I write this while visiting various parts of the USA. During the trip, I couldn’t resist baiting some of my friends by suggesting that Donald Trump could quite possibly win a second term. Most of them looked horrified at the very idea. But then the conversation started.
One friend tells me about a conversation with a wealthy business friend who was a Trump voter. When asked about what he thought of Trump, the friend gave a quick retort: “ I’m looking at the performance of my financial portfolio and I have nothing to complain about.”
He then tells me about Michigan – traditionally a trade union stronghold. The state where the unions told their members to vote for Clinton and were roundly ignored. The feeling in Michigan: “For decades we have been roundly screwed by the system. Jobs have gone and nobody seems able or willing to do anything about it. Nobody cares as long as they’re making money on Wall Street. If all that Trump achieves is to bring down the whole damned system, that’s fine by me.”
Two conversations that seem perfectly aligned. My friend’s comment: “What we have now clearly seen is that US business cares about nothing else except their quarterly earnings.”
Even the Jewish lobby, traditionally solidly Democrat, has started a gentle swing towards Trump. A president who positions himself as solidly pro-Israel after what many believe to have been an anti-Israel Obama Presidency. The numbers are small, but the financial campaign contributions are not.
Then followed a conversation about the electoral system. At the end of the day, the Electoral College system means that only a handful of swing states matter – those that in the UK we would call marginals. Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and, since Trump, maybe Michigan and Wisconsin. Maybe one or two others, sometimes. All the rest are solidly Red or solidly Blue. Every single citizen in California, New York and Massachusetts could vote for the next Democrat candidate and it would make absolutely no difference to the final outcome.
Nor is it clear that the Democrats can come up with a candidate and an electoral platform that would lead to a sea change in their support in the swing states. Or if they did, whether the Democrat establishment would tolerate such a candidate (remember Bernie Sanders?)
The exception may be Florida where it is demographic change with an increasing number of Puerto Rican immigrants (they are US citizens and get the vote on day one) that might risk shifting away from Trump.
The reality is that Trump could well win the next election if he is the Republican candidate. It’s no wonder that Democrats are running around like headless chickens trying to construct reasons for an impeachment.