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In 2016, the media assured us that Donald J. Trump wasn’t going to be president. That he had no chance of getting close to the White House, and that Hillary Clinton was going to be an indomitable nominee.

Despite all her flaws, the media concluded that the Democratic flag-bearer would still win.

That didn’t happen. Trump’s improbable ascendancy to the presidency was also due to serious miscalculation in media analysis. Members of the press supported their claims with polls that showed Clinton way ahead of Trump.

Now as the drumbeat to 2020 increases, the media seem to be overselling the presidential election and casting it as one that heavily favors Democrats. They are running with polls that overwhelmingly suggest that Trump will not be reelected. 

I believe that the media is engaging in the same defective and out-of-touch analysis that previously portrayed Trump as a candidate that could never win the White House. The most recent poll suggesting 6 in 10 people believe Trump doesn’t deserve to be reelected has energized a lot of pundits who are making all sorts of declarations about the possibilities for Democrats next year.

Polls may be good for ratings because they make for excellent television banter, but they are not good for some people who might be tricked into believing that the election is already over while that is far from the truth. 

Democrats should not rely on the media to run their campaign, and polls are not the best yardstick to measure the outcome of any election. The best poll is on Election Day. The eventual Democratic nominee will have to win based on the merit of his or her candidacy.

At this point, the Democratic candidates fighting for their party’s nomination should be offering us a compelling vision for the nation and ignore the polls that are coming out more than a year before the election. 

Democrats may be in for another shock or perhaps even a heart attack if they think the most recent polls that are being released reflect the true sentiments of those who would be casting a vote in 2020. 

The case against Trump seeking a second term is undeniable. But Trump enjoys the power of incumbency, and as he demonstrated in 2016, he will seek to define the 2020 race for the presidency instead of Democrats. 

And the biggest flaw that Democrats have is messaging. Their inability to concoct a coherent and unified political message to wage an earth-shattering campaign against Republicans has often rendered them losses at the voting booths. 

Look at the current crop of Democratic candidates and the skirmishes that have already taken place among themselves. It’s hard to find a common theme that most of them agree on.

The current frontrunner Joe Biden seems to be running a Freudian slip campaign at every turn. Biden doesn’t seem to have the bite and guts to face Trump next year even as polls again are suggesting he is the one likely to unseat Trump.

So far, the only Democrat who has shown that she can return fire with fire is Elizabeth Warren. Armed with experience and the ability to deconstruct the most complex issues for the average person, she is the one who could prove politically lethal to the Republican case to return Trump to the White House.

Warren versus Trump in 2020 would be a remarkable rematch of 2016. The only difference is that Warren is not Hillary Clinton. She’s carved out an authentic message that resonates with people, and like Trump did in his first election, she fits the bill of the underdog.

But if Democrats rely on the media and polls as their answer for the election, they will be missing the opportunity to make the case as to why the nation should seek a new direction next year. It is not enough to express outrage about Trump’s policies. He’s doing exactly what he promised the first time he sought the presidency.

For Democrats, the question is: What will they do differently?

bankole@bankolethompson.com

Catch “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” which is broadcast at 11:00 a.m. weekdays on Superstation 910AM.

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