Issue Briefs

If President Trump Isn’t Reelected, What Will That Mean For The Military?

If President Trump Isn’t Reelected, What Will That Mean For The Military?

November 4, 2019

By Loren Thompson

President Trump isn’t likely to be removed from office through the impeachment process. Even if every Democratic member of the chamber voted for removal in a Senate trial, 20 Republican senators would have to turn on Trump to expel him from office. That outcome looks exceedingly improbable today.

The more plausible scenarios for Trump’s departure would be either resignation or failure to win reelection. The president shows no sign of resigning, so next year’s election looms as the biggest opportunity for those who say the nation can’t stand another four years of Trump to seat a more congenial chief executive in the White House.

I have written earlier this year about why Trump has a good chance of getting reelected. Most presidents who choose to run again do get a second term, even when they have low approval levels like Trump does. However, there is one scenario in which a Trump reelection bid would almost certainly fail—if an economic recession set in over the next year.

As Aaron Blake has explained in the Washington Post, no president since 1900 has managed to win a second term if the last two years of his initial term saw a recession. To put the facts starkly, every president since 1900 who has avoided a recession late in his first term has won a second term if he sought one. Every president who had a recession in the two years before he stood for reelection lost the White House.

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Loren B. Thompson is a Senior Adviser at GPI, Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute and Chief Executive Officer of Source Associates, a for-profit consultancy. Prior to holding his present positions, he was Deputy Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University and taught graduate-level courses in strategy, technology and media affairs at Georgetown. He has also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Thompson holds doctoral and masters degrees in government from Georgetown University and a bachelor of science degree in political science from Northeastern University.