America's lame-duck leader

America's lame-duck leader
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From the day Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand urges opposition to Kavanaugh: Fight for abortion rights 'is now or never' Trump claims tariffs on foreign nations will rescue US steel industry: report Bannon announces pro-Trump movie, operation team ahead of midterms: report 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.  

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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 CorkerGOP senator reviving effort to rein in Trump on tariffs Trump draws bipartisan fire over Brennan GOP leaders: No talk of inviting Russia delegation to Capitol 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 JohnsonTrump draws bipartisan fire over Brennan When it comes to drone tech, wildfire officials need the rights tools for the job GOP chairman readies Steele dossier subpoenas 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 McCainComey: Trump revoking Brennan's security clearance shows 'he will punish people who disagree with him' Businesses fear blowback from Russia sanctions bill GOP’s midterm strategy takes shape MORE (R-Ariz.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP Senate candidate truncates Trump tweet in campaign mailer GOP senator reviving effort to rein in Trump on tariffs Hatch 'not comfortable' with Trump calling Omarosa a 'dog' MORE (R-Neb.), Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP senator reviving effort to rein in Trump on tariffs The Hill's 12:30 Report GOP’s midterm strategy takes shape MORE (R-Ky.), and Corker have all been on the end of barbed Trump tweets. Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsBrennan fires back at Trump: 'I will not relent' NYT columnist: A tape of Trump saying N-word could make his supporters like him more GOP’s midterm strategy takes shape MORE and, more recently, Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonDems want GOP chairman to subpoena State Department over cyber docs Overnight Energy: Trump elephant trophy tweets blindsided staff | Execs of chemical plant that exploded during hurricane indicted | Interior to reverse pesticide ban at wildlife refuges Administration should use its leverage to get Egypt to improve its human rights record 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 PenceLewandowski says Bloomberg would be 'very competitive' against Trump in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report — GOP seeks to hold Trump’s gains in Midwest states Former Air Force secretary: Trump's proposed Space Force is a waste of resources 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 RyanTrump revokes Brennan's security clearance The Hill's 12:30 Report Poll: Republicans favor Scalise for Speaker; Dems favor Pelosi MORE (R-Wis.), Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio’s pro-family, conservative family leave policy promotes stability Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries Establishment-backed Vukmir wins Wisconsin GOP Senate primary MORE (R-Fl.), and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzElection Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' Former spokeswoman defends Trump calling Omarosa ‘dog’: He’s called men dogs Mellman: Two worlds — Online and off 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.”