These are nervous times for the Republican party. They just passed an extremely unpopular tax bill, they’re led by an extremely unpopular president, and they’re at risk of losing their majority in the Senate. The midterm elections next year could make or break the party, and Donald Trump’s presidency could even be hanging in the balance.
There’s absolutely no guarantee that Trump will head the party in 2020. Ladbrokes has placed the president at even odds to run for reelection, implying that there is just a mere 50% chance he’ll run for a second term. The bookmakers have a few names to replace him.
The odds right now are quite long. If you don’t mind tying up some cash for the next couple of years, it may be worth picking one of the frontrunners. Let’s take a look at who to consider and who to avoid.
Donald Trump: Even
It’s generally expected that a sitting President will run for a second term. But Donald Trump is a unique case and there are quite a few reasons why he may not run for re-election.
The most pressing issue is his approval rating. Trump has consistently polled in the 30s since taking office, making him the most unpopular president in history. Unless his numbers drastically change, his chances of serving two terms are pretty slim. However, his approval rating among Republicans remains in the high 70s, so his lack of popularity nationwide may not actually hinder his chances of winning the Republican nomination in 2020.
There’s also a slim chance that Trump is impeached or forced to resign. The Mueller investigation is moving quickly and who knows what will be uncovered. Especially if the Democrats sweep the midterms next year, there’s a decent chance Congress will move to impeach him.
Then there’s the issue of age. Donald Trump is the oldest person ever to be elected president. It’s a sensitive topic, but there’s no guarantee he’ll still be around when 2020 swings by. He could also just decide to retire.
Mike Pence: 4/1
If, for whatever reason, Donald Trump is removed from office or decides not to stand for reelection, Vice President Mike Pence is next in line to take his place. He may seem like a devoted Trump loyalist, but he’s also an extremely ambitious and savvy politician.
He has the support of both pro-Trump and establishment Republicans, which places him in a rare and enviable position within the GOP. However, if Trump ever becomes too unpopular, Pence will also suffer. At the end of the day, he’s still Trump’s VEEP and has stood by him every step of the way.
John Kasich: 20/1
This is pretty much the ctrl+Z option for the Republicans. If this whole “Trump thing” doesn’t work out for the GOP, they could choose to nominate John Kasich, a traditional establishment Republican, and pretend like it never happened.
Kasich is more-or-less Jeb Bush without turtles in his pockets. He’s mild-mannered, scandal-free, and is unlikely to ever retweet anti-muslim propaganda. That sounds like an appealing change of pace. He stayed in the 2016 race long after he lost all hope of winning the Republican nomination, presumably to angle himself for a 2020 run. We haven’t heard much from him lately, but expect him to step back into the limelight when campaign season hits.
Nikki Haley: 20/1
Normally, threatening the entire United Nations is considered a pretty bad move. But these aren’t normal times. Nikki Haley, the ambassador to the U.N. and former Governor of South Carolina, is one of the frontrunners to lead the Republican party into 2020.
While others in the administration have had to bend over backward and debase themselves in order to support the President, Haley has been dubbed the Trump administration’s breakout star.
Pundits are already wondering out loud whether she could become the first female president. Whether Haley, a staunch conservative, can win over Democrats remains to be seen, but she’s already captured the hearts of Republican voters.
Paul Ryan: 20/1
I’m going to rule this one out right now. Paul Ryan is one of the few politicians despised by both Republicans and Democrats. Passing the tax bill, the first major legislative achievement since Trump took office, may temporarily improve his dismal numbers among Republican voters, but it probably won’t last long. In short, save your money and pick someone else.