40 years ago, in the 1980 presidential election, incumbent President Jimmy Carter (D) lost to the Republican challenger, Ronald Reagan, by one of the largest margins in U.S. history. Carter lost by over 8 million popular votes and in the Electoral College by a margin of 489 to 49, carrying only seven states and the District of Columbia.
And now, four decades later, we could be on the verge of seeing Donald Trump lose by a similar margin, according to polling analyst Kyle Kondik of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, who notes that just as the weak economy destroyed Carter’s chances of a second term, the coronavius pandemic — which has also sunk the U.S. economy — could doom Trump, too:
“Trump, like Carter, is facing a crisis, this time in the form of the coronavirus, and the restrictions governments across the country and across the world have put into place to combat it are going to have significant negative effects on the economy, at least in the short term. It seems quite possible that second-quarter GDP growth this year will set a record for the worst quarter in the post-World War II era. The postwar low was roughly -10% in the first quarter of 1958; some projections suggest GDP could contract by two or three times that historic low in the second quarter of this year (the second quarter just started yesterday and runs through the end of June).”
Earlier today, we learned that 10 million Americans have filed first-time claims for unemployment over the past two weeks, and that alone suggests that Trump won’t be able to run on a strong economy, the lone bright spot he had before the COVID-19 virus arrived in the U.S.
Once again, as Kondik notes
“Given that the strength of the economy was one of the president’s top reelection selling points, a massive contraction in the economy naturally weakens that argument, even given the circumstances.”
And, just like Carter was weakened by the Iran hostage crisis, Trump is also facing a test of leadership which he seems to be failing. That doesn’t help his chances of reelection in the least:
“We just don’t know how Americans ultimately will react to the federal government’s response to the coronavirus; a lot of this of course depends on how bad the situation becomes and how quickly it is resolved. There also remains the scary possibility that COVID-19 will appear conquered in the summer only to reemerge in the fall.”
Where does that leave Trump? Based on what we’ve seen from this administration so far, Kondik concludes:
“2020 has been a year of “bleak tidings” for the United States, at least so far. This parallel to 1980 poses a real challenge to an incumbent president whose reelection chances were very much in question even during sunnier times.”
The future does not look good for Donald Trump. And that alone is reason to have hope for the nation’s future after he’s gone.