What Happens When Trump Stops Believing He Can Win Reelection?

The next five months will only be filled with more chaos and malevolence.

If President Trump seems resigned to losing November’s election, he has good reason. The strategy he is pursuing—and it’s generous to call it a strategy—is premised on the idea that he is going to lose. His own advisers acknowledge that there are very few people who can be persuaded to vote for him, and his aim therefore is to do whatever he can to hold his strong supporters while reducing the overall level of turnout.

Trump’s team feels confident that approximately 40% of the electorate supports him and notes his approval rating has remained unusually stable during his term. The president’s campaign advisers believe it comes down to getting a bigger proportion of the smaller group of people who love Trump to turn out than the larger group of voters who express tepid support for Biden.

Some people realize this is not going to work, but when they offer alternative strategies they just sound like morons:

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress, said Trump can win with “a little more message discipline” and a focus on policies that separate him and Biden.

“Just make it more about policy and less about your personality,” Graham told reporters.

Asking Trump to stop being a narcissist is some kind of psychiatric malpractice, since a narcissist isn’t free to think about other people. Asking him to talk policy is laughable. And to ask him to debate policy with a man who has spent a lifetime in the Senate and White House is a suicide mission. Lindsey Graham might as well advise Trump to levitate while farting firecrackers.

His advisers are too optimistic in any case, since Trump has fallen below 40 percent in several recent national surveys, and in many new battleground state pollsFox News now has him down by a point in Texas. If you’re being honest, there’s no reason to see the present as some nadir or low-water mark for Trump. There’s virtually no reason to think he’ll suddenly become a more effective crisis manager or that the current crises are about to lessen in their severity. If he’s down in Texas today, he’s likely to lose there. Hoping for some miracle on COVID-19 is not a medical or a political strategy, and it’s clear that the outbreak is as bad today as it has been at any point so far. This is going to prolong and deepen the economic damage.

Trump seems to have realized this, which is why he said on Wednesday that Biden “is going to be president because some people don’t love me.” For once, he’s probably right.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com