America's lame-duck leader

America's lame-duck leader
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From the day Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP-Trump trade fight boils over with threat to cars Trump: Meetings on potential North Korea summit going 'very well' Freed American 'overwhelmed with gratitude' after being released from Venezuela 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 CorkerFreed American 'overwhelmed with gratitude' after being released from Venezuela Former US prisoner Josh Holt returns from Venezuela Hatch, Trump say American held in Venezuela returning to US 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 JohnsonGOP senators introduce Trump's plan to claw back billion in spending House GOP sets three FBI interviews in Clinton probe Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — House passes 'right to try' drug bill | Trump moves to restrict abortion referrals 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 McCainTo woo black voters in Georgia, Dems need to change their course of action Senate panel again looks to force Trump’s hand on cyber warfare strategy Senate panel advances 6B defense policy bill MORE (R-Ariz.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP senators introduce Trump's plan to claw back billion in spending Overnight Energy: Reporters barred from Day 2 of EPA summit | Dems blame Trump for gas price increases | Massachusetts to get new offshore wind farm Jeff Flake: Trump has 'debased' the presidency MORE (R-Neb.), Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell sees Ohio in play as confidence about midterms grows   Giuliani: White House wants briefing on classified meeting over Russia probe GOP senators introduce Trump's plan to claw back billion in spending MORE (R-Ky.), and Corker have all been on the end of barbed Trump tweets. Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsKamala Harris: Trump should send officials to testify on immigration policy separating migrant families Trump blames Democrats for separating migrant families at the border Dem lawmaker to Melania: Your husband separating immigrant children from their parents is not a 'Be Best' policy  MORE and, more recently, Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonGOP fundraiser claims foreign government helped hack his emails Five takeaways on the canceled Trump summit with Kim Dem lawmaker confronts Pompeo over spending cuts to diplomatic security 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 PenceIndiana middle school shooting survivors protest NRA China's fingerprints on summit's cancellation, so US must push back Trump must move beyond the art of the deal in North Korea talks 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 RyanRepublicans are strongly positioned to win Congress in November Don't let them fool you — Republicans love regulation, too Senate harassment bill runs into opposition from House MORE (R-Wis.), Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTrump appears to confirm deal on Chinese firm ZTE Hillicon Valley: Experts worry North Korea will retaliate with hacks over summit | FBI works to disrupt Russian botnet | Trump officials look to quell anger over ZTE | Obama makes case for tighter regs on tech Putting pressure on Trump, House passes bill barring government from doing business with ZTE MORE (R-Fl.), and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP senators introduce Trump's plan to claw back billion in spending Pro-Trump super PAC raises .5 million in 6 weeks Trump has exposed Democratic hypocrisy on prison reform 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.”