Race to 2020

Buoyed by their his­toric midterm vic­tory and Trump’s trou­bles, Democrats are thirst­ing for a shot at the White House. Let the games be­gin

Newsweek International - - CONTENTS - ALEXAN­DRA HUTZLER @Al­ly­hut­zler

The Demo­cratic Front-run­ners— at Least for Now

Don­ald Trump’s un­likely as­cen­sion To the White House shat­tered the con­ven­tional be­lief in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics that not just any­one can be pres­i­dent—and it has made the chance to chal­lenge him in 2020 open to, well, any­one.

And so, even though there are nearly two years un­til the next pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, an im­mense field of prospec­tive can­di­dates is al­ready emerg­ing. They span decades in age and po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, mil­lions in net worth and across the lib­eral spec­trum. Sup­posed front-run­ners shift week by week, jump­ing from bil­lion­aire megadonor Michael Bloomberg to anti–wall Street so­cial­ist Bernie San­ders and even 46-year-old Texas Con­gress­man Beto O’rourke. But de­spite their dif­fer­ences, the dozens of Democrats pon­der­ing pres­i­den­tial runs are united in the be­lief that, after their party’s suc­cess in the midterms and Trump’s tu­mul­tuous ten­ure in of­fice, the White House will be painted blue in 2020.

Democrats recorded their best midterms show­ing since the 1974 elec­tion that fol­lowed Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon’s res­ig­na­tion amid the Water­gate scan­dal. The party eas­ily flipped con­trol of the House, pick­ing up 40 seats—in­clud­ing 17 districts where Trump de­feated Hil­lary Clin­ton in 2016. They also made sig­nif­i­cant gains in state leg­is­la­tures, where they could re­draw po­lit­i­cal bound­aries in the next round of re­dis­trict­ing and re­peal con­tro­ver­sial voter-iden­ti­fi­ca­tion laws, both mea­sures that would help them in up­com­ing na­tional elec­tions. All-star can­di­dates like O’rourke, Ge­or­gia’s Stacey Abrams and Florida’s An­drew Gil­lum, de­spite los­ing their races, be­came na­tional celebri­ties and proved that Demo­cratic en­gage­ment is alive and well in Repub­li­can strongholds. While they will have to work to dis­tin­guish them­selves from one an­other, all are cer­tain to cap­i­tal­ize

on the in­ten­si­fy­ing le­gal trou­bles plagu­ing Trump and his ad­min­is­tra­tion, which make him a more vul­ner­a­ble can­di­date than he was in 2016.

As Democrats pick up steam, Trump and his party seem to be fall­ing fur­ther be­hind. De­spite the pres­i­dent’s tire­less ef­forts to gal­va­nize his base (which in­cluded at­tend­ing 30 ral­lies in five weeks), his cam­paign prom­ises of bor­der se­cu­rity and tax cuts rang hol­low with many Repub­li­can vot­ers. Trump’s trou­bles only in­ten­si­fied after the midterms, as spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller closed in on for­mer mem­bers of his in­ner cir­cle. In an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the pres­i­dent’s for­mer per­sonal at­tor­ney Michael Cohen, pros­e­cu­tors in New York al­leged that then-can­di­date Trump di­rected a fed­eral crime by or­ches­trat­ing hush-money pay­ments Cohen ar­ranged for two women just prior to the 2016 elec­tion. Trump has given in­con­sis­tent ac­counts of his own in­volve­ment but now places all blame on Cohen.

As he gears up for 2020, Trump can, of course, turn to the more suc­cess­ful as­pects of his pres­i­dency, like record-low un­em­ploy­ment rates and re­shap­ing the courts with con­ser­va­tive judges. But if his­tory is any guide, he’ll go neg­a­tive, bigly.

The his­toric loss in the midterms of­fered at least crumbs of com­fort: The GOP gained two Se­nate seats, demon­strat­ing that ru­ral con­ser­va­tive sup­port is stronger than ever in the age of Trump. Still, even some Repub­li­can law­mak­ers are skep­ti­cal that it will be enough, and the pos­si­bil­ity that Trump will face a pri­mary chal­lenger for the GOP nom­i­na­tion is be­com­ing more prob­a­ble.

While none of the ma­jor play­ers have yet to for­mally de­clare their 2020 in­ten­tions, po­lit­i­cal in­sid­ers see these 10 Democrats as most likely to make a run for the pres­i­dency. Trump is al­ready boast­ing that he is ready to take on his chal­lenger, who­ever that may be. “No­body is go­ing to come close to beat­ing me,” he has in­sisted. We’ll soon find out.

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