Given the current state of
the Democratic Party, the substantial possibility of their nominating a
"progressive" candidate and the historical odds favoring sitting
presidents running for reelection the greatest danger to a Trump 2020 run could
come from within the GOP.
commencement of the primary system in 1912, every time a sitting
president or vice-president has faced a realistic primary challenge they have
lost the subsequent presidential election or withdrew from running after facing
near certain defeat in the primaries.
Prior to that the only sitting
presidents not to be renominated at conventions were Franklin Pierce,
considered among the worst presidents, “the only time in U.S. history that an elected president who was
an active candidate for reelection was not nominated for a second term"
and the non-elected presidents Andrew Johnson and Chester A. Arthur.
This historical truth is exemplified by President Taft's disastrous reelection campaign when former
President Teddy Roosevelt bolted the party after failing to get the nomination
even though he won over 51% of the primary vote.
President Truman withdrew after losing the New Hampshire primary
to Estes Kefauver. President Lyndon Johnson dropped out of the
race after narrowly winning the New Hampshire primary. President Carter faced a massive
challenge from Senator Ted Kennedy which was not resolved until Kennedy's
begrudging endorsement of Carter at the convention "one of the
nastiest on record".
President Ford faced a similar challenge
from Governor Reagan which went down to the wire at the GOP convention. In 1992
President G.W. Bush's reelection bid (his 1988 primary run as VP for the presidential
nomination was never in doubt) had to fight off a serious challenge from
the right via Pat Buchanan "the fact that Buchanan received more
than two million votes nationwide, prognosticated disaster in the fall."
Sitting Vice-president Hubert Humphrey after the worst nominating convention in American history and a bruising
primary campaign (using "favorite
sons" as substitute for campaigning himself) went on to lose to Nixon in
1968. VP Al Gore who went on to lose the presidential race to G.W.Bush was
challenged for the Democratic presidential nomination by Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey who only lost the New Hampshire
primary by 3 points.
Former vice-president's had a mixed record with Walter Mondale winning the 1984 nomination after a primary
battle and losing the presidential election and Hubert Humphrey being defeated by George McGovern for the
At this point in President
Trump's administration there is not the slightest breath of speculation that he
might be challenged for the nomination in 2020, nor has any Republican of note
given any overt sign that he or she might do so.
such was the case during the first year of Jimmy Carter's presidency when the
breaking with tradition cardigan wearing president with the big toothy grin was
hugely popular. President G.W.H Bush seemed unbeatable after the Gulf War. Both
presidencies ended very badly.
Are there any straws in the wind which, even at this point, might lead to a
similar ending for President Trump? Yes there are.
at 'The Week' who, apart from considering himself 'smart" ("a lot of
smart people got Trump wrong") has been apocalyptic regarding
Trump ("poised to lose in biggest landslide in history") right
from the start, now sees the entire GOP breaking up;
the members of Trump's base do finally turn on him, where are they going to go?
Into the arms of pro-immigration Paul Ryan and whatever candidate the
still-reigning GOP establishment puts up in 2020? Or will they instead stew
through what remains of the Trump presidency (including the now
much-more-likely Trump impeachment) while they await a more competent and
ideologically coherent candidate to emerge from the fully energized Breitbart/Bannonite
wing of the party?
my bets on the latter. Which doesn't mean that such a hard-right nationalist
"workers party" candidate would automatically win the GOP nomination.
But it does mean that the 2020 primaries would be a contest over which faction
gets to call itself the Republican Party and which ends up forced into the
of course utter nonsense and is refuted by no less than the New York Times
which ruined an otherwise instructive
article by titling it "When Trump say jump his followers say
how high?" The gist of the academic study is that politics is now
completely tribal and policies do not count no matter the flip flops, all that matters is a person’s side "wins"
against the other party.
politics policies core beliefs and
flip flops do matter and have their breaking point as regards the internal
opposition and this is where an internal fissure could lead to a 2020
The outlines of such a fissure showed its first
sign in, of all places, Alabama where the extraordinary sight of the GOP’s sitting
president and past vice-presidential candidate will be canvassing for different
senatorial candidates in the same week.
Presidential nominee Sarah
Palin is heading down to Alabama to help boost former state Supreme Court
Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) in his primary against appointed Sen. Luther
Strange (R-AL), joining forces with a pro-Trump super-PAC to try to knock out
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) strongly preferred candidate.
Palin will join a bus tour run by Great America Alliance, a pro-Trump
group that recently added former White House staffer Andy Surabian, who has
close ties to recently ousted former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.
The planned rally will occur late next week, according to a strategist close to
And from President
Trump; “I will be in Huntsville, Alabama, on Saturday night to
support Luther Strange for Senate,” Trump tweeted. “‘Big Luther’ is a great guy
who gets things done!”
The mystery of
Trump supporting a McConnell choice is a spectacle of much fascination
whose machinations are too arcane to consider without minds being
boggled. "The Art Of The Machiavelli" might be a Trump book in progress.
With Palin the
certainty is core beliefs trump party and political appointment. Palin endorsed
Trump well before anyone else and it is likely her support prior to the Iowa
caucuses was instrumental in gaining Trump the credibility of a second place finish.
That she would campaign
against Trump’s chosen candidate simply reinforces to her followers that
principle counts above all else. Nobody else in the GOP could mount a primary
challenge without some degree of self-seeking being attached to such an effort
except “you don’t need a title to make a difference’ Palin.
That Bannon, who touted
Palin for president prior to the rise of Trump, is supporting her efforts in
Alabama gives financial and media substance, allied to Palin’s personal mass following,
to any future schism. So too is his attack on the same McConnell Trump is supporting "Bannon: Why Are McConnell And Ryan Letting Democrats Investigate Trump?"
If an internal
breaking point comes, perhaps on “The Wall” (Hannity; "The wall better be part of Trump's deal"
"Jenny Beth Martin, the co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, said activists were “very, very concerned" ) then President Trump, or perhaps
more accurately the Priebus/Christie team who advised on cabinet appointments,
may come to sorely regret not bringing Palin into the administration and not
keeping Bannon in it.
"Trump's Move to the Left Ensures a Primary Opponent"