America's lame-duck leader

America's lame-duck leader
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From the day Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBroward County official Brenda Snipes submits resignation after criticism Retired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks 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 CorkerCorker: 'Everything points' to Saudi crown prince ordering Khashoggi's killing CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Khashoggi murder: report  McConnell, Flake clash over protecting Mueller probe 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 JohnsonFDA tobacco crackdown draws fire from right Overnight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — FDA restricts sales of flavored e-cigs | Proposes ban on menthol in tobacco | Left wants vote on single-payer bill in new Congress | More than 12k lost Medicaid in Arkansas Commerce Department IG to audit Trump's tariff exemptions 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 McCainDem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 Trump set to have close ally Graham in powerful chairmanship Cindy McCain takes aim at Trump: We need a strong leader, 'not a negative Nancy' MORE (R-Ariz.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSenate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks Trump’s relationship with Saudi crown prince under pressure Graham urges McConnell to allow vote on bill to protect Mueller MORE (R-Neb.), Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellJim Carrey on potentially losing fans over his anti-Trump Twitter art: 'Lose them' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks Graham urges GOP leadership to bring vote on criminal justice reform MORE (R-Ky.), and Corker have all been on the end of barbed Trump tweets. Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump labels Schiff ‘little Adam Schitt’ Top House Oversight Dem says he will do ‘anything and everything’ to make Mueller’s findings public Watchdog group demands release of Whitaker's financial disclosures MORE and, more recently, Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonWhite House ousts Sessions Trump downplays potential turnover: 'Everybody wants to work in this White House' Trump says Cabinet changes likely after midterms 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 PencePence: US will hold those responsible for Khashoggi's murder accountable Trump privately asking aides if Pence is loyal: report North Korea's Kim oversees new weapons test 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 RyanCalif. congresswoman-elect bumps into Pelosi at airport How this year’s freshmen can save the Congress — and themselves Democrat Katie Porter unseats GOP's Mimi Walters MORE (R-Wis.), Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillary advisers battle over whether she’ll run in 2020 Rubio defends '3 point kick' analogy: 'You think everyone who follows politics knows what a field goal is?' Lawmakers to introduce bipartisan bill targeting China's treatment of Muslims MORE (R-Fl.), and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 Reelection campaign starts now, like it or not Rise of big cities push Texas to swing-state territory — maybe by 2020 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.”