As their unpredictable nominating process chugs forward, 2020 Democrats are getting lots of media attention, but a story in Politico covers how the Trump campaign's over-performances in (basically) uncontested GOP contests thus far could be a sign of robust organization and high enthusiasm heading into general election season. Should the opposition party be nervous about the incumbent's show of strength?
President Donald Trump doesn’t have much of a primary fight on his hands — but Republican voters are nevertheless turning out in droves for him, a warning sign for Democrats in November. The massive turnout is a reflection of organic enthusiasm among conservatives and a sophisticated effort by Trump's campaign to rev up its get-out-the-vote machine ahead of the general election...The efforts are paying off, with Republicans turning out in historic numbers. Trump received more than 31,000 votes in the Iowa caucus, surpassing the 25,000 Democrats who turned out during Barack Obama’s successful 2012 reelection bid. Trump’s share was more than four times the number of Republicans who caucused during George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign. The vote totals in New Hampshire were even starker. The president received 129,696 votes, more than doubling Obama and Bush's totals. While it’s unclear what the figures might portend for the general election — the president's job approval numbers remain stuck in the mid-40s in most surveys — the results highlight the degree to which Trump’s base is energized.
I'm certainly not of a mind that these results don't matter at all. Iowa and New Hampshire are not only early nominating states but also 2020 battlegrounds. For Trump to flex electoral support at these levels while 'competing' against token opposition is a significant and positive sign for his re-election campaign. That said, the caveat about the uncertainty of how outcomes like do or do not foreshadow what's coming in the fall is obviously a reality check. In spite of all the superb news and good vibes among the electorate, President Trump's job approval ratings remain lukewarm at best. Team Trump knows this, course, so they're playing to their candidate's strengths. Here's the ad they ran during the Daytona 500, at which the president made quite a splash over the weekend:
This exchange on ABC News' Sunday program underscores the struggle Democrats are going to have in attempting to criticize the incumbent's job performance on the economy:
Recent Gallup polling shows Trump holding a 63 percent economic approval rating, with large majorities expressing optimism and satisfaction over their lives. Former President Obama weighed in on Twitter yesterday in an effort to claim some credit for the current boom:
Eleven years ago today, near the bottom of the worst recession in generations, I signed the Recovery Act, paving the way for more than a decade of economic growth and the longest streak of job creation in American history. pic.twitter.com/BmdXrxUAUf— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 17, 2020
Obama presided over some positive developments, to be sure, but his 'Recovery' Act was extraordinarily wasteful and failed on its advocates' own benchmarks, other major policies held back job and GDP growth, and the comeback he's touting was the slowest US recovery since World War II. The Trump economy, unleashed by tax and regulatory reform, is stronger than Obama's economy in nearly every way. I'll leave you with a reminder that, by a double digit margin, voters assign more credit to the 45th president than his immediate predecessor:
By a (62/37) margin, Americans say President Trump deserves a 'great deal' or a 'fair amount' of credit for the strong economy -- vs. little or no credit.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) February 12, 2020
Voters split almost evenly on credit for President Obama (51/48).https://t.co/La6jV8Re7i