As of right now, most national head-to-head polls for the 2020 presidential general election show President Donald Trump losing to his Democratic Party presidential primary rivals. This trend generally holds, regardless of whether the nominee is any of the leading top three Democratic candidates: Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), or Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
While the Trump campaign might be tempted to rest on its laurels and sneer at the polls based upon a look back at the perceived polling debacle that was the 2016 presidential election, such a move would be just as haughty as it is myopic. As Harry Enten’s article from November 4, 2016 — that would be four days before the general election — presciently pointed out, in retrospect, polling from the 2016 election cycle was not actually irreconcilable with a Trump victory. Trump obviously trailed Hillary Clinton in the polls, but his victory was actually not outside the realm of polling feasibility — or even outside the realm of polling reasonableness.
As such, the 2020 Trump re-election campaign would be wise to focus on what it can do to win over a larger share of independent, moderate, and suburban voters. In doing so, the Trump campaign would be wise to look back to a much-ballyhooed part of Karl Rove’s 2004 blueprint for George W. Bush’s re-election: Specifically, that campaign’s ingenious focus on the “security mom.” The mythical “security mom,” at the time, was symbolized by the proverbial suburban mother who was worried about revanchist Islamist terrorism and sought to protect her home and family against those who would seek to kill us.
Although some of the specific animating issues have changed over the past 15 years, there is tremendous potential this election cycle for Trump to deploy similar messaging and reach out to a similar sect of voters.
Violent crime in America, despite overall dramatically declining since the 1990s, has unfortunately spiked over the past few years. Why isn’t Trump formally renouncing the harrowing First Step Act jailbreak law, the passage of which he apparently already regrets, and doubling down on “Willie Horton”-style anti-crime messaging?
Left-wing Democrats are campaigning harder than ever on anti-Second Amendment, gun-grabbing policy proposals. Why isn’t Trump leading Republicans on a 2020 platform of cracking down on the gun felons that light-on-crime jurisdictions like California seem hellbent on unleashing upon the general public?
The global jihad — as embodied both by the Muslim Brotherhood, the mother’s milk of Sunni jihad, as well as more public-facing Islamist outfits like al-Qaeda and Islamic State — continues, 18 years after 9/11, to pose a threat to the U.S. homeland. Why isn’t Trump running on a platform of discussing not just the wall and border security, but also the arguably even more indispensable issue of interior visa enforcement? What about the need to radically restructure our immigration policy away from letting in largely unvetted populations of Middle Easterners?
Across the nation, neo-Confederate “sanctuary” jurisdictions employ anti-Supremacy Clause erroneous legal “reasoning” to defy federal immigration law, ignore ICE detainers on violent criminal aliens, and aid and abet the work of the transnational Mexican cartels that traffick drugs and criminals alike into the homeland. Why isn’t Trump proposing more aggressive policies to strip federal funding away from sanctuary jurisdictions and effectively message to suburban voters that the government will act to help prevent MS-13 thugs from terrorizing their neighborhoods?
There are a myriad other examples, to be sure. But to maximize its 2020 re-election chances, the Trump campaign ought to focus more intensively on appealing to moderates and suburban swing voters. In order to do so, there is no better platform than a safety and security agenda tailored to the very “security moms” that President Bush so effectively courted in 2004.