Donald Trump’s Path to Victory
PLEASE NOTE: I am not predicting that this WILL happen, nor am I saying that I WANT this to happen. This is simply my speculation as to how Donald Trump COULD conceivably become our next President.
As horrifying as it may sound to much of America and the world beyond, you simply can’t dismiss the possibility that Donald Trump will be our next President. In order to win, Trump would have to overcome several obstacles. Here’s how it could happen:
Trump wins in Iowa, with Cruz coming in second. He then wins New Hampshire and South Carolina. In March, as the rest of the world condemns Trump as racist and unhinged, he continues to lead in the polls.
By now, the Republican “establishment” was hoping to have a solid mainstream candidate to challenge Trump. However — and this point is crucial — none of the other major candidates, Cruz, Rubio, Christie, Bush, Kasich, or Carson — are willing to drop out of the race. This is where Citizens United comes back to haunt the Republican Party, because each of these candidates have one or more billionaires funding Super PACs that support their campaign. So even candidates who are low in the polls have just enough money to run at least a bare bones operation while relying on the Super PACs to fund advertisements and events. They all look back at John McCain’s miraculous comeback in the primary of 2008 and believe they can pull off the same. As a result, Cruz and the establishment candidates continue to split the vote and prevent any one person from forming a serious challenge to Trump.
As winter turns to spring, the establishment is terrified that Trump can’t be stopped. Then, America is hit with one or more terrorist attacks, either real or perceived. Maybe there is another genuine mass shooting like San Bernardino or Paris. Or maybe there are threats of imminent or planned mass murders. There are rumors that ISIS is getting stronger. There are rumors that somewhere in the United States, a Muslim tried to “behead” a neighbor for some misdeed against Islam. Whether or not these rumors are substantiated, the nation is on high alert.
Whatever outrageous racist, sexist, or otherwise offensive statement Trump makes, voters are willing to overlook or ignore them because, more than the other candidates, Trump makes them feel safe. Trump also manages to bring out of the shadows large groups of people who haven’t voted in several years. They are excited about Trump and many of them actually show up to vote.
In June, the Republican Party reluctantly hands over the nomination to Trump. There may or may not be a brokered convention. True to his word, Bill Kristol, founder and editor of The Weekly Standard, immediately denounces Trump and tries to persuade one of the losing candidates to run as an independent. Eventually, Ted Cruz, who finishes second in the primary, decides to run as under the newly named “Freedom Party.” But few people are willing to go along and almost no one from the establishment — who never liked Cruz to begin with — endorses his third party campaign.
The General Election
Hillary Clinton, after a neck and neck race in Iowa and an early loss in New Hampshire, is able to pull away from Bernie Sanders in Nevada and South Carolina. By the spring, she has the Democratic primary all but locked up. There continue to be rumors that the Department of Justice will indict her either for her private email server or for what happened in Benghazi, but those rumors fizzle out. After Trump captures the Republican nomination, early polling shows that in a head-to-head race, Hillary is the prohibitive favorite to win. Once again Hillary is deemed “the inevitable candidate.”
However, by the middle of the summer, the U.S. economy takes a serious turn for the worse. The Federal Reserve had been raising interest rates by a quarter point every other month, but by July it becomes clear that even this slow and gradual rise was too much, too soon. In August, the Fed makes an unplanned and unexpected announcement that they will reverse course and start lowering interest rates again. But their decision only sows panic, confusion, and uncertainty in the financial markets.
The stock market starts to plummet in September and October. Unemployment rates go up. Leading economic indicators go down. Home prices go down. There’s talk of deflation. The irony that this is happening at the end of Barack Obama’s term in office, just as it did back in 2008 when he was running for office, is not lost on anyone.
Residents of the central and northern parts of Florida as well as the greater Cincinnati region of Ohio are experiencing this downturn even more so severely than the rest of the country. The unemployment rate is slightly higher in these regions than the nation as a whole. Headlines scream of teacher layoffs, of new jobs being replaced by robots, and of workers fleeing unions in droves.
The election becomes a referendum on the status quo, and people are very unhappy. Hillary prohibits any major official from the White House, including the President himself, from campaigning on her behalf.
Donald Trump brands himself as CEO-in-chief. He touts his business savvy. He says the current leaders in Washington D.C. are stupid and disgusting and don’t know how to run an economy. Incredibly, he attacks Hillary as a “multi-millionaire” who is out of touch with the working class. Incredibly, these attacks hit home. Hillary retorts that Trump himself is a billionaire, but polls consistently show that voters find Trump to be “more like them” than Hillary. Meanwhile, in the midst of the new financial crisis and without any solid ideas for turning the economy around, Ted Cruz’s third party campaign fails to make any waves.
Donald Trump wins 50.9% of the popular vote in the general election to Hillary Clinton’s 48.5%. The rest of the votes go to Cruz, Rand Paul, and a smattering of write-in’s. Trump carries Ohio, carries Florida, and unexpectedly carries New Jersey, among other states. Donald Trump becomes the next president of the United States.
A lot of bad things would have to happen in this country over the next year for my scenario above to happen, including terrorist attacks and a new recession. I can’t imagine any scenario where Trump wins if there is general peace and prosperity in the country. So other than possibly Donald Trump himself, nobody would wish for events to play out this way. But could it happen? I think it’s highly unlikely, but it could happen.