E.J. Dionne thinks they very well might, and for once I agree with him. So, apparently, do some Republican Senators. (I hope I’m wrong. If I am, it won’t be the first time I have underestimated President Trump and the American public.)
Let’s start with the presidential race. Come November, the U.S. will likely be in a depression. Deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. might well be in the 125,000-150,000 range. A new wave of the virus might be adding to the toll.
If President Trump wins reelection under circumstances like these, he will prove himself the unsurpassed political genius he thinks he is.
It is true that Trump won’t be facing a high quality opponent. However, Joe Biden isn’t disliked or distrusted the way Hillary Clinton is. And the pandemic will give him an excuse to run a campaign that doesn’t fully expose his deficiencies.
In any event, history tells us that when an incumbent president runs, the election is mostly a referendum on the incumbent — in reality, a referendum on how the country is doing. In all likelihood, the country won’t be doing well as the election approaches.
Dionne’s column focuses on the Senate. There is reason to think the Democrats might well capture it. As far as I know, there is only vulnerable Democrat — Doug Jones of Alabama. He seems almost certain to lose.
Highly vulnerable Republicans include Cory Gardner, Susan Collins, Thom Tillis, Steve Daines, and Martha McSally. There are a few other Republicans who seem somewhat vulnerable.
If four of the five highly vulnerable Republicans lose, along with Jones, then barring the unexpected, the Senate will be controlled by the party that wins the White House.
Democrats already control the House. I see little chance of the GOP recapturing it if, come November, the country is in the kind of shape I expect it to be in.
It wouldn’t be an E.J. Dionne column if I didn’t find something with which to disagree. This time, the disagreement is with his final paragraph:
If the GOP does lose everything, it will be because the Trumpian circus-plus-horror-show is entirely off-key for an electorate that has so much to be serious about.
No. If the GOP loses everything, it will be because of a pandemic that, whatever Trump’s response (and his response could have been better), was bound to produce effects of one kind or another that would make it extraordinarily difficult for any incumbent president to win reelection.