It’s still a full two years before we truly begin the 2020 presidential season, but things are already looking rough for Republican President Donald Trump’s reelection hopes.
The president has been badgered by non-stop scandal, and his approval ratings are the most dismal in history. Could a primary challenger be in the works — and, if so, could it be Arizona Senator Jeff Flake?
According to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal polling data, President Trump has seen a minor improvement in his popularity. But while that silver lining may keep him from ranting on Twitter about “fake media” polls, the underlying takeaway is that he continues to be the least popular president ever.
Stay in the loop
Never miss the news and analysis you care about.
President Donald Trump may have seen his approval rating get a slight bump this month, but he is lagging well behind his predecessors at this point of his presidency, a new poll shows. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday shows Trump’s approval rating stands at 43 percent, an increase of 4 percent from the same poll taken in January. Unfortunately for President Trump, the poll shows the majority (53 percent) continue to disapprove of his performance.
The polling shows clear indication that the sitting president is in trouble come 2020, and his prospects could be even worse should the GOP get the drubbing that many expect come the 2018 midterm elections. With the number of special election losses that have already struck the beleaguered Republican party, a true blue wave in November could push the right into doing the unthinkable: challenging their own sitting commander-in-chief.
The odds of this occurring may seem astronomical — but then again, no one thought that Donald Trump would win the general election, either, and here we are in year two of his term. And with the president already on the verge of impeachment or a possible jail sentence, it makes sense that some Republicans are preparing for any “what if” scenario that might arise.
Enter Arizona Senator Jeff Flake.
Just a few years ago, the Republican senator was considered a far-right fringe politician. But now that the GOP has moved so far right that the Tea Party is viewed as mainstream, Flake sits in prime position to make a move for an even higher office.
After deciding not to run for reelection in 2018, Flake has spent his last year in office presenting himself as the “anti-Trump” — especially when it comes to immigration. Now, he appears to want to move that “anti-Trump” persona into a future 2020 primary.
“The next presidential primaries here are nearly two years away, but the unusual flurry of activity is stoking speculation about whether a sitting president could face a serious challenge from within his own party for the first time in a quarter-century,” reports the Washington Post. “In 1992 — the last time that happened — Pat Buchanan’s strong GOP primary showing here helped weaken incumbent George H.W. Bush, who went on to lose reelection against Democrat Bill Clinton.”
Then there is Flake himself, adding a little flame to the fire and begging for a GOP challenger to the president. “I hope that somebody does challenge the President,” Flake said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “What I’m seeing is that there is a crying need out there for some Republicans to stand up and say, ‘This is not normal, this is not right.'”
Is Flake really going to be the new GOP’s great hope? Probably not, and odds are he’s not really going to follow through with a primary challenge.
Like Ohio Governor John Kasich, Flake is less likely to launch an actual attempt to take down the president and put his own political neck at risk in the process. Instead, these two Republicans are simply jumping on he bandwagon early to distance themselves from President Trump, who will likely squander his majorities.
Republican politicians like Jeff Flake and John Kasich have spent far too long crafting their own careers to jeopardize them in order to “save” the party, or even the US itself. The same need for self-preservation that kept most of the GOP leaders quiet — even when they knew about Russian involvement in the 2016 election – will keep candidates like Kasich and Flake attacking Trump while it is politically expedient.
No, President Trump is not going to see a real GOP primary challenger. After all, they’re far too busy planning their 2024 presidential campaigns.