On the night of the US presidential election in 2016, it wasn’t just Trump’s opponents who were left in shock by the outcome. Judging by the faces of everyone caught on camera that night, no one, not even Trump himself, actually thought that he was going to win.
His election was hailed by supporters as a vindication of the unlikely candidate’s political genius. The anti-Trump coalition, from Hillary supporters to the Republican never-Trumpers, saw the election as a mere fluke aided by an idiosyncratic electoral-college system. There was zero chance it would happen again. That is, if the first president with no public office or military experience even made it through his first term.
We are now one year into the Trump era, and the haters are changing their tune.
Liberal American magazine The New Republic takes stock on Monday of the increasing chances that the real estate magnate will surprise everyone again.
“I think people just kind of assume he’s a goner,” FiveThirtyEight statistician Nate Silver said recently, “but look, he’s now more in a range where presidents have recovered to win reelection. His approval rating is up to 41 or 42 percent in our tracking. That verges on being a normal number that resembles what happened to Reagan or Clinton or Obama in their second years.”
“When you think you’re destined to win,” said Larry Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, “you’re halfway to losing.”
Columbia University sociology fellow Musa al-Gharbi wrote for The Conversation that “Trump will most likely be reelected […] Trump won his first term despite record low approval ratings, triumphing over the marginally less unpopular Hillary Clinton,” he wrote. “He will probably be able to repeat this feat if necessary.”
Politico wrote on Sunday that “Trump is winning,” warning its liberal readership that “Donald Trump is on track to win reelection to the presidency of the United States.”
But it’s not just Trump’s poll numbers that have improved. The Democrats’ advantage on the generic ballot are also falling, as The Atlantic pointed out.
Democrats recently held a sizable advantage on the generic ballot, which asks respondents around the country whether they intend to vote for a Democrat or Republican for Congress. The gap has not only narrowed, by some accounts it has evaporated. A Politico/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday shows Republicans actually hold a 39-38 edge.
The reality is setting in for America’s left that not only could Trump win a second term, he might also keep a Republican majority in the House of Representatives to support his policy agenda.