The polls don’t look good for Donald Trump.
I mean, by any normal yardstick, the President is heading for a defeat in the 2020 election.
He’s lagging behind in many of the crucial states that swung the White House his way in 2016 – like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Indeed, the polls look so worrying that Trump’s team fired several internal pollsters when the shock numbers leaked, in a Kim Jong-un style ‘do not bring the boss bad news’ move.
Yet when Trump launched his 2020 campaign on Tuesday night in Orlando, Florida, I didn’t sense I was watching a guy who’s going to lose.
In fact, I got the complete opposite feeling.
Trump exuded the confident all-conquering swagger of someone who defied all polls and logic last time, and fully intends to do so again.
President Donald Trump pumps his fist after speaking during his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, in Orlando, Florida
It was a virtuoso Trump rally performance, carried out with all the passion, energy, chutzpah and showmanship of another septuagenarian, Mick Jagger, strutting around a big stadium.
Like any great entertainer (and I appreciate not everyone finds Trump entertaining…), he belted out all his greatest crowd-pleasing hits from The Wall and ‘Fake News’ media to the rigged system, special counsel Mueller’s ‘witch-hunt’ and ‘bogus’ Russia collusion.
There was some recently added material, including repeated attacks on ‘Sleepy Joe Biden’ and Trump even revealed a brand new recording – his debut impression of ‘Crooked’ Hillary Clinton saying during one of their 2016 TV debates, ‘If I win, are you going to support me?’
The audience loved it all, roaring their approval throughout.
And of course, liberal-dominated Twitter hated it, roaring its own disapproval throughout as clips hit social media.
The vast chasm between pro-Trumpers and anti-Trumpers is just as wide and divisive as it’s been since his shock election win.
But the President’s demeanor should strike the fear of God into his opponents, because he looks and sounds in the form of his short political life.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is leading the pack in the poll from Quinnipiac University
Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden is pictured above addressing the Moral Action Congress of the Poor People’s Campaign on Monday at Trinity Washington University in Washington, DC
When I interviewed Trump in London during his UK state visit several weeks ago, I remarked to people afterwards that I had never seen him so relaxed, or indeed presidential.
It seemed as if the lifting of the toxic, draining Russia collusion and Mueller report millstone had not just reinvigorated him, but newly empowered him.
I think the whole bitter experience – based on what turned out to be a falsehood that he colluded with Russia to fix the 2016 election – made him realize it’s pointless trying to persuade those who hate him to like him.
Instead, he’s refocused on ensuring all those who like him vote him in again.
Though the truth is Trump’s never really stopped campaigning.
He’s spent two-and-a-half years bombarding Americans with relentless self-aggrandizing tweets, speeches, rallies and media interviews – all designed to keep his base pot boiling.
And his strategy has clearly worked.
Everyone seems to forget that Trump won with just 46.1% of the national vote in 2016. His current approval rating is around 45%.
And as the New Yorker reminds us today, the day before the 2016 election, just 37.5% of American voters – according to Real Clear Politics poll average – had a ‘favorable’ opinion of Trump.
So, either the polls were wrong or a lot of people voted for Trump despite not liking him.
The latest R.C.P. poll average shows Trump’s favorability opinion at 43.8% – over six percentage points higher than when he won last time.
The reason for this is almost certainly due to the indisputably excellent performance of the U.S. economy.
GDP numbers are strong, unemployment has fallen to an historic low of just 3.5%, and stock markets have surged to record highs.
A Fox News poll released Sunday shows Trump trailing every leading Democratic contender, including Pete Buttigieg. Biden earned 49 per cent support from registered voters compared to Trump’s 39 per cent
The majority of Americans may still have a low opinion of Trump personally, but when it comes to the economy a big majority says they feel ‘optimistic’.
The great mantra of electability in US politics remains ‘It’s the economy, stupid’ and on that key issue, Trump’s delivering in large spades.
There’s another financial reason why Trump should feel emboldened.
His 2020 ‘Keep America Great’ campaign has already raised nearly $100 million including $24 million within one day of his official re-launch this week.
Winning U.S. presidential races takes deep pockets, and Trump has donations pouring in from wealthy Republicans who’ve been delighted by his first term of office, not least because of the extensive tax cuts that have made them loads of cash.
Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to complain about his position in the polls. He claimed he’d be ‘winning by 20 points,’ if it were for Democrats and the media
Importantly, and in contrast to 2016, Trump has the almost universal support of his party this time.
The GOP’s come to the conclusion that his bark is worse than his bite, and Trump’s a winner.
So they hold their nose when he says outrageous stuff because the cold hard reality of what he’s actually doing speaks louder than his inflammatory rhetoric.
Trump, if you ignore the tweets and trash-talk, is delivering on many of his promises and performing like a solid Republican president.
He’s got two Conservatives onto the Supreme Court, he’s crushed ISIS in Syria and Iraq, he’s forced peace rather than expensive war, he’s got the economy motoring, and his tough positions on illegal immigration at the southern border and the serious danger posed by Iran have both been vindicated – at least to the GOP – by recent events.
As a result, his base is happy.
I’ve spent a lot of time filming crime documentaries in places like Texas, Florida and Alabama in the past year, and the Trump Train isn’t just still travelling in his heartland – it’s steaming.
And the Democrats seem all over the place, unsure whether to go for the age and experience of Joe Biden or the youth and inexperience of a Mayor Pete, and even more unsure whether to pivot to the center or the left.
They’ve stuck their heads like ostriches into the sand, and appear terrified to stick them out again lest the big bad beast of Trump shoots them down again.
So as things stand – and notwithstanding unexpected events that can derail any presidency – I am going to ignore the polls and predict Trump will win comfortably in 2020.
To all those who scoff at this prediction, I simply remind you that you all scoffed last time when I repeatedly said Trump would win despite widespread poll evidence to the contrary.
Pictured above, 20 Democratic 2020 presidential candidates who have been invited to two nights of presidential primary debates set for June 26 and 27, 2019 in Miami Florida
Another person who did the same was filmmaker Michael Moore who loathes Trump with a visceral passion but is smart enough to see the wood for the trees.
He sat down to witness the re-launch rally and tweeted yesterday morning: ‘I watched the whole thing last night. I know no one wants to waste that kind of time even looking at him, but not wanting to see the enormity of the fight ahead doesn’t make it go away. He hasn’t lost one inch of his fired-up base. Are u ready?’
I don’t think most Democrats understand the enormity of the fight, let alone be ‘ready’ for what’s coming in 2020.
They’re brimming with the same entitled, arrogant ‘we’ll beat Trump because he’s a moron’ nonsense that Hillary spewed throughout the last campaign to catastrophic self-harm.
They don’t really have their own plan to make – or keep! – America great, other than to demonize the President all over again, aided and abetted by a largely liberal media that’s lost all sense of impartiality over Trump and just rants hysterically about him 24/7 because a) it makes them feel good and b) it makes them big money.
So it all feels like déjà vu to me.
Trump’s running the same playbook with the same messaging to the same enthralled base, and his opponents, and the Trump-bashing media, are playing right into his hands all over again.
The Democrats have just 20 months to sort their own sh*t out, or what they perceive as the Trump sh*t show gets another four years.