President Trump’s reelection campaign issued a “memorandum on enthusiasm” Sunday outlining the very “real and wide” gap in enthusiasm between Mr. Trump’s campaign and that of Joe Biden.
Among his never-die supporters, Mr. Trump is at historic highs for a president seeking reelection while enthusiasm for Mr. Biden is near historic lows.
And this yawning gap is precisely how Mr. Trump could lose this year’s election.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of the republic rests on Mr. Trump’s ability to clear away all distractions so that he can devote every waking moment between now and Nov. 3 to getting himself reelected. How does such enthusiasm superiority among Trump supporters hurt Mr. Trump’s reelection campaign, you ask?
Several ways. The first and most obvious way is that it breeds complacency among Trump voters.
The case for Mr. Trump’s reelection is clearly obvious to his supporters. Mr. Trump has a concrete record of economic successes during his first three years in office that would easily get any president reelected. His America-first agenda has a mass appeal that professional politicians in both parties fail to grasp.
All this, despite literally billions of dollars in negative press coverage and outright lies from every corner of the Washington establishment.
Mr. Trump’s greatest failures during his first three years have been in areas such as building more of his wall along the border with Mexico. But, I would argue, his disaffected supporters upset over this understand what he has been up against and will vote for his reelection knowing his is far and away the best alternative.
Mr. Trump’s fourth year in office has been an unusual one, to say the least. But even that gives his supporters unwarranted reason to be complacent. They see a president in a time of national threat trying to unify the country while his enemies in Washington and in Congress only work to weaponize every tragedy for their own personal political advantage. With dishonest, evil vermin like this against him, how could Mr. Trump NOT win?
To be clear, any such complacency among Trump supporters is badly misplaced. The only difference between 2016 and 2020 is that this time, Democrats, the political media and the so-called “Deep State” now know that Donald Trump can win. This time, there is nothing they will not do to destroy him.
Secondly, the profound lack of enthusiasm among Democratic voters for Mr. Biden this year has a huge silver lining for the former vice president — especially compared with 2016.
The broad apathy toward Mr. Biden means many Democratic voters don’t exactly love the guy. But that very same apathy also means they don’t hate him, either.
One of the reasons Mr. Trump was victorious in 2016 is that so many voters — and not just Republican voters — passionately disliked Hillary Clinton. For 25 years, Mrs. Clinton had been the lying spear point of so many nasty political fights in Washington that she had earned great enmity from regular voters in both parties.
For all of Mr. Biden’s flaws, he is not the lightning rod that Mrs. Clinton was. It may be hard to take the guy serious, but it is also hard to hate him.
There is a final — and perhaps most powerful reason — why Mr. Trump’s “enthusiasm” advantage could actually hurt him in November.
Something decides every election. oftentimes, it’s the economy, Stupid. Other times it is security. It can even be personality that determines the outcome of an election.
The 2020 election is shaping up to be the “Make it stop!” election. Ardent Trump supporters love Mr. Trump and will walk through fire over broken glass to vote for him. Rabid anti-Trumpers despise the president and will loot and riot though tear gas to vote against him.
This election will be determined by an altogether different group of voters. These voters don’t particularly like Mr. Trump, but they also aren’t crazy haters. Many of them voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 and are open to doing so again.
Today, they see rioters in the streets, smashing store fronts, torching police cars and toppling statues. They are appalled, and they just want it to stop.
Mr. Trump claims to be the “law and order” guy, but the mayhem continues under his administration. Mr. Biden is desperate to curry favor with the peaceful protesters so he cowardly declines to forcefully condemn the lawlessness and rioters.
The average voter is watching it all and just wants it all to stop. If a vote for Mr. Biden would make it stop, that’s what he will do. Same with Mr. Trump.
Here is where the enthusiasm among Trump supporters undermines Mr. Trump’s effort to get reelected. While you cannot find a single rioter cheering on Mr. Biden’s candidacy (because nobody cares about it), there are plenty of counter-protesters out there who do care passionately about Mr. Trump and they are proud to show that support.
This is how Mr. Trump winds up retweeting an insanely stupid video of some old guy in a golf cart shouting “white power” in response to a bunch of noisy, obnoxious protesters.
It doesn’t matter what the old geezer meant or what the protesters had said to spark the confrontation. All that really matters in terms of winning this election in November — and saving the republic — is that those persuadable voters in the middle who just want it all to stop saw Mr. Trump escalating the caustic mayhem by applauding one of his supporters for saying something stupid.
Mr. Trump is widely beloved by many — myself included — because he does not talk or act like a career politician from Washington. But that doesn’t mean losing the next election.
• Charles Hurt is opinion editor of The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @charleshurt on Twitter.