Early Forecast (May 2014): The Republican Presidential Candidate Will Win in 2016


It is, of course, absurd to claim solid knowledge about what will happen in a presidential election nearly 2.5 years away. But just for the sake of discussion, my early prediction is that the Republican presidential candidate, whoever s/he may be, will win the election in November 2016.

It is also unlikely that such a victory would normally be attributed to foreign as distinct from domestic policy issues. In this case, however, that’s my follow-on bet: that the Republican will win because the Democrat will be tainted by Obama’s handling of key international issues.

The core issue, I believe, will be a too-rapid decline in U.S. power and influence abroad. Ever since his lame response to the financial crisis, when heads should have rolled at the top banks, it has been clear that President Obama does not understand power. Instead of building strength through a chain of successes that demonstrate muscle, he has taken an overly analytic approach, treating each challenge in isolation.

Circumstances have not helped him in the foreign policy arena. Thanks to the Bush Administration’s adventures, the U.S. is in fact tired of foreign wars. But that’s the starting point. You still can, and must, try to make the best of the situation.

The specific concern prompting this post is that Obama is sending signals of weakness if not outright spinelessness to both China and Russia, at a time when both are moving more aggressively than they have done for many years. Both appear increasingly inclined to accept Obama’s virtual invitation to find out how far he will let them go — and I think he will let them go very far.

So I think there will be one or more signal events, indicating an end to the post-USSR era in which the U.S. was the sole superpower. China will invade Taiwan or, in a less extreme and more likely scenario, China will provoke a shooting war of sorts with Japan. Russia will continue in Ukraine, and will not stop there.

One way or another, my prediction says, American voters will awaken to a world in which the U.S. looks increasingly like just one more nation among many, and that will be uncomfortable enough to make a decisive difference in the 2016 election.


9 Responses to “Early Forecast (May 2014): The Republican Presidential Candidate Will Win in 2016”

  1. This prediction is certainly keeping me interested in the upcoming election. An article in The Atlantic says this:

    “Clinton has also tethered herself to a decades-old, bipartisan consensus on the rough outlines of U.S. foreign policy, which Trump has been challenging more vigorously than any major presidential candidate has in six decades. . . .

    “Over the last 70 years, presidential candidates have largely acted like interior designers within the existing structure of American foreign policy. Not Trump. And while it’s not clear that most Americans agree with his views, what is clear is that his candidacy comes at a time when the public is deeply conflicted about America’s outsized role in the world.”

  2. With less than three months to go until the election, my prediction is looking weak. NBC says Hillary Clinton is holding a large lead over Trump in the polls, and Gallup says the public is registering sharply higher approval of Obama’s handling of foreign affairs. But it’s been a crazy race. My prediction is down but not out!

  3. I just thought of a wrinkle that could make a great conspiracy-theory novel. It goes like this. The plan of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” is to put someone like Pence (Trump’s running mate) in power. To achieve that, the power brokers all back Hillary, giving them plausible deniability: they could not have been involved. Trump, meanwhile, will be aided by some dire disclosure in October, a month or less before the election; suddenly Hillary will be such an embarrassment as to be unelectable. Then President Trump is assassinated.

    I just wish I had time and know-how to write it up and get it published. I could be the next Tom Clancy — who, I was amazed to discover, had actually done a fair job of predicting the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

  4. My post in early September 2016 speculates that Trump’s numbers will rise noticeably after the first debate, scheduled for Sept. 26.

  5. Just by way of update, this week was not good to Clinton: (1) She failed to disclose health issues, nearly fainted, and made her health a significant issue by seeming to conceal problems; and (2) she described half of Donald Trump’s supporters — a substantial portion of America — as “deplorables.” One source says, “The trend toward Trump has been clear for a few weeks now.”

  6. Well, voting day is four weeks away, and at this point even the Republican leadership is abandoning Trump in droves. It is increasingly difficult to imagine how he could win. Absent some extraordinary change in the situation, my early speculation will fail. Moreover, foreign policy could still become a key issue, but presently it isn’t. This is all fine with me. I don’t have any interest in seeing Trump become president. It was fun to speculate anyway.

  7. Never say die. For what it’s worth, a New York Times article contends that foreign policy is, in fact, a central part of Trump’s appeal:

    “Voters who hold conservative values are drawn to such policies not out of a sudden interest in global affairs, but as a way to express their fear of change and desire for order at home, the researchers found. They desire a strong leader who will protect ‘us’ against an ever-more-menacing ‘them.’ Mr. Trump, by redirecting voters’ anxiety about demographic, cultural and economic changes toward foreign policy, gives his supporters a clearer set of villains — and a promise to do whatever it will take to defeat them.”

    [On March 15, 2017, The Atlantic concurred:

    “Chris Murphy sensed well before most people that the 2016 election would largely revolve around U.S. foreign policy. Not foreign policy in the narrow, traditional sense—as in, which candidate had the better plan to deal with Russia or defeat ISIS. Rather, foreign policy in its most primal sense—as in, how America should interact with the world beyond its borders and how Americans should conceive of nationhood in an age of globalization.”]

  8. Just incredible. Trump has won. Not primarily due to foreign policy, but still. Against the accumulated wisdom of the polls and everyone’s common-sense impression that the man could not be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. Another post offers an interpretation.

    • Let me amend that last comment to observe that, while I was thinking of “foreign policy” in the usual sense of the term, I did also mention “international issues.” I don’t ordinarily include immigration in foreign policy, but clearly it is an issue of America vs. its friends, enemies, and (sometimes) neighbors.

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