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There's a big blue wave coming

There’s a wave coming. A blue wave like the one in 2018. Only bigger. Much bigger. Big enough to sweep away President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE and the Republican majority in the Senate.

We’ve seen wave elections before. There was a Democratic wave in 1964; Republican Barry Goldwater ended up carrying just six states (five in the Deep South and his own state of Arizona). He got 38 percent of the popular vote. 1972 saw a Republican wave; Democrat George McGovern carried only one state (Massachusetts) and the District of Columbia. He got 38 percent of the popular vote. At this point in 1992, the first President Bush was at 38 percent job approval. A few months later, he lost his bid for-re-election. What’s Donald Trump’s latest job approval rating in the Gallup poll? You guessed it — 38 percent.

The anti-Trump wave is building. Every national poll taken over the past month shows Democrat Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump Cruz urges Supreme Court to take up Pennsylvania election challenge MORE leading Trump; the average margin is approaching ten points. Yes, Hillary Clinton was leading Trump in the polls at this stage of the 2016 campaign. But by smaller margins. Moreover, Biden is leading in all of the battleground states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — where Trump won razor-thin victories in 2016. 

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Moreover, Biden is not as unpopular as Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump has discussed possible pardons for three eldest children, Kushner: report McCaskill: 'Hypocrisy' for GOP to target Biden nominee's tweets after Trump Biden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate MORE was. Clinton’s negative ratings in June 2016 averaged 55 percent. The public’s view of Biden is more neutral (45 percent favorable, 46 percent unfavorable in June polling). That’s better than the public’s view of Trump (56 percent unfavorable).

Harry Enten of CNN has examined the thirteen presidential elections involving an incumbent going back to 1940. His conclusion? “No one in an incumbent presidential election has been polling above 50 percent at this point like Biden and gone on to lose.”

Trump has a fatal flaw of character. He lacks empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. That’s a serious flaw at a time when so many Americans are suffering from health anxiety and economic setbacks.

Last year, author Martha Bordwell wrote an article in the MinnPost entitled “Empathy: Its lack is what most disqualifies Donald Trump for the presidency.” She explained, “He has experienced so few of the hardships most of us have endured by the time we reach our seventies.”

Joe Biden exudes empathy. He has suffered immense personal tragedies: the loss of his first wife and infant daughter in an automobile accident a few weeks after he was first elected to the Senate in 1972; in 2015, the loss of his elder son, an Iraq war veteran, to brain cancer.

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The number one issue to voters this year is the pandemic. Democratic pollster Geoff Garin told the Washington Post, “Trump is increasingly defined in voters’ minds by his failing response to the coronavirus crisis, and virtually every action and position he’s taken have been wildly out of sync with where the public is at on what should be done.” The president has said he thinks the virus will “just disappear.” He has consistently downplayed the threat posed by the coronavirus and is urging Americans to learn to live with it. That means learning to live with more than 3 million Americans infected and over 134,000 dead — more than twice as many as the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam war.

President Trump is desperate to change the subject. “We have to get back to business,” he told Axios. “We have to get back to living our lives. Can’t do this any longer.” Faced with a rising death toll, Trump’s response was, “I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down please,’” so he wouldn’t look so bad. Biden’s response? “Make no mistake. We are still in a deep, deep jobs hole because Donald Trump has so badly bungled the response to the coronavirus and now has basically given up responding at all.”

Trump wants to fight another battle in the culture war that’s been going on in this country for more than 50 years. But the surprising support from white Americans for the Black Lives Matter movement carries a message: The country has changed. It’s not 1968 any more.

Joe Biden doesn’t stir a lot of enthusiasm among Democrats. But President Trump does: anti-Trump enthusiasm. The prospect of getting rid of this president is likely to drive a record turnout of Democrats despite their concern about infection. Many will vote by mail — and dare the Trump campaign to challenge their ballots as illegal.

A blue wave this year is also likely to sweep away the Republican majority in the Senate. Democrats will need a net gain of three or four Senate seats. The Cook Political Report rates five currently Republican seats as “toss ups.” Two are in states that Hillary Clinton carried (Colorado and Maine). Two are in increasingly competitive states (Arizona and North Carolina). The Democratic Senate nominee in Montana, Steve BullockSteve BullockOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Down ballot races carry environmental implications | US officially exits Paris climate accord  GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte wins Montana governor's race Senate control in flux as counting goes forward in key states MORE, is the state’s popular governor.

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2020 is also a census year. States with more than one House member will redraw congressional district boundaries for the next decade using the new population figures. According to the Associated Press, “Voters will be electing more than 5,000 state lawmakers in 35 states who will play a significant role in crafting or passing new maps for Congress.” The 2010 Republican wave helped keep a Republican majority in control of the House of Representatives for the next eight years. A blue wave this year could do the same for Democrats.

Donald Trump is not the only one whose fate hangs in the balance in the 2020 election — so does the fate of the Republican Party, which has been fatally seduced by Trump.

Bill Schneider is a professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and author of ‘Standoff: How America Became Ungovernable (Simon & Schuster).