Who’s going to win the 2020 presidential election? Political strategists Karl Rove, architect of George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign, and Jim Messina, campaign manager for former President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection, agreed Tuesday that who wins the White House hinges on the economy.
“The economy is always the No. 1 issue in presidential elections,” said Messina, a consultant who heads The Messina Group in San Francisco, on a Zoom cast held by the American Council for Capital Formation. “Right now, despite his really bad poll numbers, President Trump still leads Joe Biden by 5 points on who’s better on the economy, which is sort of his lifeline.”
The U.S., Messina added, is “now in a full recession. These swing voters now have an average of 2.5 jobs and are really feeling the brunt of this economy.”
Rove, who also served as senior advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000 to 2007 and deputy chief of staff from 2004 to 2007, agreed.
“Jim’s right; the economy is a referendum on the future, which is why Trump has got a possibility of turning this [election] because nobody blames him for the bad economy,” Rove said. “They blame the virus. So the question is going to be: who’s best able to bring us back to the economic prosperity that we were feeling in November, December, January and February?”
Trump “has an advantage on this [economy] that’s been pretty durable, … so he’s in the game because of that.”
As it stands now, Biden has “been unable to lay out an economic vision for the future, and unable to sort of say to the people, ‘this is what I would do as president and this is why I should be elected,’” Messina said.
To remedy this, the No. 1 move that Biden must take is “to have some proposals, and he needs to lay it out in a way that makes sense. He ought to be very specific about policy here, and he ought to talk about things that can unite the country,” Messina said.
With 140 days before the election, “the one thing we know about America is that America is now the most partisan country in the world,” Messina said on the Zoom cast, titled “Politics, the COVID Economy and the 2020 Election.”