Steven Rattner, a former counselor to the Treasury Secretary under President Obama and a current Wall Street executive, wrote in a New York Times piece this week that Trump is on course to win the 2020 election. Rattner didn’t just rely on his own political savvy to come up with that prediction; instead, he pointed to some of the most accurate political models in the country. Looking at those models, he said, showed that Trump will be tough to defeat in the next election.
“The economy,” Rattner wrote, “invariably ranks among the top issues on the minds of voters in presidential elections. At the moment, it appears to offer President Trump a meaningful tailwind.
“But how big is that tailwind?” he continued. “Fortunately, economists have worked hard to develop models for predicting election outcomes, and according to one of the best of these, it should be quite large.”
To highlight this thesis, Rattner cited three analytic sources that all indicate that Trump is on his way to a second term in office. He noted that Moody’s Mark Zandi has used 12 models that all predict that Trump will come out on top in 2020, and that Trend Macrolytics’ Donald Luskin, with his analysis of the Electoral College, has come to the same conclusion.
But that, Rattner said, was nothing compared to the analysis models developed by Yale’s Ray Fair. Using GDP growth and inflation to determine the outcomes of presidential elections, Fair has had a consistent record of calling the right winner. After all, he was one of the very few political analysts predicting that Trump would win the whole thing last time around. And using Fair’s model, Trump is headed for a resounding win next November.
“In 2020, incumbency will be a tailwind for Mr. Trump as the vast majority of presidents are chosen for a second term,” Rattner concluded. “So the question for 2020 may well be whether Mr. Trump can overcome the majority of voters’ poor perception of him and use a good economy and incumbency to win re-election.”
Which, frankly, is another way of saying: Can Trump overcome the overwhelmingly negative coverage of his administration to win re-election?
To which we can only say: He did it once.