A Japanese Perspective

Dr. Satohiro Akimoto with the Asan Forum

A Japanese Perspective

-The Asan Forum-

What Do the Midterm Elections Mean for Trump’s East Asia Policies?

The 2018 midterm elections have revealed that President Trump has only Plan A for his reelection campaign in 2020. Trump will seek to go back to the White House by appealing solely to his core support base. This approach will mostly dictate Trump’s approach to East Asia in the next two years.

The president’s party historically does poorly in the midterm elections. Additionally, presidents with a job approval rating below 50% tend to lose close to 40 House seats. Two months before the 2018 midterm elections, Trump had only a 40% job approval rating. Furthermore, the Democrats were energized. Sensing the danger of a Blue Wave, which may undermine his reelection efforts, Trump held an unusually high number of campaign rallies, which were exact copies of his rallies in the 2016 president election. His messages were aimed only at his core support base in the red states, which mostly consists of less-than college educated, white working class, culturally conservative, and narrowly patriotic voters. Focusing his appeal on this base has likely ramifications for trade and security policy in the Indo-Pacific region as well as for the overall packaging of Trump’s policies through some sort of vision of the region’s future.

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