It finally happened: a Democrat, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, officially announced a presidential run for the 2020 election.
Last week, news outlets reported that Hollywood icon Angelina Jolie may run for president in 2020. Or, as CNN put it, Jolie “won’t rule out” a presidential bid against Trump.
To her credit, Jolie possesses some political experience serving as a UN good will ambassador for nearly two decades. Surely not as much experience as Warren, but the same can’t be said for the handful of other celebrities who flirted with 2020 runs not one week after Trump’s victory in 2016.
The liberal media’s obsession over Trump’s replacement practically started the moment he won the presidency. Although the Democrats’ biggest names initially declined to confirm 2020 runs, that didn’t stop US News & World Report from listing “5 Democrats Who Could Take on Donald Trump in 2020.” By its own admission, Trump hadn’t even been sworn into office when this list was published.
Why the obsession? The press knows it can appeal to its audience’s anxieties by proposing fantasy-football-styled opponents week by week. Stressing over the government shutdown or a trade war with China? Find some solace thinking about Person A, B, or C replacing the current president. It’s the Great Orange Hype, and given that the last election broke records as the most-watched in US history—with 71 million viewers—it’s no wonder the media won’t let up on round two. (By comparison, the infamous OJ Simpson white Bronco chase snagged 90 million viewers in 1994, just to give you some idea on American proclivities and priorities.)
So, will it be Uncle Joe Biden, whose meme magic may prove more powerful than Trump’s? Or will it be Andrew Yang and his promise to pay every American $1,000 a month just for existing? Or will it be Elizabeth Warren, who recently cleared her “Pocahantas” moniker with a DNA test? (Or did she?)
Or could the 2020 contender possibly be someone no one is talking about right now, because it’s too fucking early to predict this kind of stuff?
The Message is the Medium
Last summer, CNN released its “Power Rankings,” a fun but baseless attempt at predicting the winner of the 2020 Democratic primaries. For those keeping track at home, the primaries haven’t started, much less narrowed down candidates.
In case you’re wondering, Sen. Kamala Harris won the last CNN Power Ranking. In October, Sen. Elizabeth Warren won. In August, it was former VP Joe Biden. Apparently, Democrats are a finicky bunch. (According to CNN, that is.)
These guessing games are everywhere. In May 2017, The Hill listed “43 people who might run against Trump in 2020.” Less than a year later, The Hill followed up with another hit piece, “36 people who could challenge Trump in 2020.” The list didn’t change much between 2017 and 2018, except for the most recent listing seven fewer people.
In December 2017, the Washington Post compiled “The top 15 Democratic presidential candidates for 2020.” At the bottom of list sat Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, one of the previously mentioned celebrities lacking political experience. At the top of the list? Bernie Sanders.
Funny, considering Bernie isn’t a Democrat. He’s an independent who switched to the Democratic Party in 2015. After losing the 2016 election, he left the Democratic Party and resumed his hip indy status.
Last month, Bernie won a straw poll as the progressives’ favorite at 36 percent. Biden came in second, at a modest 15 percent. The poll doesn’t bode so well for the Democrats, either. Last July, the Democratic National Convention—the corporation that picks the Democratic presidential candidate—introduced a new rule seemingly designed to keep flip-floppers like Bernie off their platform.
Will Bernie be able to generate the same momentum he did in 2016 without the Democrats’ help? We’ll see.
What’s the point of drumming up contenders this early unless people think Trump already lost 2020? Polls abound subtly prophesizing Trump’s loss next year. An Axios poll claims Trump would lose against every leading Democratic hopeful who is a woman, including former First Lady Michelle Obama.
A Monmouth University poll conducted just after the November midterms clocked only 37 percent backing Trump’s re-election. That same poll found 16 percent of Republicans wanted Trump to step down in 2020, to give a different Republican a chance at ruining the country. This sentiment led to Newsweek listing four potential Republican challengers to Trump.
To be fair, Trump’s approval ratings have slumped in the key swing states that won him the 2016 election. When he hit a 36 percent national approval rating last September, the Washington Post suggested it marked the beginning of the end for The Donald.
However, at the time of this writing, Trump’s approval rating jumped to 42 percent – which is pretty dismal for a college exam but fairly decent for a president everyone supposedly hates. Both Presidents Obama and Clinton had similar approval ratings (at 44 and 45 percent, respectively) around the starts of their third years.
Also, Obama and Clinton were reelected to second terms, so I wouldn’t write off The Donald just yet. Besides, just ask Hillary how well the polls turned out for her.