Will Trump be re-elected?

With the November 2020 Presidential election over three years away, it may seem strange to be discussing the prospects for President Trump to be re-elected.

Yet, even at this early stage, some things are clear if he is around and runs again. His biggest problems are his inability, despite majorities in the House and Senate, to pass any major legislation. He has not built the famous wall, torpedoed ObamaCare or done tax reform. He has repeatedly battled senior members of the Republican Party (Mitch McConnell and John McCain), tweeted frequently at three in the morning and even spoken about consequences for those who fail to salute the American flag at NFL games.

Yet, he has also done several things that led to a rise in his public approval rating to 43 percent.  His appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, continuing growth of 3 percent in the American economy, record highs for the stock market and low unemployment have aided his image. His response to the hurricanes in Mexico, Florida and Texas and his offer to work with the Democrats after his meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer as also improved his image.  A recent poll showed him ahead of Hillary Clinton by six points, 36 percent to 30 percent

President Trump has already started campaigning for 2018 congressional elections and the 2020 presidential and congressional elections. He has visited so many red states so many times (like Mississippi, Alabama, Iowa, Indiana and West Virginia) that Real Clear Politics calls him the President of the Red States.

The issues of ObamaCare could be bad or it could be good for Donald Trump. If ObamaCare straightens out and maintains its 60 percent+ popularity next year, then the Republicans will look hopeless. If it has serious problems then it could have a neutral or even positive impact on the Republicans who tried to fix it. Similarly, the tough line on North Korea could look good for the president if he backed off or could turn into a disaster in several ways.

President Trump has a reasonable chance of being reelected.  Historically, 70 percent, or twelve of seventeen 20th century incumbent presidents seeking a second term have won re-election. Fully six of seven Democratic presidents and six of ten Republican presidents have been re-elected.

The likely Democratic candidate, as reflected in the 21 people most frequently mentioned as possible nominees, have their own problems. Overwhelmingly the great majority are either lawyers (12) or billionaire business entrepreneurs (5), people whose wealth and working places are far removed from those of the average American. This is reinforced in the fact that almost half of them (9 of 21) graduated from Ivy League schools, which account for only 1 ercent of college or professional graduates. The early leaders are white and wealthy which puts them far away from the large middle and working-class elements and the powerful Democratic base in the African American, Latino and Asian American identity groups.

They are overwhelmingly male (17 of 21 people) and the early favorites for the nomination will be disproportionately elderly in 2020--California Governor Jerry Brown (82), former Vice President Joe Biden (78), Senator Bernie Sanders (78), former Senator Hillary Clinton (73) and longshots such as Bob Iger (69), Howie Schultz (67) and Oprah Winfrey (66).

Also, they are overwhelmingly from the West or East Coast, areas that any Democratic candidate is likely to carry. Only a handful come from the middle of the country’s red states and working class/middle class elements that Trump carried so well in 2016.

Many of them have moved well to the left which calls into question their ability to carry the more moderate electoral elements in society. It may work and it might not.

Right now, the outcome of the 2020 elections for Donald Trump could well go either way, being re-elected or being drubbed at the polls. Only time will turn what happens but the very early indications are that either is possible.

Jonathan Adelman is a professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.  Adelman has written several books on Russia and was Condoleezza Rice's doctoral adviser.