Today Simone Gao speaks with Tom Del Beccaro, author of The Divided Era. They discuss President Trump’s improved standing with millennials and Joe Biden’s chances of being nominated for the Democratic Party in 2020.
Why Are Millennials Warming Up to Trump?
The latest Zogby poll shows a majority of millennials now approve of President Donald Trump’s job performance. Can you tell me the numbers and the reasons behind it?
Tom Del Beccaro: Well, historically, growing economies tend to unify our country; and stagnant economies tend to divide a country. So when you saw under President Obama where we had the weakest growth in American history for eight years, on average 1.8 percent, you had a lot of dissatisfaction. You had groups politically fighting each other and not economically working together. So one of the reasons why I supported the tax reform so very much is because I knew it would unleash the economy. And I knew that, from a historical perspective, a growing economy tends to unify our country as people are able to realize their dreams. Now, this kind of thing doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a while. But what we see in this latest Zogby poll and in the CBS poll today is that more and more Americans are feeling good about the economy and more and more Americans are giving credit to President Trump. That’s why now a majority of millennials support the job approval of President Trump. This is important because that’s a key demographic going forward.
You said that Trump’s improved standing among millennials could have a long-term impact. Why?
Tom Del Beccaro: Well, we know that the first political affiliation of someone, literally the first party they register with, they tend to stay with that for life. The first time I voted was for Ronald Reagan. There was a huge bump up in Republican registration under those 35 and younger, and basically they have stayed that way. Now, if we look at today’s millennials, we need to remember that president Trump only got 36 percent of that vote against Hillary Clinton. She got 55 percent. If Trump were somehow able to split the vote, the millennial vote in the upcoming election, that could matter one or two points in particular states and could be the difference.
I wonder if the millennials are only approving President Trump’s performance with the economy, if they still don’t like many other aspects of the president, how would that play out in 2020?
Tom Del Beccaro: Well, it is true that President Trump still remains not the friendliest person in the view of a lot of people, but keep this in mind: The millennials just went through eight years, and we used to have all these stories of them living in their parents’ basement. You don’t have those stories anymore. Now they’re out and about getting apartments with jobs and millennials would, in this circumstance, I think rely heavily on the economy, at least those moving towards President Trump. We also need to remember that on socialism, the millennials are fairly divided. In fact, the strongest pro-life demographic today, you can make the argument, are those 29 and younger. So since Trump has come out in that regard, it’s very possible that he can get a much larger split. I would think in the upcoming election, especially if Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden are running, that Trump, instead of getting 36 percent in the millennial vote, could get much closer to 45 percent. That would be very significant.
Did you just say that millennials have become the strongest pro-life supporters?
Tom Del Beccaro: Yeah. If you look at the recent polling, you find that a majority of Americans support the heartbeat bill, which is no abortions after a heartbeat. The strongest support for that isn’t among seniors, it’s actually among millennials, who support it 57 percent.
So overall, you think the financial support for President Trump could be long term instead of a one-time thing stimulated by good economic numbers?
Tom Del Beccaro: Well, yes. I think it’s very possible. Now, look, if the economy goes south or there’s other problems like a war, it could reduce the millennials’ support. However, if things stay the way they are and the economy is actually gathering strength, contrary to all of the opinions of some of the economists, back east and all the naysayers, the economy’s actually continuing to exhibit very good growth, strong numbers. I believe that throughout this election, the Republicans and Trump will be able to rely on those strong numbers. Therefore, that three-year period is where millennials can get a stronger view, a deeper held view of the Republicans and Donald Trump. And that could last a long time.
Joe Biden’s Chances for 2020
President Trump was criticized for saying Joe Biden’s son needs to be investigated for his business dealings in China. Do you think the president has a point?
Tom Del Beccaro: Well, we just went through a two-year period where the Democrats went all in on a claim that people related to the Trump campaign where somehow colluding with Russia or had some special relationship. But we know for a fact that Joe Biden’s son, while he was vice president, was in China and struck an amazing deal with essentially the Chinese military. There’s no getting around that, and that is inappropriate. Biden shouldn’t be, as vice president, making deals for his son and John Kerry’s son. And of course this happened in the Ukraine as well. So yes, I think there needs to be further light shed on that. As the inspector general report comes out demonstrating the abuse of power on the Democrat side, Joe Biden’s going to be the only presidential candidate among the Democrats with any ties to the Obama administration. He’s going to have to answer for all of that. What happened in Ukraine and what happened in China will be added onto that. And I think a majority of independents will look at Joe Biden and say, what were you doing this period of time? What did you know? When did you know it, and why is it you were trading on your office to help your son in China and the Ukraine?
Do you think his son’s business dealings in China would jeopardize his chances of being nominated?
Tom Del Beccaro: Well, I don’t believe Joe Biden is going to last as the front runner. I think that he will fade. He’s proven over time that he’s not a good campaigner there. They’re not putting him out there very much. He has a very light schedule. New polling in Iowa shows that he’s only tied with Sanders. He’s trailing him in New Hampshire. And I think the debates and the inspector general’s report and the scandals will harm him. I think his gaps, we’ll harm him. He will fade and I don’t expect him to be the nominee. And I do think things like the China deal will make people wonder what he’s been doing and why, and that’s why he won’t. All those things are why he won’t win the nomination.
So you don’t think Biden is going to be nominated? Who do you think will be nominated then?
Tom Del Beccaro: Well, we need to remember, in American politics, running for the presidential nomination of your party isn’t about national polls. It’s about state by state primaries. And while Joe Biden may well have good national polls, what matters is the turnout on the ground. How many supporters do you have in individual states who are willing to work for you. Because Joe Biden’s keeping a light schedule, he’s not going to be building a strong infrastructure that for instance, Bernie Sanders already has in Iowa. Bernie Sanders has 24,000 volunteers. Many of them helped him four years ago. That’s why he’s tied in Iowa–he being Bernie Sanders–despite these national polls. So if Bernie Sanders wins Iowa and wins New Hampshire, Joe Biden, if he’s in the race at that point, will look very suspect. They’ll wonder whether he can withstand an entire national campaign. On the other hand, Bernie Sanders will pick up a lot of steam with those victories, and that’s why I think he will be the nominee in a crowded field of democrats.