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2020 US Election: Could Trump be replaced on the Republican ticket?

Former US Congressman Joe Walsh
Could one-time Trump supporter Joe Walsh take down the president?
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Amid worsening polls, a few former Donald Trump supporters are trying to take him down. Paul Krishnamurty reports on an emerging primary challenge...

"Few believe Walsh can beat Trump but his role is more nuanced. A 'stalking horse' whose job is to challenge and unsettle the incumbent, with a view to paving the way for an alternative nominee."

Donald Trump is weakening on Betfair's 2020 US Election markets. From a low of [1.98] he's out to [2.24] in the wake of atrocious polls and ever more erratic behaviour. There's also a minor move against him to be the Republican Nominee, from [1.08] to [1.14].

Granted, these are lower odds than the levels I've repeatedly advised laying at ever since he won the presidency. My average lay point is 2.62. No matter - I'm more confident now than ever.

Polls deteriorating as problems mount

Persistently dire, Trump's numbers are worsening. His approval rating has fallen with various top-rated pollsters with AP's 36/62 split the worst. Poll after poll show a plurality, up to the high fifties, say they want somebody else.

This during a particularly awful news cycle that shows no sign of abating. Following his 'send them back' slogan aimed at American-born Democrat Congresswomen, 57% say he fuels white supremacy. As explained last week, an impeachment trial could be looming. Various ongoing investigations keep revealing more scandal.

Ridiculing his mental health is now a mainstream talking point - reinforced by his bizarre, spurned attempt to buy Greenland and declaring himself as 'The Chosen One'.

Recession fears hurt re-election message

More damaging, to his re-election message, is talk of recession. The stock market is down and nervy as the trade war with China ramps up. Dire polls are, naturally, dismissed as fake, even when from Fox News.

Nobody is attacking more vociferously than Anthony Scaramucci. Famous for being White House Press Secretary for all of 11 days, 'The Mooch' has spent the past fortnight hammering Trump on Twitter and the TV studios, labelling him a 'complete lunatic' and fascist despot.

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Joe Walsh declares primary bid

Trump now has a second primary challenger. Former Libertarian Bill Weld has made zero impact but Joe Walsh is cutting through to mainstream media. Unlike Weld, the former Illinois Congressman was an enthusiastic MAGA supporter in 2016. A flame-throwing shock jock, who was elected among the Tea Party wave.

Walsh promises to punch Trump every day - to bring down the bully. He's been calling Trump out for years - as a bad person, a criminal and traitor regarding his alliance with Vladimir Putin - on Twitter.

Few believe Walsh - available at [300.0] for the presidency and [50.0] for the nomination - can beat Trump in a straight-up election but his role is more nuanced. A 'stalking horse' whose job is to challenge and unsettle the incumbent, with a view to paving the way for an alternative nominee.

Last year, I predicted that Trump would not seek re-election in expectation of this kind of scenario. Where his brand is so damaged, opposition so entrenched, that the party regard him a liability.

Nikki Haley is the likeliest alternative

This is precisely Scaramucci's point - he still likes the policies but wants the board to choose another CEO. When coming out as a NeverTrumper, he casually mentioned a friendship with Nikki Haley - widely regarded as the likeliest replacement.

For her part, the former UN Ambassador made a point of distancing herself from speculation that she was being lined up to replace Mike Pence as VP. That could just be a smart move to avoid having to reject or otherwise be associated with Trump in 2024. Equally doing so leaves her free to 'jump in' if required in an emergency. If you're looking for an outsider punt on the presidency, Haley at [130.0] has potential.

Should we take these independent-minded Republicans seriously, having failed to muster a blow on Trump since 2015? Convincing the GOP base is a tall order, for sure, but they are not the usual suspects - intellectuals like David Frum or Bill Kristol. Walsh is a flame thrower who can communicate with that base. Mooch is like a younger Trump.

Trump's 'winner' brand was always a myth

Senior Republicans and their donor network are surely having these conversations privately. They must know the grim numbers. As explained last November, following the best Democrat mid-term performance since Watergate, Trump's path to re-election is incredibly narrow.

His 2016 win on 46.1% required a statistical miracle to win the electoral college despite losing the popular vote by nearly 3M. His approvals in the decisive states are way down. Turnout is spiking, mostly in the Democrats favour. Trump will need to win new, extra voters, of whom there is no evidence.

After the shock of 2016, a false narrative emerged that Trump was an electoral asset. Far from it - he was fortunate to face an almost equally unpopular opponent. On the same day, Trump won 3% less than the GOP's winning national share in House races. Democrats are currently 9% up on the same generic ballot.

Some Republicans are finally getting it. To reiterate, because it is hard to predict when something will become unsustainable, does not stop it being so.


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Follow Paul on Twitter and check out his website, Political Gambler.

Paul Krishnamurty,

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