It’s been a bad week for Democrats. Afrozen tick’s width from being horrible. The Iowa caucus was an unmitigated disaster, giving us an eternity’s worth of fresh Hillary Clinton based conspiracies. They failed in their impeachment proceedings. And the party’s leaders are staring down the barrel of a presidential primary process that has Vermont’s Bernie Sanders’ fingers on the trigger.
It’s a given things change and that November’s general election is — politically speaking — eons away. Anything can happen, because it has. But that’s small comfort in the moment. When President Trump was first elected, the only consolation was that it couldn’t happen twice and as his term progressed that faith was affirmed. The litany of his misdeeds ran down one arm and other to the other. It’s one of the reasons so many Democrats tossed their hats into the presidential ring. They all wanted, or want, to be the person to ride the anti-Trump horse into the White House. They wanted to be the person to take Trump down.
This was supposed to be easy, after all, we’ve never had a president with approval ratings as low as this president. We’ve never had a president who engendered this much antipathy. No one likes this narcissist, right?
Except this week his approval rating topped 49 percent, the highest of his presidency. At the same time Gallup and CBS came out with polls saying 75 percent of the economy is in good shape. That’s the highest number in two decades. Additionally, those three in four adults think their financial standing will be even better next year. Sixty percent of those polled say they are better off today than they were a year ago, which is the highest percentage since 1999.
Former President Harry Truman famously noted that the most sensitive nerve in the human body was the pocketbook nerve, meaning it’s every politician’s fondest hope to preside when times are good, and look to be better. Voters — who mark their ballots behind closed curtains — are loathe to change leadership when their pocketbooks are bulging. And, clearly, if 75 percent of those polled think they are doing better than ever, that’s far deeper than the one percent Mr. Sanders reviles.
Which brings up the question of turnout in the Iowa caucus. It was expected — on the verge of being promised — that the turnout in Monday’s caucus would be at record levels. Mr. Sanders was quoted as saying that Democrats win when the turnout is high, and lose when it’s not. Yet, the turnout was almost 30 percent less than predicted. That should shock Democrats. If Donald Trump cannot energize the Democrat’s base, who can? Is Bernie really generating the wave of new support he contends? Is the race to unseat Mr. Trump as easy as once thought and can it be done with Mr. Sanders who makes Mr. Trump look like a fiscal moderate?
President Trump’s State of the Union speech makes the case even more trenchant for Democrats. It was one of, if not the most political, most partisan State of the Union speech a president has ever delivered. It was a despot’s sneer.
It was also effective and a clear delineation of the president’s 2020 presidential campaign. Think the president isn’t going after the African American vote? Think again. Think he’s not going to be twisting the facts to his advantage? Think again. Think he’s not going to be as vicious as he needs to be to win? Think again. And there will not be a murmur of dissent from within his party, despite the sophistry. Look at the impeachment votes in both the House and Senate.
The presidential primary process has just begun, but with history as a guide it’s typically the first three or four primaries that separate the leaders from the also-rans. If Joe Biden suffers the same fate in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina that he suffered in Iowa, the odds shift dramatically in favor of Mr. Sanders, the candidate who has pitched his political tent as far to the left as the stakes will allow.
Little wonder the party’s leaders need knock out drops to go to sleep these nights.
by Emerson Lynn