour via Twitter.
Of late, Trump has heralded the use of masks and the need for social distancing in public–but on Twitter, he continues to suggest that the crisis is a tool of his Democratic opponents and “likely to disappear” should he lose in November. Meaning, we will have to wait til November to see whether Independent voters believe Trump’s public stances, or believe his Tweets?
As to Romney’s third and final point, that angry young voters and minorities may not turn out this fall, I believe that such may be too pessimistic of an appraisal. I base my counter on the fact that Democratic turnout during the primary season was at record numbers in many states–even during the early days of the Coronavirus quarantines this past spring when voters were understandably nervous about standing in long lines.
What has titilated a number of younger potential voters, particularly younger white ones, has been the brutal death of George Floyd and the groundswell of peaceful protests (mixed with some rioting) ever since. Many of these young ones have expressed disappointment that the president has lumped the peaceful protesters into the same category as the small and assorted groups of anti-fascists (ANTIFA) to create a narrative among his base that they (meaning all) wish to foment anarchy and destroy America. Will the persistent passion that these young Americans have shown in marches and rallies morph into votes come November?
As for minority voters, and in my analysis I mean Black and Latino voters, I believe that Sen. Romney underestimates how motivated Democrats in these two groups are to make Donald Trump a one term president. While Trump has used his platforms to attack all of his opponents, many of his harshest attacks have been at the expense of Blacks and Latinos. Painting with a broad brush, the president has linked Latinos to crime (Mexican drug lords coming to kill and destroy), called Black NFL players who kneeled during the Star Spangled Banner “ungrateful sons of bitches,” called Haiti and sub-Saharan African nations “shit-hole countries,” begins and ends speeches and Tweets about how he has been the best president for “The Blacks” because of “criminal justice reform,” a notion that reinforces among his most ardent followers the false narrative that Blacks writ large are criminals, while staunchly defending the Confederate flag and Confederate generals.
While Trump has had success in one area, support for funding HBCUs, it is nearly impossible for most Black voters to push past the uglier aspects of his rhetoric about Black people and nations, his aforementioned love for the Confederacy that was founded in 1861 to keep Blacks enslaved–and for Confederate monuments, flags and Federal military bases named for Confederate generals during the Jim Crow era to defy Black civil rights. For those reasons, I disagree with Sen. Romney and contend that minority turnout will be very high despite the fact that some minority voters are not particularly enamored with Joe Biden. The question, again, is whether white Independent voters who may not like Trump’s brand of racist and/or racially insensitive rhetoric–but are not turned off by it–will tack right for Trump–or tack left for Biden?
We shall see in a few months…