Democrats cannot and should not become complacent at any point between now and the 2020 election nor should we discount Trump's chances of being reelected, but you may have noticed that Trump's approval rating has been in freefall for the past few months.
Trump has never received high approval ratings for his handling of most issues, but his overall approval rating is tanking now because public approval of his handling of the economy is turning for the worse.
A clear majority of Americans say they believe a recession is coming in the next year according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll and, more importantly, respondents say Trump's trade war has made a recession more likely.
Ratings of the U.S. economy overall, 56% positive, are down from 65% last fall in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Most ominously, 60% see a recession as very or somewhat likely in the next year. That’s within sight of the 69% who said so in November 2007, in advance of the Great Recession.
In another measure, Trump gets far more criticism than credit for his economic stewardship. Americans by nearly a 3-1 margin, 43-16%, say his trade and economic policies have increased rather than decreased the chance of a recession in the next year.
The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and Democratic candidates should consider these numbers before they even vaguely support the basis of Trump's trade war.
Democrats don't need to pander to self-interested trade industry lobbies by vaguely condemning China's "unfair trade practices," or whatever, because they represent a shrinking constituency that soon won't exist.
The best message for 2020 is a clean break from Trump's trade war. Actually confronting the complexities of global trade and intellectual property rights is something the next administration should discuss once they're actually in a position to handle it correctly, not while Trump is still calling the shots.