America's lame-duck leader

America's lame-duck leader
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From the day Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE assumed office, pundits have been looking toward the 2020 presidential election.  Although a great deal of attention has focused on potential Democratic challengers, conversation has also centered on the possibility that Trump would not be at the top of the Republican ticket. Talk of impeachment, resignation, or his choosing to only serve one term has occurred throughout the president’s first months in office.  Such conjecture is atypical and Trump has proved to be an atypical president.

Trump’s historic disapproval ratings, the specter of the Russia investigation, and the Republicans’ failure to achieve any type of health care reform in spite of their controlling both the executive and legislative branches have led some to conclude that Trump is already a lame duck and fuel speculation that he will not finish his first term of office.  

Although seemingly far-fetched, PredictIt market shares indicating Trump would be president by the end of 2018, currently stand at $.72 (yes) to $.28 (no). The market is less bullish that he is president by the end of 2019 — $.60 (yes) to $.40 (no).  

Put another way, the PredictIt market suggests there is a 72 percent chance that he is the president by the end of 2018 and a 60 percent chance that he is the president by the end of 2019.  The suggestion that a president would not serve out a single term is pretty foreign.  In fact, no president has failed to serve out their first term of office, except for those who died in office.  

The president’s most recent target, Senator Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerFormer Dem Tenn. gov to launch Senate bid: report McConnell 'almost certain' GOP will pass tax reform Former New Mexico gov: Trump's foreign policy is getting 'criticized by everybody' MORE (R-Tenn.), has revealed just how fractious Trump is viewed within his own party.  Corker likened the president to being a child, tweeting that the White House is like a “day care center.”  Corker has further indicated that the president is chaotic, his actions could lead the country toward World War III, and that “anyone who cares about our nation” should be concerned with Trump.  Supporting Corker’s claim that nearly every Senate Republican shares his concerns, speaking Sunday,  Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Cybersecurity: Panel pushes agencies on dropping Kaspersky software | NC county won't pay ransom to hackers | Lawmakers sound alarm over ISIS 'cyber caliphate' GOP chairman warns of ISIS's ‘cyber caliphate’ Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him MORE (R-Wis.) echoed Corker’s sentiments contending that political, rather than military solutions were the primary means in dealing with North Korea.  

Trump’s legislative failures are heightened given his own party’s majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate.  Presidents historically have been most successful when their party holds control of the legislative branch.  In spite of his self-proclaimed deal making abilities, Trump has come up short within his own party and has actively alienated those within his party.  

Over the course of the past few months, fellow Republicans have increasingly become the targets of Trump’s ire. Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat Meghan McCain knocks Bannon: 'Who the hell are you' to criticize Romney? Dems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress MORE (R-Ariz.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat Sasse: RNC help for Roy Moore 'doesn't make any sense' Sasse calls RNC decision to resume support for Moore 'bad' and 'sad' MORE (R-Neb.), Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.), and Corker have all been on the end of barbed Trump tweets. Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat House passes concealed carry gun bill Rosenstein to testify before House Judiciary Committee next week MORE and, more recently, Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonOvernight Defense: Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital | Mattis, Tillerson reportedly opposed move | Pentagon admits 2,000 US troops are in Syria | Trump calls on Saudis to 'immediately' lift Yemen blockade Trump has yet to name ambassadors to key nations in Mideast Mattis, Tillerson warned Trump of security concerns in Israel embassy move MORE have also been undercut by the president.  While this may play well for some within his base, it has caused great concern for many Republicans.

Making matters worse for Trump is that a large number of prominent Republicans would prefer that some other Republican be at the top of their party’s ticket in 2020.  In my survey of the 2016 Electoral College for the second edition of my book, I found that just 54 percent of Republican electors indicated they wanted to see Trump head the ticket in 2020.  Thirty-eight percent indicated they wanted someone else and 8 percent did not answer the question.   

Recall that two Republican electors did not vote for Trump when the Electoral College met. Although Trump has not been a darling of the establishment, these responses were unexpected.  

Apart from Trump, Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence allies worried he'll be called to answer questions from Mueller: report Trump thought it was ‘low class’ for Pence to bring pets to VP residence: report Pence told RNC he could replace Trump on ticket after 'Access Hollywood' tape came out: report MORE was most often cited by Republican electors as their preferred choice in 2020.  Earlier this year, several news outlets reported that Pence was testing the waters by forming his own fundraising committee this Spring.  Not surprisingly, Pence denied these accusations and has indicated his support for Trump.  

Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio), Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees House Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACA Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids MORE (R-Wis.), Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRyan pledges 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Richard Gere welcomes lawmakers' words of support for Tibet Dem lawmaker gives McConnell's tax reform op-ed a failing grade MORE (R-Fl.), and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDebbie Wasserman Schultz marks 10 years as breast cancer survivor Foreign agent registration is no magical shield against Russian propaganda Let Trump be Trump and he'll sail through 2020 MORE (R-Texas) were also cited as preferred choices to run for president among Republican electors. Kasich, in particular, has continued to stay in the national spotlight as a vocal critic of Trump, fueling speculation that he may challenge him in 2020.  Interestingly, both former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had at least one elector who would like to see them run.  

Trump’s not being on the 2020 ticket would be historic and perhaps a dream scenario for many of his critics.  The fact that many of those entrusted to cast their electoral votes for Trump would prefer to see someone else at the top of their party’s ticket is telling.  That Trump has picked so many fights among fellow Republicans has probably further alienated many of the party faithful.  

Although an early exit for Trump is unlikely, if it were to happen, it probably would not be met with many tears among the party’s most devoted members.   

Robert Alexander is professor of Political Science at Ohio Northern University and author of “Presidential Electors and the Electoral College: An Examination of Lobbying, Wavering Electors, and Campaigns for Faithless Votes.”