President Trump doesn’t know who to dig up dirt on next. His original target, Joe Biden, has bumbled into fourth place in the Democratic presidential race, and the other Dems are doing Trump’s work for him by destroying each other.
With the Democratic primary elections entering a decisive phase, intraparty warfare is turning Trump’s opposition into a circus. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg claims to be the only candidate able to run a big enterprise, yet he withered under cross-examination by Elizabeth Warren during a two-hour debate on February 19. A Bloomberg surge in the polls is now promptly reversing itself.
Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg argued about whether she’s smart enough to be president and if he’s too perfect. With too many candidates splitting the vote, radical leftist Bernie Sanders now has the largest clique of voters, and therefore the lead. But he’s far from winning the majority of votes needed to clinch the election, which is why data site fivethirtyeight thinks the most likely winner of the Democratic primaries is … nobody.
No wonder Trump’s approval in Gallup surveys has now hit a personal best of 49% for two months straight. Trump may be a criminal, a crybaby and a bully, but at least he’s not a Democrat.
For investors, the disarray among Democrats suggests an easier path to reelection for Trump and continued supportive conditions for stocks. For those reasons, this week’s Trump-o-meter reads MEDIOCRE, the third-best grade.
With five moderate Democrats—Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Bloomberg and Tom Steyer—and two leftists, Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, still in the race, it looks as if no candidate will win the majority of delegates required to clinch the nomination. That could change if several candidates drop out soon, consolidating the vote. But the candidates still in it all seem determined to make it through Super Tuesday on March 3, when Sanders is likely to do well. It’s quite possible that after Tuesday, nobody will be able to catch Sanders, even though Sanders won’t be able to hit a majority.
A contested Democratic convention in Milwaukee in July would further benefit Trump. It could produce a tainted nominee who lacks full support within the party. It could also generate fighting for months to come. If Sanders isn’t the nominee, some of his supporters have said they won’t support the Democrat and will either sit out the election or back Trump. That’s a nightmare scenario for Democrats that could delegitimize the party for years.
‘Trump’s chances are way overstated’
Trump is no shoo-in, either. One way or another, there will be a Democratic nominee by mid July, and he or should could benefit from Mike Bloomberg’s bottomless funds, along with a hearty endorsement from former president Barack Obama. “Conventional wisdom from Wall Street to Main Street is that President Trump is well on his way to winning a second term,” analysts at Beacon Research wrote to clients on February 20. “We believe the confidence for Trump's chances are way overstated.” Beacon points to sky-high disapproval ratings for Trump, and the likelihood of the Democrats coalescing once they have a nominee to fight for.
And what if Sanders is the Democratic nominee? Many analysts on both sides think Trump would mock Sanders as a befuddled socialist and smash him in a lopsided electoral college win. Yet some polls show Sanders beating Trump in a one-on-one matchup, although by smaller margins than a hypothetical Biden-Trump showdown. It’s possible Sanders could be the sort of appealing outsider Trump was in 2016, with voters willing to take a chance on somebody new. Trump seems to hope so.
Rick Newman is the author of four books, including “Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success.” Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman. Confidential tip line: email@example.com. Encrypted communication available. Click here to get Rick’s stories by email.