While many presidents running for re-election have what’s called an incumbency advantage, helping them with fundraising and name recognition at the very least, Trump’s incumbency also comes with some problems for his re-election campaign. For one thing, the novelty of his candidacy has withered away from what it was in 2015 and 2016 – when people were sure that one gaffe after the other would finish him off while others were intrigued by the idea of a non-politician becoming president. Assuming he’d never survive primary season, the media was largely oblivious to the tricks he had up his sleeve, like rigging online polls to show him ahead.
Sure enough, the Trump re-election campaign is trying a similar trick – sending out an online poll intended to make Trump look better than he is – the natural step after firing his own pollsters who showed him behind in the key states he needed to win. You might think that the poll would ask about actual concerns of his voters and how the administration could best address them, but you’d be wrong. You’d even be wrong if you thought he would take this as an opportunity to ridicule Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders – since his campaign is calling this their Official Trump vs. Obama Poll – pitting Trump against a former president that he never actually ran against in the first place.
The ten question poll on Trump’s campaign website is full of questions that frame everything in Trump’s favor, while bringing out the racism and xenophobia of his base, asking questions like “Who do you believe prioritizes AMERICANS over dangerous illegal aliens?” and “Who do you believe will NEVER allow America to turn into a SOCIALIST Nation?” Even though Barack Obama hasn’t been president for almost three years, each question is worded as if he’s still occupying the office, while Donald Trump is tweeting away from Trump Tower.
It was preposterous enough that he lashed out at his 2016 opponent when he launched his re-election campaign. Now that he’s running an imaginary campaign against President Obama, we’re getting to see what his re-election is all about: simply stroking his own ego, something done best when he’s punching down the people that remind him of how insecure and inadequate he really is.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making