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Democratic Party 2020: Who Will Take on Trump’s Re-election Machine?

The Democratic presidential primary debate that took place on the 15th of October broke the record for the most presidential candidates to take part in such a debate. A total of 12 took to the stage in Otterbein University in Ohio all vying to be the candidate to take on Donald Trump in 2020. The staggering number of candidates still in the race reflects how optimistic they are of defeating the incumbent president. As with all primary races, there are poll toppers, unexpectedly strong candidates and those struggling to stay in the race. 

Former Vice-president Joe Biden is one such poll topper. The 76-year-old has been widely tipped to win the race but has seen other, more progressive candidates gaining and even surpassing his lead in some polls of late. Biden’s strong support is based on the fact he was a popular Vice-president and worked well with former President Barack Obama. He is also considered a more centrist candidate who can perform better with moderates and independents than Trump. 

Another front runner is 2016 candidate Bernie Sanders. Popular with progressive members in the party Sanders narrowly lost the 2016 nomination to Hillary Clinton. Sanders can certainly energise the left and youth of the democratic party whilst also sharing some policy concerns with Donald Trump such as opposing free-trade agreements like the Transpacific trade partnership. Opponents of Sanders say his platform is too radical for the generally conservative political arena that is American politics. 

Elizabeth Warren is also a strong performing progressive who has seen a huge surge in popularity recently. Some polls put the Massachusetts senator in the lead which made her a target in the recent debate. In such a crowded field many of the smaller candidates have been desperate to stand up and separate themselves from the rest of the chasing pack. 

The charismatic former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke was propelled into national attention in his hard-fought senate race with Ted Cruz. O’Rourke has proposed compulsory buybacks of assault weapons, which is a controversial topic in US politics. O’Rourke dropped out of the race on November 1st. 

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg has made a radical proposal to abolish the electoral college system which is used to elect the presidents in the US, while California senator Kamala Harris has made criminal justice reform a centrepiece of her campaign. With many other candidates standing the democratic party has a huge decision in the upcoming primary. Should it nominate a moderate to win over independent voters or should it choose a more radical, progressive candidate to energise the base and tackle important issues like inequality and climate change?

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Republican Party 2020: Impeachment Proceedings Threaten Second Trump Term

If the impeachment inquiry launched by democrats in the house of representatives fails to remove the President, the candidate facing the nominated democrat will be Donald Trump. After winning a bruising Republican primary in 2016 Trump does not have to once again face a serious threat to his nomination. 

Donald Trump has huge support among Republican voters including a large and energised base. A poll among people who identify as Republicans taken in early October gave the president an 87% approval rating, Clearly, this is a huge positive and Trump can rely on support from traditionally conservative states in 2020. Also, this poll indicates an energised base. This is very important for Trump’s get out and vote effort on the 3rd of November next year. However, is this enough to ensure re-election? Trump can’t win on Republican support alone. To win another four years in the White House he will also need to win over moderate voters.

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While Donald Trump lost the popular vote in 2016, he had a clear victory in the electoral college by winning a number of key swing states. In total, the President flipped six swing states that Barack Obama won in his 2012 re-election. They were Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. If Trump manages to hold on to all these swing states, he is almost certain to be re-elected. What will give his campaign a boost is his relatively high approval ratings in these swing states. Take Florida where is approval is 48% and where two republican candidates won state-wide elections in the 2018 mid-term elections. Any democratic candidate would find it very difficult to turn the state blue again. Also, in Ohio and Pennsylvania where his approval stands around 46% and 45% respectively. The figures usually point to re-election, however, that does depend on who his opponent is. If current democratic favourite Joe Biden was to secure the democratic nomination, Trump could struggle to hold these states. Biden is popular in such rust-belt states and the President might find himself looking to pick up votes elsewhere. 

It is very likely that Trump will be on the ticket for re-election in 2020. Despite facing low national approval ratings and an opposition party determined to remove him from office, the president can certainly win another four years. In 2016, he was the underdog and was written off by many. This time around he is in a stronger position. With seemingly unshakable Republican support and a strong electoral position behind him, Democrats have a huge task on their hands to beat Donald Trump. 

 

Conor Paterson – Politics Editor 

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