The Current

With U.S. election 1 year away, Republicans and Democrats weigh up Trump's chances of 4 more years

Pollster Celinda Lake says U.S. Democrats would unite behind Dennis the Menace "if he could beat Donald Trump" when Americans go to the polls in 2020. But former Republican strategist Rick Wilson says they still have a hard campaign ahead of them to win back the White House.

Democrats would unite behind Dennis the Menace 'if he could beat Donald Trump': pollster

Voters cast their ballots in the March primaries in Virginia in 2016. Americans will go to the polls for their next presidential election on Nov. 3, 2020. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

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The field of U.S. presidential hopefuls may be crowded at the moment, but "any Democrat is going to offer a vivid contrast to Donald Trump," says one Democratic pollster.

"I believe that every single one of our nominees has broader [and] bolder policies than we had in 2016," said Celinda Lake, president of political strategy research firm Lake Research Partners.

Lake is working on Joe Biden's bid, but told The Current's interim host Laura Lynch that she thinks "all of us would be united wholeheartedly behind Dennis the Menace, if he could beat Donald Trump."

"The most important thing we have to focus on is one: who can be Donald Trump; and two: who can start, day one, to clean up the mess and chaos that Donald Trump has started."

Americans will go to the polls on Nov. 3, 2020, or one year as of this past Sunday. After former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke dropped out on Friday, there are now 12 candidates running for the Democratic nomination.

The successful candidate will be announced at the Democratic National Convention in July, and go on to challenge Trump for the presidency.

U.S. Democratic candidates battle as uncertain voters look on

4 years ago
Duration 2:06
The political heat is intense in Miami as Democratic candidates face-off to see who will challenge U.S. President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. As members of the crowded field debate, those watching struggle to agree on the best strategy to take on the incumbent.

Lake said that the Democrats "have to walk and chew gum at the same time" to overcome the Republicans in 2020.

"We have to get that blue-collar voter in Pittsburgh, and we have to get that congressional candidate in Wisconsin," she said. 

"And I think it's very, very important that we nominate someone who can also appeal particularly to white, independent, non-college-educated women, who are the key swing vote in 2020."

Election could depend on 'Democrats' incompetence'

Former Republican strategist Rick Wilson thinks the Democrats do have an opportunity to oust Trump, but the party will need to run "a campaign worthy of the opportunity they've been given."

"There are ways that Donald Trump can win again, but it involves the Democrats doing what they do, which is to run a campaign that is tone-deaf to the 15 or so swing states that will decide the election," said Wilson, a columnist with the Daily Beast, and author of Everything Trump Touches Dies.

"That's not a referendum on Donald Trump's performance; it's a referendum on the Democrats' incompetence," he told Lynch.

During Trump's three years in the Oval Office, he has faced sexual assault allegations, criticism for cutting ties with U.S. allies, and now an impeachment inquiry into whether he tried to use his position to undermine a political rival. 

Political activist Amy Kremer dismissed the controversies as "all accusations."

"We believe, in America, [you are] innocent until proven guilty," said Kremer, co-founder and chair of the Women for Trump Political Action Committee.

The U.S. economy added 128,000 jobs in October. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

She said voters were more interested in the economy, pointing to the strong number of jobs added in October.

"[Trump] is focused on making America great, putting America first," she said.

"That's what all Americans care about. And because of that, I think that he will win in 2020."

I'm a black gay Republican, okay? This party may not have been so welcoming to me about even five years ago.- Rob Smith, Republican strategist

Republican strategist Rob Smith said Trump has succeeded in bringing new people and new energy to the GOP.

"I see a lot of energy, I see a group of people that is younger, that is sort of more active in what's going on," said Smith, who works for Turning Point USA, a non-profit group that promotes conservatism among students.

"I'm a black gay Republican, okay? This party may not have been so welcoming to me about even five years ago," he said.

"The party is changing. And that is a good thing."

Wilson disagreed, arguing that the Trump movement is "fundamentally un-conservative" and doesn't resemble the Republican party he supported for years.

"The Trump movement is authoritarian, it is nationalistic, it is statist," he said.

He added that the movement is involved in "spending more money and running up more debt, and doing things that are against the constitution, and the rule of law, and the original vision of how executive and legislative power were balanced, than anyone could have imagined." 

Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Howard Goldenthal, Karin Marley and Ben Jamieson.