Tags: 2020 Elections | Donald Trump | George Floyd Protests | Joe Biden | Trump Administration | riots | protests

How Will Riots Affect Trump Reelection?

protesters stand near the white house on may 31,
Protesters stand near the White House on May 31, one week after the death of George Floyd. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By Monday, 01 June 2020 01:53 PM Current | Bio | Archive

As curfews are ordered by mayors from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, scores of governors, county officials, and political analysts are beginning to ask just how President Donald Trump will be affected by the nationwide violence resulting from the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd.

Will a resulting backlash to the violence from middle-class voters boost Trump to reelection, or will a public concern for social justice and a desire to heal the causes of violence help Democrat Joe Biden?

Franklin and Marshall University professor G. Terry Madonna told us "it's too early to make a judgment about the effects of the violence on Trump."

Madonna, considered the top pollster in Pennsylvania, spoke for many observers with his answer.

But other political analysts who spoke to Newsmax replied with diverse — and disparate — views.

"I'm inclined to think that, if Trump doesn't put his foot in it again with a tweet or two, it's more likely to be more like 1968," Bill Ballenger, editor of the much-read Ballenger Report on Michigan politics, told us, referring to the presidential election in which a strong campaign based on "law and order" was key to electing Richard Nixon.

But, Ballenger quickly added, "there may be still more developments that will vitiate that."

Wayne Thorburn, author of three much-praised books on conservatism and Texas politics, offered a slightly different view.

"1968 was a strange time in American history and I'm not confident that 2020 is similar," said Thorburn, a former executive director of the Texas Republican Party and a Reagan administration official.

"The problem for Trump is that he has no self-control and will continue to say things that turn off large numbers of people. The 'vicious dogs' remark, the 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts' remark, and the threat to take over and nationalize the National Guard — all these play well with those who are already supporting him, but not with the average Republican-leaning, suburban woman."

Thorburn said he doesn't see "any positive gain for Trump in the aftermath of this rioting and demonstrations. As always, he'll play to his base and in the process be unable to expand his support."

A very different view of Trump as a "base politician" was voiced by Steve Mitchell, dean of Michigan pollsters.

"Although Trump strongly encouraged governors to call in the National Guard to quell the riots, he has not taken the step of federalizing the Guard and sending them in under his command," Mitchell noted. "He is not doing that because he is trying to placate African Americans because he believes he can increase his voter share by three or four percent."

Trump, Mitchell said, "is forgetting about his base, and his base voters and 'law and order' independents would love to see him federalize the National Guard and send them in to prevent any further rioting, destruction, and burning. I think Trump is making a serious mistake by not doing that. He is ignoring definite voters for 'maybe' voters."

Another who made the analogy of the present situation to the late 1960s was Donald Critchlow, director of the program for Political History and Leadership at Arizona State University.

"Following racial riots, there was a voter backlash that helped carry Ronald Reagan to the governor's mansion of California in 1966 and helped win Richard Nixon election in 1968," said Critchlow. "Democrats failed to offer an alternative to cities in turmoil other than saying we needed to pour more money into the cities."

As to whether the U.S. will face a voter backlash with widespread rioting across the nation, Critchlow replied: "Expect a big voter backlash against the the Democrats in 2020. Democratic mayors and governors have shown themselves incapable of governing. Whatever sympathy they had at first for demonstrators has been lost as small business stores burned, large department stores looted, national monuments defaced."

Longtime Republican contributor Don Eberhart, however, feels "the Floyd disaster is a catastrophe's catastrophe for Trump.

Floyd's death and the resulting violence, he said, are "serving to highlight the divisive nature of [Trump's] politics at a time when he and his reelection campaign could really use some 'uniter in chief' and 'healer in chief' type headlines. I am afraid journalists and opinion writers are going to find other words to describe Trump right now."

Eberhart said the riots "reinforce that this is going to be a base election that is won or lost on turnout. Both sides will pay lip service to persuadable voters, but their minds are made up. It is about getting your supporters to the polls."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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As curfews are ordered by mayors in cities from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, scores of governors, county officials, and political analysts wonder how President Donald Trump will be affected by the nationwide protests after George Floyd's death.
riots, protests
Monday, 01 June 2020 01:53 PM
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