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Trump Would Likely Win if Election Were Held Now: Ian Bremmer

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If the presidential election were held right now, President Donald Trump would have about a 60% chance of being reelected, based on polling of voters in swing states, according to political scientist Ian Bremmer, president and founder of Eurasia Group.

That’s despite the fact that cable TV news channels keep showing that Trump is losing against all the Democratic candidates in national polls, he told TD Ameritrade’s National LINC 2020 conference in Orlando, Florida, on Friday during a keynote.

And that’s despite the fact that “I actually do feel that Trump is going to lose the popular vote in November,” Bremmer said.

That’s because “it doesn’t matter — it doesn’t mean anything” what the national polls show, he said, adding: “That’s not how we elect people” for U.S. president. It’s the Electoral College that elects people. Just ask Hillary Clinton and Al Gore.

“They should stop that,” he said of the news organizations that dwell on national polling. “They are not educating the American public.”

Noting that Eurasia Group does proprietary polling of 12 swing states “because that’s what clients want to know,” he said: “Right now, Trump is winning in those swing states against moderate candidates — not by much. It’s close. But he’s winning. Right now, if the election were today, you’d say 60/40 Trump’s the next president.”

That’s largely because, although his popularity is low, “the economy is doing well and impeachment has, on balance, helped, not hurt him,” according to Bremmer.

“I have no idea who is going to get the Democratic nomination,” although Joe Biden is still the frontrunner, he said.

It’s possible we’ll see a brokered convention, which is the only possible way Mike Bloomberg could win the nomination, he said. However, he added: “I would not bet on it. Maybe 10% likelihood. But 10% likelihood and he’s spending a couple of hundred million dollars and he’s worth $60 billion — that seems like a pretty good bet.” If it was Bremmer in that position, he joked, he might say to himself, “I’ll take a flyer on that — why not?” That drew laughs from the audience.

Bremmer’s “biggest concern” about the election isn’t who wins, but more that “the process has become delegitimized,” he said, adding “we are about to acquit Trump in this impeachment” after a trial where he’s been accused of abusing power to ensure he can win the election. The end result of the trial is that “impeachment will be broken as a constraint on the American president as we go into reelection,” which means if the election is as close as we think it will be, the result “will be seen as illegitimate” by many Americans, he said.

The likelihood is “very high” that the loser will contest the result, he said, adding there will be plenty of blame all around for factors viewed as allowing that to happen, including the Senate not doing enough to take steps to prevent external intervention in our election, Republicans removing people from the voter rolls “illegitimately” in states including Florida and Ohio, and “misuse of the attorney general’s office for investigations into the Democrats” if Trump wins and it’s close. If Trump loses, instead of conceding he will likely say there were millions of illegitimate votes cast, Bremmer said, adding he suspects “every legal means will be used to contest the outcome.”

Among the other topics he touched on were the relationship between the U.S. and China. On that front, although the countries recently signed a phase one deal, which is a good thing, he predicted, “there will not be a phase two deal — not before the election, not after the election.”

Although most experts don’t think there will be a recession this year, he said, there’s a commonly held view that “we’re entering a down cycle in economics” globally. One gloomy sign: The International Monetary Fund has “downgraded for the second quarter in a row their expectations for global growth,” he said.

During the Q&A, he said “there’s a lot of money to be made” in China for investors. Hotel chains are doing especially well, for one thing, he noted. But “I would not be traveling to China right now,” he said, referring to the coronavirus outbreak.

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