Four Possible Future Timelines

August 1st, 2020 | RR

Donald Trump will either be a one-term president, or he won't be. Polls and prognosticators are doing what they did in 2016, which has the same likelihood of backfiring. Weeks before the last election, polls showed Hillary Clinton beating Trump in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Prognosticators were giving Hillary 90% odds of beating Trump and becoming president. As we know now, everyone was wrong and none of it ever happened. However, the biggest mistake Trump supporters can do now is assume that everyone is wrong again. Trump's margins in key swing states were slim in 2016, which means he needs to work extra hard at driving his supporters to the polls this time.

These are a few scenarios that could play out this year. Each scenario would spawn a new timeline and change history in its own unique way. I'll start with the least devastating timelines and work my way down to the most depressing one of all.

Trump Wins A Landslide

It's the night of November 3 and election results are starting to roll in on CNN. The first traditionally red states to report, like Kentucky and Indiana, are showing no surprises. However, some CNN analysts notice a higher-than-normal turnout among Republican voters in these two states. Trump is coming in at 3% higher above Joe Biden than he did against Clinton in 2016. They point it out, but quickly brush it off as “expected”, or probably just a sign of normal Trump supporters expressing some extra zeal. It's nothing to worry about, Biden's campaign strategist says on air, during CNN's routine check-in with the campaigns.

“This a good sign,” says one of the CNN panel's only Trump supporters. John King cuts in to say, “It's obvious Trump supporters in Kentucky are eager to give him one final show of support. They want him to go out with a celebratory bang.”

As more states roll in, there are still few surprises. The blue states are going blue and red states are going red. Nothing looks out of the ordinary, except a slight uptick in Republican support in a few typically red states. North Carolina is tight, but leaning in Trump's favour.

“It's still really, really early to declare North Carolina,” says Anderson Cooper.

“That's right Anderson,” John King says. “Only 10% of polls are reporting, which gives Joe Biden plenty of time to catch up in North Carolina.”

About an hour later, results from Florida and Pennsylvania begin to trickle in. At first, Biden takes a narrow lead in Pennsylvania—a lot more narrow than what polls had predicted. Florida is tight, with only one percentage point putting Biden ahead of Trump.

“Still very early,” states John King.

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As the hour passes, nothing in most of the blue states looks unusual. Biden maintains a healthy lead on the East coast, but Maine is tight and Trump is nipping at Biden's heals. By the end of the hour, Trump takes a narrow lead in all of Maine—a state Hillary won in 2016.

As a new hour wears away and Texas, Wisconsin and most of the mid-West begin reporting, things start to change rapidly. Rural areas show high Republican turnout in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Faces at CNN start to show chagrin.

Florida has now leaned heavily in Trump's favour, putting him ahead of Biden by more than 5%. Wisconsin shows a narrow Trump lead. North Carolina has been officially called for Trump. Fox News declares that Trump will take all of Maine, just narrowly, with 98% of polls reporting in the state. Although it's early, Fox News declares that Pennsylvania will go to Trump with 80% of polls reporting in the state and Trump pulling ahead by 3%.

Trump leads Biden in Arizona with bigger margins than he had in 2016. The rural Republican vote there is historic, according to Fox News.

On the national board, Trump has pulled ahead of Joe Biden in the popular vote by more than 1%. Republicans have trimmed the Democrat lead in Congress and held the Senate.

Fox News calls Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada for Trump. It takes CNN a half an hour longer to do the same. By now, John King can hardly hide his disappointment as he is forced to acknowledge that turnout was higher than anyone expected amid the COVID-19 crisis and that Trump has taken states that Hillary had won in 2016.

“Joe Biden just couldn't pull this off. I mean, what went wrong?” Cooper asks the panel, sounding frazzled.

Reports of protesters crowding the streets in Chicago, New York, Portland and Seattle start to emerge. Images of a burning car in San Francisco start to pop up on Twitter. There are now reports of riots and looting in Los Angeles. CNN cuts away from the depressing election coverage to cover the rising turmoil in the streets.

“This is America now,” declares Van Jones, over images of burning cars and smashed storefronts. “We have become a racist country that values and rewards white supremacy. We need a revolution in this country. Democracy no longer works.”

“What's left of America now?” asks Rachel Maddow, sagging her head in tears at her MSNBC desk. “Democracy no longer serves the people of this country. What is left now, but revolution? We have to take this to the streets. We have no choice.”

Riots intensify through the night.

Despite Trump's lead in the popular vote and his massive lead in the electoral college, the Biden campaign refuses to concede and delays his speech until morning. Finally, at midnight, Trump emerges on stage at his campaign headquarters in Florida to declare victory. CNN cuts away after only a few minutes, putting the focus back on America's burning inner cities.

By morning, plumes of smoke hang over Chicago, Seattle, Baltimore and Los Angeles. Biden finally emerges and, surprisingly, concedes defeat to Trump and encourages Americans to calm down and come together. A few people in his small crowd boo him.

Riots continue for weeks, but subside by Christmas.

Leading up to Christmas, Trump spends most of his time tweeting and bragging about his win, calling it the “biggest win in history”. No one has ever won as big as he just did. Democrats and Mitt Romney should take note and begin to fall in line, he says. The silent majority has spoken, loud and clear.

The media spends its time analyzing what went wrong, wondering how so many Americans became so racist and about whether Russia had something to do with it—again. The Secret Service announces that it has to spend $15B more than usual on security at Trump's upcoming inauguration, MSNBC loses it and suggests they just shouldn't even bother providing security at all. “Let the billionaire hire his own security,” Rachel Maddow yells.

This charade carries on for months, Trump's inauguration goes off without a hitch and slowly, by Spring, things start to go back to normal. The media lays off its usual attacks against Trump, knowing that little can be done to remove him and that he cannot be re-elected again. They only hype up their attacks during the mid-term elections, only to eventually cool off again and begin focusing on which Democrat will become the next president in 2024.

Trump's approval eventually hits 50% and stays there for a few years, before plummeting back to 40% as his final term in office nears its end. Some of his policies go over well, others don't. Knowing it is his final term in office, Trump shows even less restraint for the remainder of his time. After the mid-term elections, Trump doesn't show much regard for the Republican Party and its chances in 2024.

Trump Very Narrowly Beats Biden

Much of what unfolds in the previous timeline also unfolds in this one, but with slightly more mild riots—merely due to the fact that Biden's campaign so narrowly loses that he refuses to concede and promises to re-count every last vote. This gives the leftist mobs a glimmer of hope.

This scenario sees the same upside-down smiles at CNN and MSNBC, but with little, periodic twinkles of hope in between speculation of how recounts in North Carolina, Florida and Arizona could flip the entire election to Joe Biden. In this scenario, Trump beats Biden in these states by historically slim margins.

Biden wins Wisconsin, Michigan and a bunch of minor swing states—but not enough to put him to 270 in the Electoral College. Trump wins just enough to put him to 270 or 272, but it all hinges on a few thousand (or a few hundred) votes from North Carolina, Iowa, Florida and Arizona. If recounts change either one of those states to Joe Biden, Trump loses. It's one of the closest races in modern history.

The recounts go on for months and go back and forth through appeals and court challenges.

Trump eventually beats Biden and recounts fail to produce a different result. In the end, a few counts change, but not enough to hand the presidency to Joe Biden. As a result, Democrats and mainstream news repeat their patterns from 2016 (accusation of Russian interference, fake news, white supremacy, Trump's illegitimacy, etc.). They even begin to question the legitimacy of recounts. This goes on for more than a year after Trump's inauguration, leading to an eventual mid-term defeat for Republicans in Congress.

The media spends months aggressively attacking Trump and Republicans, feeding leftist rage to the boiling point. The margins were so close in 2020 that Democrats and mainstream media rally enough support in 2022 to beat Republicans across the country in Congress and the Senate, turning Trump into an early lame duck for his last two years in office. Democrats pass several veto-proof bills with majority support, leaving Trump with nothing left to do but rant on Twitter about how unfair it all is. He signs some executive orders, but those too get blocked and repealed by Democrat majorities. Several Republicans, bitter about Trump dragging down their party, join Democrats in opposing Trump on everything.

Republicans start to distance themselves from Trumpism to improve their chances in 2024. Almost all of the Republican presidential candidates try to turn the page and move in an entirely new direction.

Alternate scenario: At least one of the recounts succeeds at flipping the election to Joe Biden. In this case, Trump puts up a fight, but eventually is forced to concede defeat, threatening to continue his fight through other means. Trump goes out proclaiming that the election was rigged and that the votes were stolen. Nothing else ever materializes and Joe Biden goes on to finish his first (and maybe only) term in office with a few typical scandals and gaffes along the way.

Biden Wins A Landslide

You've never seen mainstream media as full of glee as they are now. Early in the evening, results show lower than expected support for Trump in even the strongest Republican strongholds, like Kentucky and Indiana. As other states start to report, it becomes clear, very early, that the Trump presidency is over.

Anderson Cooper has one of the biggest smiles anyone has ever seen. CNN's panel is almost jumping out of their seats with excitement every time another state is declared for Joe Biden. Wolf Blitzer's enthusiasm is hard to ignore.

Before half the country even begins to report, CNN calls the entire election for Joe Biden, proudly declaring him the next president of the United States. “Biden Wins Presidency” appears on the screen for most of the night, even before Nevada and Arizona have a chance to report their results.

Trump refuses to concede until late into the evening, compelling Joe Biden to give his victory speech first—a rare thing in history for any winner to do. A crowd of Biden supporters forms outside the White House, celebrating Trump's defeat and shouting slogans.

"Donald Trump will either be a one-term president,  or he won't be."

Late into the evening, Trump eventually concedes and wishes Joe Biden well. The following morning, he undermines his entire speech by claiming the election was rigged. “Rigged election! Must investigate,” he tweets. “I warned it would be rigged!”

Mainstream news spends weeks declaring Joe Biden's win “historic”, while largely ignoring Trump's accusations and speeches. They speculate on whether Trump will refuse to leave office. Left-wing activists are overjoyed by Biden's victory, but fearful Trump won't leave—so they begin protests across the country, shouting slogans like “Leave, it's over! Democracy always wins.” They hold signs that say, “Not our president anymore.”

On inauguration day, nothing out of the ordinary happens. Joe Biden's crowd is small, but media uses the lingering Coronavirus as an excuse. “People are still a bit concerned about the virus,” Anderson Cooper says.

Trump attends the inauguration, shakes Biden's hand and walks to the helicopter with his wife like every other modern president before him. Trump leaves gracefully, but spends weeks claiming the election was rigged on social media. As the year goes on, Trump re-starts his rally circuit and announces he will start a new political news organization. He travels across the country giving speeches to large crowds—but smaller ones than he attracted in 2016. The media ignores it all.

Joe Biden spends most of his time in office being praised by CNN and bashed by Fox News. A few scandals surface and Joe Biden makes several embarrassing gaffes on the world stage. A few signs of typical corruption arise, but most of mainstream media brushes it under the rug. Any economic misfortunes and downturns are blamed on Trump.

The Republicans distance themselves from Trump and his ideology, attempting to tread a new path. Almost every 2024 candidate bashes Trump and tries to move in a new direction. The party elects a younger, more moderate candidate to run against Biden. It all fails and Joe Biden wins a second term.

Alternate scenario: health problems, or a major health scandal of epic proportions, sinks Biden, forcing him to resign. His replacement still wins the presidency for Democrats in 2024.

Hillary Clinton Becomes President

Hillary Clinton never lost with any grace or dignity, so there is no reason to assume she won't do everything in her power to become president after being blatantly rejected by Americans. Her path to victory would require some ruthless deal-making and backstabbing, but it could still happen—even with Joe Biden as the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Given Biden's success in current opinion polls, the less likely scenario involves the Democratic establishment and the Clintons concocting a way to shake up the Democratic convention by persuading delegates to vote for Hillary. If Biden begins to falter dangerously between now and the convention, this could still happen. If you're familiar with the process of electing a presidential nominee in the Democratic Party, you know that delegates are free to disregard the popular vote and to cast a vote for whom ever they choose. They can vote for Hillary, Biden, Bernie, George Clooney, Bill Gates, Kermit The Frog, or anyone their hearts desire.

Under the pretense of cognitive decline or general ineptitude, Hillary would only need to convince a slight majority of delegates to flip on Joe Biden. She could even convince Bernie Sanders or any other candidate's delegates to support her instead of Joe.

Another scenario sees the Clinton establishment somehow convincing the Biden camp to select Hillary as his running mate. It would be an unpopular choice, but they could convince Biden that his appeal and Trump's lack of popularity would be enough to blunt the damage her involvement might do to his campaign. Even so, Hillary did win the popular vote in 2016, meaning she isn't as unpopular as Trump supporters would like to think.

In such a scenario, a health problem, scandal, criminal probe or death involving Joe Biden would put Hillary Clinton into the president's chair. The vice president is the first person in the line of succession to replace a sitting president in the event of resignation, impeachment or death.

If Hillary is as ruthless as we all know she is, she'll work from the inside to remove Joe Biden.

Halfway through his term, with Hillary as vice president, the chances of Biden being ousted are more than likely. In fact, if Biden selects Hillary as his running mate, he would essentially be ending his own presidency before it starts.

If he selects Hillary as his running mate, it's also possible that it was a part of a larger plan (that he is involved with) to install her as president. After all, a president can resign for whatever reason, at any time.

All we can do now is watch and hope for the best. If Trump's “silent majority” is really out there, he will win a landslide. If he wins very narrowly, his weakness will be a sign of major erosion within his base and a sign of future Republican volatility. If media and polls are right, either Biden or Hillary will become the next president.

© 2020 Poletical