It may sound odd, but supporters of the Republican and Democratic candidates for President may hope that their party loses today’s presidential election.
To start with, Trump and Clinton are the two most unpopular candidates in recorded history; both hold negative net approval ratings. Whoever wins tonight will serve as an unpopular and therefore weakened President. This will make the victor vulnerable when they face re-election in 2020, especially if they face a strong candidate from the opposing party who can command the support of a coalition of voters that is broad enough to make a serious challenge for the presidency in four years time.
Then there is the question of what will happen to the economy. In recent decades, the United States has fallen into recession, on average, every 8-10 years. If this trend continues, then Americans will face another steep downturn under the next President. History has shown that a sluggish or depressed economy does not always doom a sitting President’s re-election bid, but it may spell trouble for an already unpopular President Clinton or Trump.
In this election year, twice as many Republican-held Senate seats are up for re-election, giving the Democrats more opportunities to regain control of the upper Congressional House, although recent estimates from FiveThirtyEight give both parties roughly even chance of winning a majority. If the Senate is controlled by a party that is different to the President’s, then this will ensure that there are at least two more years of divided government which could stymie and obstruct the new President’s agenda, whoever that individual is.
Losing the White House race may prove to be a blessing in disguise to the losing party as it will give them the opportunity to move on from Trump and Clinton and prepare for 2016 with, hopefully, a more popular, trusted and unifying figure as their nominee. This would probably not tempt many Trump or Clinton supporters who would not even contemplate handing the reins of power to the opposition candidate in the hope that their party will recover and win in 2020. Democrats will fear that Trump and Congressional Republicans will look to undermine or overturn the Obama legacy, just as Republicans will object to what they see as an extension the Obama presidency should Hillary become President. Supporters of both parties will be aware of what this election means for the Supreme Court. The age profile of the current Court is elderly, and the next Commander-in-Chief will likely have to nominate new nominees during the next 4-8 years. A change in the personnel on the Court bench could have far-reaching political implications.
I realise that this may not be a particularly compelling argument to many American voters, who will be desperate for their candidate to prevail. But looking ahead to what the next four years might have in store for the next occupant of the Oval Office, could it be a case of being careful about what you wish for? Trump and Clinton supporters: your side may lose this battle but end up winning the war.