Will Trump run again? Can he beat Biden?
All signs point to yes on the first question. The Washington Post reported he wanted to announce his candidacy after the Afghanistan withdrawal. The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump is considering announcing a run sometime next year, hoping it will help Republicans win back the House in the midterm elections.
A Republican might say: Well, establishment Republicans won’t say this publicly, but they’re unsure whether a Trump run would help them or hurt them. On one hand, Republicans lost the House, the Senate and the White House in the Trump era. And he already lost to Biden. On the other hand, Trump has shown a remarkable ability to excite Republicans. In 2016, he won Wisconsin, the first time for a Republican in 32 years. In 2020, he got the second-most votes ever for president. “I believe that there’s magic there,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said of Trump.
A Democrat might say: Bring it on. Many donors are “praying that Trump runs,” Democratic donor Barry Goodman told The Post recently. Trump has lots of legal liabilities, and his involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection could make him even more unpopular.
But: Everyone’s predictions of what will happen in a potential rematch are just guesses. Trump broke most of the conventional rules we thought we knew about politics, and even the most seasoned political veterans are still trying to make sense of things.
The debate over vaccine mandates
If you’re a liberal, you’re more likely to be vaccinated against coronavirus and support vaccine requirements than a conservative. Public health experts say — and requirements in corporate America increasingly show — that more stringent vaccination regulations get more people vaccinated. The White House announced today that more than 9 in 10 federal workers are vaccinated after Biden required it. Now the administration is fighting in court to keep intact its requirement that large businesses have employees either vaccinated or agree to weekly testing.
A liberal might say: Vaccine requirements are nothing new. Many conservative states have stringent requirements for a number of vaccines like measles. Plus, the vaccines clearly protect people from serious covid-19 illness. President Biden is fighting for his testing-or-vaccine requirement in the courts.
A conservative might say: Yes, states can mandate vaccines, but that’s not the federal government’s job. If Biden really thinks his vaccine-or-testing mandate is so crucial, he should have issued it months earlier, while the delta variant was surging. Plus, is this necessary? Vaccination rates are way up; nearly 60 percent of all Americans have been fully vaccinated.
Why are Democrats struggling politically right now?
Biden is hitting the lowest approval ratings of his presidency in poll after poll, in the low 40 percent range. Democrats in Congress fear that translates to losing their majorities in next November’s midterm elections. History suggests they’re right to worry. Meanwhile, Biden is faced with questions of whether he’ll run for reelection. And if he doesn’t, his likely successor, Vice President Harris, is facing questions of her own from Democrats about how she’s handling the job.
A Republican might say: A lot is going wrong under Biden’s tenure so far, starting with this summer’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal. (Republicans I talked to privately thought Biden would be better at ending the war than Trump and were aghast at how inept the administration seemed.) From there, the delta wave of the pandemic took off, inflation is causing prices across the board to rise, a number of Americans are unhappy with their jobs, and no one knows what will be in stock this holiday season.
A Democrat might say: Some of the issues dinging Biden — like inflation — are out of the administration’s hands beyond chipping away at the margins. But these problems will probably get better over time. Congress’s ideas for expanding the federal safety net to include things like universal prekindergarten and lowering prescription drug costs are popular; they just need to show Americans they’re helping improve their lives.
But: It’s a fair question to ask if Democrats are pursuing policies that may be popular but don’t address Americans’ immediate problems. In a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, a majority of Americans think both parties are out of touch with their concerns, but more think the Democrats are.