President Donald Trump has the biggest re-election challenge faced by any sitting U.S. president in the post-war years, according to a political analyst who spoke at today's National Association of Health Underwriters Capitol Conference.
Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report, discussed Trump's re-election prospects as part of a presentation on the current and future political landscape.
For Trump to win a second term in 2020, he must overcome approval ratings that haven't hit the 50 percent mark while reaching out to middle-of- the-road voters.
Polls show that an estimated 35 percent of voters "will vote for Trump no matter what," Cook said, 45 percent "will never vote for him in a million years" and 20 percent are in the middle.
The votes of that 20 percent group are up for grabs in 2020 but Trump is not going after this group.
"He needs to get two-thirds to three-quarters of this group. He needs to talk more to them, but he is not doing it," Cook said.
'Most Important Issue'
The economy will be a factor influencing the 2020 elections but it may not be the most important one, said Stuart Rothenberg, senior editor of Inside Elections.
"The economy is the most important issue when things are bad," he said. "When the economy is strong, people worry about other things - health care, guns, education and the like."
Recent polls show voters name health care costs as their biggest concern, with the economy ranked third, he said.
The makeup of the voting public also will influence future elections, Rothenberg said. White voters are projected to decrease from 76 percent of the electorate in 2000 to 66 percent in 2020.
Meanwhile, black and Hispanic voters will see their percentages increase.
Trump's fate is more in the hands of the Democrats than in his own party, Cook said.
"If the Democrats had a candidate who is less polarizing, they would be able to win the group in the middle," he said.
Although the Democratic party is more liberal today than it was when Bill Clinton became president, Cook said a recent Pew survey of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic showed 54 percent said they want to see the party become more moderate while 40 percent want to see it become more liberal.
A similar poll showed 56 percent of likely Democratic voters said they want to see the party nominate a candidate who would be a stronger opponent to Trump as opposed to favoring a candidate who they agree with on the issues.
" I have never seen Democrats in a more pragmatic mood about wanting to win," Cook said. "They are saying, 'I want someone who can beat Trump.'"
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at[email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
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