Why Trump has already secured a second term — no matter who his opponent is

I’m not a professional political analyst, so my political analysis is worth about what you pay for it. However, a few people who know that I called Donald Trump as the 2016 winner, starting back in 2015, have asked me what I think now.  

My prediction for the 2016 race was based on a variety of observational and anecdotal evidence. I listened to Democrats, Republicans and independents across the U.S. I talked to people who consider themselves apolitical. I heard from taxi and Uber drivers, the Verizon man, stay-at-home moms, college grads, professionals, blue-collar delivery workers. And I watched nearly every rally of Trump and his opponents. 

Now, that same unscientific methodology has led me to conclude that Trump has already secured a second term — no matter who his main opponent turns out to be.

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Obviously, anything can happen, and I am not suggesting that those who support other candidates shouldn’t bother to vote. But as Democrats narrow down their array of personalities and preferences, I think Trump’s path to a second term has far more to do with him than with them.

Here are seven ways I think Trump has already secured a second term:

More experience. Trump is the only candidate who has served as president and commander in chief for four years.

Extreme vetting. Trump has been as thoroughly vetted as any political figure in American history, if not more so. There are few stones that remain unturned except, arguably, his tax returns, which will not make any difference to his supporters. On the other hand, all of his opponents — from former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll The Memo: Political world grapples with long coronavirus shutdown The Hill's Campaign Report: North Carolina emerges as key battleground for Senate control MORE — are fending off new criticisms of their policies and actions.  

The sky didn’t fall. Some Republicans worried that Trump would be too liberal in practice; some independents were wary. Economists predicted the stock market would immediately crash. Critics said Trump would ship out illegal immigrants on trains, expel Muslims from the U.S. and start a nuclear war. With some of the most cataclysmic predictions not coming to pass, some of those who held back in 2016 are coming aboard the Trump train.

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No surprises. Trump has proven to be exactly as he advertised. He has gone from being an unknown to being quite predictable, like him or not.

Track record. While Trump’s critics find much of his track record is objectionable, that same record is just what many of his supporters hoped for — and then some. From record-high employment for African Americans and other minorities, to a new trade deal with China, replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, unbuckling the regulatory environment, moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, progress toward building a border wall and draining the Washington swamp, Trump is picking up some independents, Democrats, blacks and other minorities.

He’s a proven survivor. Not much new can be thrown at Trump that will shake his support. He’s overcome impeachment and a special counsel investigation; he’s survived being called a rapist, racist, liar, tax-evader, Putin stooge, clown, mentally ill, traitor — you name it. It’s hard to imagine he cannot survive more of the same. 

In fact, by Democrats pursuing the strategy of attacking everything President TrumpDonald John TrumpIllinois governor says state has gotten 10 percent of medical equipments it's requested Biden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll Tesla offers ventilators free of cost to hospitals, Musk says MORE does as the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it stuff, their criticism has just become white noise to many Americans. Somehow, he has come out on the other end as politically stronger and looking like a winner. Not only that, but the attacks have all helped to shore up the perception of Trump as an enemy of the “Deep State” fighting against all odds — just in time to build enthusiasm for his 2020 campaign.

Height. Trump is taller than any of the likely Democrat nominees.

The beauty of American elections is that anything can happen. There is plenty of time for Democrats to coalesce around a strong candidate who capitalizes on Trump’s perceived weaknesses and unpopularity among a large segment of the population. But today, if I were betting, all my money would have to be on another Trump victory.

Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) is an Emmy-winning investigative journalist, author of The New York Times best-sellers “The Smear” and “Stonewalled,” and host of Sinclair’s Sunday TV program, “Full Measure.”