Election Day 2020 may still be a long way off -- 632 days to be exact -- but Donald Trump's re-election prospects are looking more challenging by the day. And I don't just mean because Trump has the highest disapproval rating (55.1%) of any modern-day president at this point in his presidency -- except for Ronald Reagan (55.5%) (Keep in mind Reagan was in the middle of a recession at the time in 1982.)
The potentially devastating challenge for Trump is the increasing number of strong women entering the Democratic field in 2020 to unseat him. While Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016, this new group of women -- one of whom could ultimately win the nomination -- pose a significant threat to his re-election prospects, in part by drawing female voters to their side.
Trump, who is prone to attack any person he views as a threat, will likely only hurt his own cause. With every negative tweet against them, he will remind Americans of his horrible record on gender issues -- including his seemingly blind defense of Alabama Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who were both accused of sexual assault (though they denied any wrongdoing). And who can forget his public mocking of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who testified under oath that Kavanaugh had assaulted her?
We have already seen the impact of Trump's conduct on female voters in the 2018 election, when Democrats attracted 59% of the female vote -- causing a record gender gap for a midterm election. And unless Trump and the GOP make drastic changes in the near future, 2020 could be even worse.
But it's not just about what Trump has said or done. It's also about what these female candidates are saying and doing.
On Saturday, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren formally became a candidate for president. She wasted no time criticizing Trump, telling the cheering crowd, "We all know the Trump administration is the most corrupt in living memory." In response, Trump played on racist Native American stereotypes to attack her on Twitter, writing: "Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for President. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!"
(Trump's apparent reference to the horrors of the "Trail of Tears," where countless Native Americans died during forced relocation by the federal government in 1800s, sparked immediate outrage.)
Then there's California Sen. Kamala Harris who announced her candidacy in January. This former prosecutor is inherently a great contrast to Trump who is engulfed in various investigations and has been implicated in federal election crimes by his former lawyer Michael Cohen (though Trump denies any wrongdoing). Harris has slammed Trump in the past, calling the wall he wants built on the southern border nothing more than a "vanity project." And, during her presidential announcement, she was clearly speaking of Trump when she declared, "we have leaders who lie and bully and attack a free press and undermine our democratic institutions. That's not our America."
There's also New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who announced a few weeks ago that she was forming a presidential exploratory committee. She clashed with Trump in 2017 over his mistreatment of women, demanding that Congress "investigate the multiple sexual harassment and assault allegations against" Trump. And when Trump responded by calling her a "lightweight" and claiming she came to his office "begging for campaign contributions," Gillibrand responded on Twitter with a slam of her own, "You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office."
And, on Sunday, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar joined the 2020 contest. While people of her state are known for being "Minnesota Nice," Klobuchar, also a former prosecutor, has not been bashful in attacking Trump. Take her recent tweet calling out Trump's attacks on his own intelligence agency heads: "They deserve respect, not attacks."
Trump is now confronted with a gang of women who are all gunning for him. And if he responds in usual Trump fashion, with his no-holds-barred attacks, he could drive away more female voters than he did in the 2018 midterms. That could potentially not only be devastating for Trump, but for many Republicans on the 2020 ballot.
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