Donald Trump Looks Destined for Failure

Donald Trump

Donald Trump Looks Destined for Failure

All along Donald Trump’s fans have been alleging that this consummate showman would be able to manipulate the trial in New York for his own benefit. But the reverse may well happen


Robert Kennedy, Jr. is looking like the Ross Perot of 2024. In 1992, Perot was an independent candidate for the presidency who secured almost 19 percent of the vote, allowing Bill Clinton to win the presidency with 43 percent of the vote to George H.W. Bush’s 37.4 percent.

With his firebrand populist rhetoric, Perot anticipated the candidacy of Donald Trump in 2016.


Now history may repeat itself. It appears that Kennedy is poised to cut into Trump’s final tally. Though Kennedy hails from a Democratic lineage, his appeal appears to be much stronger to the Trump base than it does Democrats.

A new Marist College poll shows that Biden’s support goes way up when third-party candidates are included—in a multi-party field, he holds a five-percentage point lead over Trump.

A NBC News poll suggests that Biden would enjoy a 2-percentage point lead over Trump in a crowded field. It’s only when the election is a binary choice between Trump and Biden that the former commands a lead in the presidential race.

As Aaron Blake notes in the Washington Post, Kennedy “takes twice as much of his support from voters who had previously picked Trump in the head-to-head question (15 percent of those voters) than those who had picked Biden (7 percent).”

This result is likely to cause consternation in the Trump camp. Until now, the conventional wisdom had been that Kennedy posed a threat to Biden’s reelection. Democrats were fretting that Kennedy got on the ballot in Michigan on the Natural Law Party ticket. But the latest polls indicate that Kennedy’s unusual stands, including his opposition to any vaccinations, are attracting voters who might otherwise support Trump. (In New Hampshire, Republican legislators are promoting a bill to eliminate requirements for polio vaccines to enroll kids in childcare.)

The bad news for Trump isn’t confined to Kennedy. The latest polls indicate that slowly but surely, Biden is not merely climbing back into contention against Trump but actually surpassing him. The Marist poll indicates that Biden enjoys a three-percentage point advantage over Trump among nationally registered voters. Trump has lost the support of independents. In addition, his unfavourability ratings have increased. Previously he had a 15-percentage advantage over Biden—now the two are essentially tied.

What are the polls likely to disclose in the coming months? As Biden steadily campaigns in swing states like Pennsylvania, where he recently announced a raft of protectionist measures to curb steel imports, he is likely to continue to improve in the polls. Trump is stuck in a jury trial in a Manhattan courthouse, where he is being charged with a criminal coverup and conspiracy to influence the 2016 election. He got more bad news today when Judge Juan Merchan ruled that prosecutors will have the leeway to cross-examine him about previous rulings that he played fast and loose with his property values and that he defamed advice columnist E. Jean Carroll in asserting that he did not rape her. If the likelihood that Trump would take the stand seemed small before, it appears infinitesimal now.

All along Trump’s fans have been alleging that this consummate showman would be able to manipulate the trial in New York for his own benefit. But the reverse may well happen. As Trump’s political and financial machinations in 2016 are exposed in the courtroom, his appeal to independent voters seems likely to wane further rather than increase. In homing in on “election fraud,” as prosecutor Matthew Colangelo did, he is taking one of Trump’s standard talking points and using it to indict his character and behavior. That Trump would be hoist by his own petard is not an outcome that many observers had anticipated before the trial began.

About the Author: Jacob Heilbrunn

Jacob Heilbrunn is editor of The National Interest and is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. He has written on both foreign and domestic issues for numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Reuters, Washington Monthly, and The Weekly Standard. He has also written for German publications such as Cicero, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Der Tagesspiegel. In 2008, his book They Knew They Were Right: the Rise of the Neocons was published by Doubleday. It was named one of the one hundred notable books of the year by The New York Times. He is the author of America Last: The Right’s Century-Long Romance with Foreign Dictators.

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