Trump’s reelection was never a sure thing, even before the CCP virus ruined 2020
In the aftermath of last month’s election, many a commentator at both ends of the partisan spectrum has said or written that President Donald Trump was defeated in his reelection bid due to the onset of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP, or Wuhan, if you prefer) virus and the ensuing global pandemic and its disastrous effect on the world economy.
For sure, the virus is the proverbial “shiny object” that gets people’s attention. It’s hard not to notice, after all, since so much of our lives has been altered -- or flat out ruined -- by the state and local governments’ reaction to the pandemic. Whereas most political issues only tangentially brush our everyday lives, the CCP virus not only touched them, it strangled a lot of them. Drive down the street and notice every restaurant or business trying to attract customers with promises of “social distance” and “safety measures” and you’ll understand.
But did the virus alone cause Trump’s defeat (again, assuming the courts and state legislatures won’t be in any better mood to hear his legitimate complaints in the coming days as they have been the past eight weeks)? Was the cakewalk that was supposed to be Trump’s 2020 reelection effort really that set in stone?
I don’t recall a host of observers suggesting Trump would win easily this year, even without the unknown plague. In a piece titled, “Are Democrats in Trouble in 2022?”, Powerline’s John Hinderaker concluded, “[I]t is highly probable that by 2022, a great many voters will be disillusioned with the rapidly-failing Joe Biden, assuming that he is still president in two years. There is usually an element of buyer’s remorse in a president’s first midterm election, and by 2022 the remorse could be profound.
“So on paper, 2022 shapes up as an excellent year for the GOP. Of course, the reality is that we have little idea what the landscape will look like in two years. No one could have predicted in 2018 the events, foremost among them the much-hyped Wuhan flu, that reversed what looked like an easy re-election for President Trump. Nevertheless, at this stage there is every reason for Republicans to look to the future with confidence, and for Democrats like [the New York Times’] Adam Nagourney to fret.”
Hinderaker argues that most factors point to a sizable Republican surge in 2022. He wasn’t solely suggesting that Trump’s reelection road this year was paved with rose petals prior to the end of January, when news services started covering a mysterious virus that emerged in a city called Wuhan in China. It’s safe to say the vast majority of Americans had never heard of Wuhan prior to 2020, but the Chinese metropolis now is forever etched in our consciousness.
As a mental exercise, what do you think of when you hear the word “Wuhan”? Bats (the kind that are blind, furry, live in caves and attics, hideously ugly and fly in every which direction)? A highly secretive bioweapons lab where the Communists manufacture microscopic warheads that slowly kill millions while simultaneously sending the globe into a panic? Or how about TV images of Communist Party officials smiling and acting unconcerned about anything? Maybe the end of the world as we know it? All of those things?
It’s almost impossible to measure how much damage the virus did to Trump’s prospects. Democrats and their goosestepping establishment media allies grabbed ahold of the health scare and held on like a 1980s child clutching a cabbage patch doll. “Never let a good crisis go to waste” is every liberal’s mantra, knowing full well there will be an identifiable portion of the electorate that mindlessly accepts anything the “scientists” and “experts” say about anything.
The virus just happened to appear at a time when Democrats were desperate to find another “failure” to stick to Trump. Their impeachment effort flamed out for everyone to see. The lead-up to the senate trial stole all the drama. When the arguments actually started, no one watched the proceedings. It was boring. And technical. And, for lack of a better word, stupid. Adam Schiff’s and Jerrold Nadler’s theatrics and histrionics couldn’t make their absurd claims any more credible. The most interesting part of the whole thing was watching senators try to stay awake.
At the same time, the race for the Democrat presidential nomination was reaching its peak, with longtime frontrunner Joe Biden seemingly losing momentum as the days ticked on and the Iowa caucuses drew closer. The field’s senators were stuck in Washington sitting in judgment of President Trump while a thirty-something gay mayor of a medium-sized midwestern city was making a move -- on the party voters -- and it became increasingly evident that there wasn’t a strong candidate to challenge the incumbent.
Yes, it was bleak for liberals. But the Democrats’ ceaseless drumbeat of Trump Derangement Syndrome had succeeded on one front -- Trump’s approval ratings were still mired in the same doldrums they’d been stuck in since he recited the oath of office. On February first of this year, 44.4 percent of voters approved of his job performance, with 51.8 percent disapproving. The economy was roaring along with record low unemployment levels for practically every demographic and racial category, yet it wasn’t paying off in popularity.
The CHQ headlines for Monday, February 3rd were: Democratic Elites Take On Bernie At Their Own Peril (Patrick J. Buchanan), The News They Won’t Report (Robert Stacy McCain, about the size and enthusiasm of Trump's rally crowds), Misuse of Whistleblower Law Created Impeachment Farce (Roger L. Simon), In Iowa, Trump dwarfs Democratic competition (Byron York), The Equal Rights Un-Amendment (Editors, National Review) and, Parties must move on from Trump impeachment — or end in mutual destruction (Michael Goodwin).
In essence, the news focus reflected the same battles Trump had fought since he entered the political arena. Both McCain’s and York’s pieces stressed Trump’s strength hadn’t been receiving its proper deference from the media, and much of the talkers’ concentration was on impeachment and the Democrat primary race. Bernie Sanders appeared poised for a major takeover of the party and lots of folks speculated that he might present a formidable opponent for Trump.
Impeachment wasn’t designed to succeed, just to further weaken Trump’s standing
Let’s not forget, Democrats didn’t dream up the impeachment nonsense with the serious intention of removing Trump from office on strict (or almost straight) party lines. They hoped to plant the seed and cultivate the negative impression among voters that Trump was a dirty dealer who was only in it for himself, regularly ignored ethics laws to use the presidency to advance his personal fame and fortune and couldn’t be trusted to conduct foreign policy without bowing to the Russians.
The people who never liked Trump weren’t lining up to support him then. The media did everything within its power to make the president look guilty -- of something. The #NeverTrump faction wasn’t seeing the impeachment farce for what it was and abandoning their opposition to Trump. They applauded the spineless political shill Mitt Romney for his “courage” in voting yes on one of the articles of impeachment.
Trump’s enemies and detractors eagerly anticipated that Democrats would improve on their 2018 performance (supposedly generated by opposition to Trump) and not only take the presidency, but also grab hold of the senate. All of the Democrat presidential candidates were either ahead of or competitive in head-to-head polling matchups with the Republican incumbent. Plus, the liberal party was finally free of the influence of the Clintons -- so Trump wouldn’t be able to run against and equally unpalatable opponent this time.
It's true, none of the Democrat candidates were wowing American voters, but former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was about to enter the spotlight and participate in party presidential debates after having skipped the first several contests -- a risky strategy for sure, but the guy had tens of billions to spend and pledged to allot whatever it took to win him a spot on the November ballot.
Understandably, no one was talking about a virus dominating the balance of the 2020 race, but Democrats lucked out when the pandemic focused the public’s attention on healthcare, an issue big government-loving liberals had demagogued to death for decades. Then the medical experts became front and center. Trump appointed Mike Pence to lead the administration’s efforts to respond to the virus, but the president didn’t yield the spotlight.
Trump must’ve figured he was displaying leadership at the same time New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was drawing praise for his coronavirus TV appearances. Joe Biden got pummeled in the first three voting states (Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada), but then the Democrat establishment (characterized by James Carville) panicked and placed the Delaware pol’s face as the figurehead of the anti-Bernie movement.
In other words, it’s a stretch to claim Trump’s reelection was a shoe-in at that point, or even before. A number of factors pointed towards his strong bid, but the Democrats were as determined to beat him as the president’s backers were to give him another four years. Conservatives hoped Trump’s positive attributes would be enough to convince the few “swing” voters that he deserved a second term, even if his personality quirks would never cease.
The political battle lines were drawn long ago, perhaps at the moment Trump rode down the Trump Tower escalator in June of 2015. The virus didn’t defeat him by itself. It’s a bit much to believe Trump would’ve won easily this year.
Yes, it does look like the GOP’s in good shape heading into 2022
Though I took issue with Hinderaker’s greater point that Trump’s reelection would have been “easy,” I agree with his analysis of the upcoming 2022 election. First-term presidents typically get bludgeoned in their initial off-year election, and the vote two years from now should be no different with Joe Biden in the White House.
The GOP appears to be in good shape to pick up five to six House seats in states whose district maps will be redrawn by friendly Republican legislators and governors (primarily Texas and Florida). Grampa Joe Biden will have a heck of a time getting any of his big ticket items passed through Congress, even if Democrats manage to pick up two seats in next week’s Georgia runoff election (odds are they won’t). Gridlock is about the best Biden can expect in not only his first hundred days, but the balance of his tenure in the White House.
The public’s mood has drastically switched with Trump’s successful campaign to discredit and defeat the Washington establishment. Trumpism looks to be here to stay. Patrick J. Buchanan wrote at Creators, “If the past is prologue, the Republican Party will make a major comeback in 2022.
“Consider. Two years after his smashing victory over Goldwater, LBJ and his party lost 47 House seats. Ronald Reagan, after his landslide in 1980, lost 26 House seats in 1982. After routing Bush I in 1992, Bill Clinton lost 54 House seats and the Senate. Two years after winning the presidency, Barack Obama lost both the House and Senate in 2014.
“Is it likely Joe Biden will be celebrating his 80th birthday after making history by leading his party to control of Congress in 2022? For Republicans, the nomination of 2024 is a prize to be sought. However, if one has spent the last four years trashing Trump, it may be as out of reach as it was for [Nelson Rockefeller].”
Buchanan was addressing the small gaggle of #NeverTrumpers who probably think we’ve seen the last of Trump and they’ll finally receive an opening to get back into power once January 20 rolls around and the current president moves to his next phase.
Not likely. As noted above, the GOP will probably make gains in Congress in two years and there certainly won’t be any hankering for the party to return to its former foreign military adventurism, big business-friendly mass amnesty leanings and a feckless adherence to the Democrats’ latest calls to stomp on the conservative social agenda. No, Trump showed Republicans that the conservative agenda can be defended and still remain popular.
Where does it leave the #NeverTrump crowd? In no man’s land, where they belong.
A lot of factors would indicate President Trump faced a tough reelection fight this year, and it’s far too simple to blame the CCP virus alone for his setback. Democrats worked for years to find the right magic trick to dent Trump’s electoral armor, and the negative forces converged last month to bring him down. Nevertheless, Trump will keep fighting. And so should we.
Democrat primary race