More than two dozen Democrats reportedly are eyeing the possibility of challenging President Donald Trump in 2020.
Media darling Beto O’Rourke has met with former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama Chelsea Manning tests positive for COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Tight security for Capitol rally; Biden agenda slows Obama backs Trudeau in Canadian election MORE.
Former Vice President Joe Biden claims that he is “the most qualified person in the country to be president.”
Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisStefanik in ad says Democrats want 'permanent election insurrection' Live coverage: California voters to decide Newsom's fate Florida woman faces five years in prison for threatening to kill Harris MORE says she will make her presidential decision “over the holiday.”
The Boston Globe editorial board praised former Massachusetts Democratic governor Deval Patrick for calling it quits on 2020, and suggested that the Bay State’s senior Senator Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenFederal Reserve officials' stock trading sparks ethics review Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE would be wise to heed his example.
Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAttorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports MORE would like to run for a third time, but slumping ticket prices on her current speaking tour are an ominous sign.
And then there is Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats urge Biden to commute sentences of 4K people on home confinement Briahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Sanders 'disappointed' in House panel's vote on drug prices MORE, who lost the Democratic nomination to Clinton in 2016 but who is nevertheless mulling a bid as well.
Simply put, 2020 is about to get pretty wild on the Democrats’ side of the ledger, and no one should be shocked if it descends into a no-holds-barred mosh pit of progressive egos slamming each other and Trump at every turn.
Let us also not forget about the mainstream media who will be salivating and panting for the next year and half over who will represent their beloved blue team in the big head-to-head contest.
Still, it is important to keep a few things in mind.
The reason is simple: incumbency has its privileges. Since 1900, 20 presidents have run for reelection. The incumbents have won 15 times and lost five, if you include former President Gerald Ford who was never elected at the ballot box in the first place. If you remove Ford from the equation, the winning percentage among presidential incumbents would likely be good enough to capture baseball’s Cy Young award in recent years.
Further, despite the chirping of the pundits about what 2018 means for 2020, recent history has shown that there is in fact very little correlation between a president’s first midterm election and their reelection bid. Case-in-point, Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonBusiness coalition aims to provide jobs to Afghan refugees Biden nominates ex-State Department official as Export-Import Bank leader Obamas, Bushes and Clintons joining new effort to help Afghan refugees MORE’s party lost 52 House seats in 1994 and Barack Obama’s party lost 63 House seats in 2010, yet both men garnered more than 330 Electoral Votes in 1996 and 2012, respectively.
Add in the fact that the 2020 Electoral College playing field will likely be very similar to the 2016 edition (40 states are essentially already decided and 10 are up for grabs), and one starts to see why Trump has a very real chance of securing four more years in the White House. To prevail, the Democratic nominee would have to either sweep the Rust Belt (Pa., Wis., Mich., Minn.) or dislodge Florida or Arizona from Trump. Not an easy task.
As an incumbent, President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE’s biggest worry is not a particular candidate or ticket or even the Russia investigation at this stage, but whether the country endures an economic recession in 2020. So when Trump told the Fox Business Network’s Trish Regan in October that his biggest threat was the Federal Reserve, he was pretty close to the mark.
None of this is to suggest that Trump is a shoo-in for reelection or that he doesn’t have some glaring vulnerabilities. He certainly does as the Cook Report’s Charlie Cook recently outlined.
But if Trump can find a way to broaden his voter appeal, eat into the Democratic advantage on healthcare and shine a big spotlight on the Democratic Party’s cantankerous ways in Congress now that they have the House back, Trump will be a two term president.
NOTE: This post has been updated from the original to correct the spelling of Barack Obama's first name.
Ford O'Connell served as director of rural outreach for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign; he runs a political consulting business, is an adjunct professor at The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, and is a regular commentator on FOX Business. He has also appeared on CNN. Follow him on Twitter @FordOConnell.