The Briefing, Vol. VII, Issue 48

This week: 

  • As goes Labour, so go Democrats?
  • Trump’s strength surprisingly  growing amidst impeachment
  • In key states, Democratic candidates even less popular than Trump

Jeremy Corbyn’s stunning landslide defeat in the U.K. election last week presents one ominous potential future for America’s Democrats — a possibility they would to well to take seriously. 

Labour’s big loss came as older workers and pensioners in less fashionable parts of England abandoned their longstanding affiliation with Labour. Citing Corbyn’s near-communist ideology, his ambivalence on Brexit, and his unwillingness to do anything about Labour anti-Semitism, these natural Labour voters either bolted for Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party or else voted for the Brexit Party or another minor party out of disgust. 

Does any of this sound familiar? A similar dynamic put Trump in the White House three years ago, as one- and two-time Obama voters in key states put him over the top. And just as Trump’s unexpected election provided an echo of the Brexit referendum, so are conditions emerging for the 2020 election in the U.S. to go surprisingly well for the GOP, all things considered.

Trump’s growing strength: No doubt, this is an odd and counterintuitive idea to bring out in the very week when Democrats formally sent articles of impeachment to the House floor. But the ongoing partisan impeachment process only betrays the Democrats’ impotence. 

Indeed, Trump has scored a coup by getting anti-impeachment Rep. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J., to switch to the Republican Party at just this moment. The party-switch adds to the perception already evident in the confusing impeachment charges. Democrats have bitten off a lot more than they can chew here. Republicans — including Will Hurd and others not known for being big fans of Trump — are just going to shrug off the impeachment as a meritless political exercise. 

Meanwhile, Democratic candidates continue to flounder in polls of key states, despite President Trump’s continued relative unpopularity. We have already remarked on the state-by-state polling showing President Trump winning — in some cases by stunning margins — in swing states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Could this by Reagan’s 1984 all over again? Don’t laugh — it’s far-fetched, but not maybe not not impossible. 

Democrats’ greatest fears: A combination of factors could be setting the Democrats on a path toward doom. Their extremist leftward lurch has put most of their viable primary candidates into a far-left category that will not fly with the older working-class voter they need to win back. Impeachment is arguably raising doubts about Democrats’ seriousness. They have been trying to impeach since November 2016, before Trump was even in office. They haven’t found a reason so much as an excuse to pull the trigger and do it.

And then finally, and perhaps most importantly, there’s the continued strength of the U.S. economy. Despite a moment in late summer when the fear of recession came to the forefront, it now appears that there is no slowdown on the horizon. There simply isn’t anything to complain about when it comes to employment (sorry, Andrew Yang, it just isn’t so), equities markets, the housing market, etc. Yes, a slowdown and even a recession is inevitable at some point, but there’s no reason it has to come before next November. If it doesn’t, then what case will Democrats make against the guy who beat their attempted impeachment?

At a moment when the U.S. economy is already strong, Trump is right on the verge of getting his trade deal with Mexico and Canada, thanks to a deal with the very Democrats who are impeaching him. He may then possibly ink a new deal with China — a major accomplishment if he can pull it off — and then with a very willing post-Brexit Britain led by Johnson and his giant new majority. 

Any and all such trade deals will help the U.S. economy, reducing uncertainty and eliminating the very few sources of economic fear that continue to plague some industries in the U.S. 

The economic situation: What does this mean for 2020? It is horrendous, hideous news for Democrats. Again, despite Trump’s consistent failure to attain majority approval ratings, it is very, very difficult to defeat a president amidst the boom that seems likely to be underway next year. In fact, just imagine this: In addition to everything else, the Census will be hiring. Will there be anyone left without a job to do the count? It is in this context that recession fears have fallen from 38% to 25%, according to the Federal Reserve model cited by the Washington Post. 

These factors — the Democrats’ leftward lurch, the economy’s evident strength, the backfiring impeachment process — threaten to create a clear path for Trump to a surprisingly comfortable re-election. 

There are also a few other wildcards outstanding. For example, will the black vote stay uniformly Democratic amidst record-low black unemployment? Will Americans, largely satisfied with their health insurance, embrace candidates who want to make private health insurance illegal? There are many reasons to believe they would not — and that the people least likely to do so are critical suburban voters without whom Democrats cannot win.

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