Election 2020: One year out, predicting winners and losers

With Election Day 2020 exactly one year distant, the bases of both political parties are squarely in their corners and the rest of the nation — independents and swing voters — are left shaking their heads.

National polls this far out are unreliable. For now, Democratic candidates for president need to concentrate on local polling in primary states, while President Donald Trump must watch his approval, right track/wrong track feelings, and consumer confidence polling in battleground states as the most reliable early barometer of his standing.

Adding to the tumult of Election 2020 is the impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives — what that becomes, and how it affects Democrats, Republicans and, most importantly, the president.

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In forecasting the possible outcome of Election 2020, one key consideration in many minds is congressional retirements. To date, 17 Republican House members and four Republican senators have announced they are retiring; just five House Democrats and one Senate Democrat have said they will retire.

In a Congress of 535 members, however, it is not out of the ordinary to have turnover — and, in my opinion, too much prognosticating weight is given to retirements. After all, elected service in America should be an opportunity, not a career. All 435 members of the House are up for reelection in 2020, along with 35 U.S. senators.

The current state of the House is 233 Democrats, 197 Republicans, one independent and four vacancies; Democrats hold a 37-seat House majority. The likelihood, as things stand today, of Democrats retaining their majority in 2020 is a safe bet. The odds are with them.

In the Senate, Republicans control 53 of the 100 seats; Democrats hold 47 seats, and two are held by independents, giving Republicans a six-seat majority. It is more likely that in a bad year for Republicans — meaning the loss of the White House — that Democrats would flip four GOP seats to take back the Senate. And, in 2020, Republicans will hold 23 of the 35 Senate seats up for election, which gives Democrats twice the number of chances to flip seats. Senate Republicans will need the political coattails of the president to stay in the majority. Thus, the Senate races in battleground states are the contests to watch in early polling that will give some good signals of what to expect a year from now.

Overall, Republicans are more united as a party but face uncertainty and unease with the looming impeachment in the House. Democrats are in disarray because of an identity crisis of who and what they are as a party; many Democrats running for president have embraced a “Democratic socialist” agenda that quite possibly could turn into a Democrat/socialist candidate for president and party platform.

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Add to this the fact that Democrats may have bitten off more than they can chew with impeachment. Should Democrats not impeach and just censure the president, they know President TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Judd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem MORE will take a victory lap just as the 2020 campaign heats up. On the other hand, should the House impeach and the Senate not remove the president, that too could help Donald Trump, as he might be viewed by many voters as the victim of a political witch-hunt. The chances of the Senate removing the president, based on the evidence as it exists today, are slim and none. Thus, Democrats have more to lose from this folly.

Some Democrats in particular should be careful what they wish for. If the House were to impeach the president by the end of the year and the Senate were to take up a trial in the early part of 2020, then the Democratic senators running for their party’s presidential nomination — Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Trump DACA fight hits Supreme Court Democrats on edge as Iowa points to chaotic race MORE (D-Mass.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Democrats on edge as Iowa points to chaotic race Democrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal MORE (I-Vt.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Democrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal Women who inspired 'Hidden Figures' film will be honored with congressional gold medals MORE (D-Calif.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharDemocrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal Republicans, Democrats brace for first public testimony in impeachment inquiry Klobuchar: A woman with Buttigieg's experience would not be on presidential debate stage MORE (D-Minn.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg looks to upend Democratic race Poll: Biden support hits record low of 26 percent The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump demands Bidens testify MORE (D-N.J.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows by six members MORE (D-Colo.) — must sit in judgment as jurors and will be taken off the campaign trail in early caucus or primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. A Senate trial could take months; a U.S. senator cannot be in two places at the same time. And some voters may wonder how those senators can sit in judgment of an impeached president and be impartial jurors when they have a vested interest in removing the person they are seeking to replace.

Public support for President Trump is a balancing act between rhetoric and results. While many Americans do not like his words, they do like many of his deeds in office — and a president’s greatest strength going into a reelection campaign is his record. Trump is blessed today with great economic numbers; from low interest rates to low unemployment, the nation’s economy is humming. Add to that the fact that we are not at war and our homeland is secure, and you have a recipe for success on Election Day. So President Trump’s prospects will be weighed by his success in keeping his promises thus far and his pledges to build on those in a second term.

If Democrats select a nominee who is unelectable because of a far-left or socialist agenda, then their beds will be made. It is not enough to “hate” Trump out of office — you have to vote him out. Thus, if Democrats overplay their hands on impeachment and removal, and if they select a nominee who is too leftist, they will hand President Trump a second term. Today, Democrats appear way too negative; it simply is not enough to be against something — you have to stand for something that Americans want and need.

Election 2020 will be a stark choice for the electorate. Never before in modern times has there been such a contrast between parties and candidates.

My prediction is that Democrats will keep their majority in the House, Republicans will keep their majority in the Senate, and Trump will be reelected. The reason is simple: Republicans have a record to run on, while Democrats have overreached and are out of touch with the nation’s values, direction and desires.

Bradley A. Blakeman was a deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2004. A principal of the 1600 Group, a strategic communications firm, he is an adjunct professor of public policy and international affairs at Georgetown University and a contributor to Fox News and Fox Business.