Trump launches $100m campaign for second term

Trump card: The president has already spent around $8.3m on Google and Facebook adverts.

Was his first victory a one-off or can Donald Trump win again? Tonight, in Florida, he will launch the biggest election machine in American history backed by the biggest ever pot of cash.

It has now been four years since Donald Trump descended a golden escalator in New York City’s Trump Tower and announced that he was running for president. In 2015, his speech caused instant outrage when he called for a border wall with Mexico, and referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists”.

Tonight in Florida — home to 13.4 million voters, Walt Disney World and President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort — he will officially launch his campaign for a second term as US president.

Will this campaign be any different? Donald Trump’s character certainly hasn’t changed. He is still prone to insulting his enemies and ignoring the scripts provided by his advisers. He still lies frequently, recently uttering his 10,000th untrue statement since entering the White House (according to the fact checkers at The Washington Post).

And he still prefers to use large rallies to get his message across. Tonight’s campaign event will be the 550th since that first announcement in Trump Tower. In many ways, he never stopped campaigning: he registered his 2020 bid on the day of his inauguration. This was unusually early even for America’s long campaign seasons.

So, what has changed this time around? Trump’s early advisers like to refer to his 2016 campaign as building a plane while it is already in flight. It was fast-paced, scrappy, and they were making things up as they went along.

He is now the incumbent president, with a united Republican Party behind him, and $40 million of campaign money in the bank. He is already spending five times more on Facebook and Google adverts than any of the 23 people who are running to be the Democratic nominee.

But his presidency could hurt him too. It will be harder to paint himself as an outsider, as he did in 2016.

And despite a strong economy, Trump’s approval ratings have rarely risen above 50%. Yesterday, it emerged that his campaign had fired several pollsters after leaked numbers showed Trump trailing behind the Democrat Joe Biden in key states.

Take two?

So, can lightning strike twice? Trump lost the popular vote the first time around; in the end, his presidency came down to just 77,000 votes spread across three states. Surely, someone who is so thoroughly unfit for the job will not be able to pull the same trick a second time?

Don’t be so sure. Trump’s presidency was not a fluke. It was an expression of the genuine anger and discontent felt by millions of Americans. Their problems — from economic woes to an opioid epidemic — have not just gone away. Trump’s biggest supporters have not abandoned him yet. Why should we think that they will do so in the next 17 months?

You Decide

  1. Will Donald Trump win the US election next year?
  2. Has he been a good president so far?

Activities

  1. Imagine you are running against Donald Trump in the 2020 US election. Create a poster or video for your campaign. (Before you start, consider whether it is better to attack your opponent or promote your own ideas.)
  2. Find out more about one of the people running against Trump. Write an article about them and their chances of winning, in the style of The Day.

Some People Say...

“Our Country is doing great, far beyond what the haters & losers thought possible — and it will only get better!”

Donald Trump, Twitter, 17 June 2019

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Incumbent presidents are usually at an advantage — only six have lost a re-election campaign since 1900. Currently, however, polls show that Trump would be defeated by most of the prominent Democratic candidates.
What do we not know?
How far to trust the polls at this stage in the race. Remember, there is still a year-and-a-half to go before election day. Countless things could change in that time, which might reshape the race or change voters’ minds. This makes it impossible to predict who voters will choose in the end. Much will ride on the choice of Democratic nominee.

Word Watch

Border wall
Trump has not built the wall that he promised in his first campaign election. Congress, which is now run by the Democrats, has refused to fund it. Instead, Trump has begun to replace existing barriers at the border. By the end of 2018, around 40 miles had been started or completed.
13.4 million voters
This includes 4.7 million Republicans, 4.9 million Democrats, and 3.6 million who are not registered with any particular party. That makes Florida a “swing state” (it could vote either way in an election).
Inauguration
The day he was officially sworn in as president (20, January 2017).
Incumbent
The current holder of a position.
23 people
Currently leading the pack is 76-year-old Joe Biden, President Obama’s vice president. However, it is very early to be predicting the winner of the Democratic primaries, especially with so many candidates running.
Strong economy
The US economy grew by 3.2% in the first three months of 2019, an unexpectedly strong result.
50%
According to Gallup, Trump’s approval rating has never broken 50%. Past presidents have sometimes reached 90%.

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