Now the calendar flips to November and you find yourself offering a prayer for this embattled nation of ours.
In precisely one year, on the first Tuesday in November 2020, America will contest what promises to be the ugliest Presidential election, in any of our lifetimes.
Given what this nation lived through in 2016, that’s really saying something.
Twelve months from Election Day, with the Iowa caucuses three months out, we know perhaps only one thing for sure: President Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee.
Sure, Trump needs to survive the upcoming House impeachment process – a dog and pony show for the ages, no doubt – and the increasing likelihood of a trial in the U.S. Senate.
But the smart money remains on the House impeaching followed by the Senate failing to muster the two-thirds vote necessary to remove a sitting President from office.
Might Trump resign under pressure, a la Richard Nixon in 1974? My belief is no. Feeling pressure is a rational response to facing a deeply unsettling situation and rationality has never been a Trump strong point.
Across the aisle, Democrats culled their field to 18 candidates running against Trump.
I’ll confess I’ve paid precious little attention so far, instead of adopting my typical approach to NBA basketball: Skip the regular season and wait for the conference finals.
This way, you avoid watching the Charlotte Hornets and Atlanta Hawks – or Wayne Messam and Steve Bullock – and you cut straight to the chase.
My prediction: Anyone who predicts in American politics a year out is bound to be embarrassed.
I’m still living down predicting Joe Arpaio would be sheriff until he turns 114 years old. Instead, here’s an observation I guarantee will be key come next November: Whomever the Democrats pick, Republicans will hate that person, down to the marrow.
This will leave us heading into Election Day about where we are right now: With eight in 10 registered partisans very likely to vote and 90 percent of them in lockstep with their party’s candidate of choice.
As for the rest of us – voters outside the two major parties – there’s one key demographic who will decide this election, exactly as exit polls say they did in 2016.
Georgetown University recently polled Americans about the 2020 race, and buried in GOP pollster Ed Goeas’ analysis was this nugget: “Exit polling in 2016, indicated that 19 percent of voters who voted on Election Day had an unfavorable view of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. President Trump won most of these ‘dislike both’ voters by a two-to-one margin in the key states making this bloc of voters decisive for his victory.”
That’s what Election 2020 surely will come down to swing state voters, who despise both candidates, holding our noses and throwing a dart at the lesser of two evils.
Maybe the economy stays strong and that’s enough to bail out Trump come November.
Or maybe he tweet-attacks and MAGA hashtags his way right out of office, fired like that old colleague we all once worked with, the guy who got some stuff done but took credit for his achievements and yours and whom nobody liked much besides.
The Georgetown poll also found that the average voter believes that right now America is two-thirds of the way to the edge of a second civil war.
There I disagree. I think we’re actually in the middle of it.
This time, the war isn’t being fought with muskets and cannons. The weapons are ballots and we have a year until a ceasefire. Then, next November, we can total up the dead and wounded.