It is all hypothetical, but the numbers and personal dynamics of the two candidates suggest that President Obama would have beaten Donald Trump to win a third term in office.
During an appearance on his former senior advisor David Axelrod’s podcast, President Obama said, “Two points I would make though, David, because obviously in the wake of the election and Trump winning, a lot of people have — have suggested that somehow, it really was a fantasy. What I would argue is, is that the culture actually did shift, that the majority does buy into the notion of a one America that is tolerant and diverse and open and — and full of energy and dynamism. And — and the problem is, it doesn’t always manifest itself in politics, right? You know, I am confident in this vision because I’m confident that if I — if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could’ve mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it. I know that in conversations that I’ve had with people around the country, even some people who disagreed with me, they would say the vision, the direction that you point towards is the right one.”
Trump tweeted that he would have beaten Obama:
President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that but I say NO WAY! – jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etc.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2016
The numbers suggest that President Obama would have beaten Donald Trump. Obama’s current approval rating is 56%. His lowest approval in 2016 is 47%. Obama’s approval ratings are in line with Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, who are two successful two terms presidents who probably could have won a third term. Obama has not had an approval rating as poor as Trump’s (40%) in over two years. Trump is about to enter office as the least popular president-elect in history. Trump only won the election by a little more than 100,000 votes in three swing states. It is not hard to see Obama carrying Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania for the third time.
With the economy booming, and Trump probably being forced to go birther, the president probably would have won a third term.
Donald Trump is the weakest president-elect in modern US history. Obama has been on an upward swing for two years. If one believes in momentum, Obama would have done to Trump what he did to Mitt Romney in 2012. Unlike Hillary Clinton, Obama’s popularity was growing during the election. There is no doubt that the Obama coalition would have shown up in full force to support their president once again.
Trump is dreaming if he thinks that he could have beaten Obama by using the same attacks that other members of his party already failed with.
Obama would have had the power of incumbency, a growing economy, and rising favorability numbers against Trump. Those types of presidents don’t lose reelection bids.
President Obama is correct. He would have won, and his status as the most politician in America makes him an immediate threat to Trump once the new president-elect takes office in January.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association