13 Predictions on How Long Trump’s Presidency Will Last

How long will President Trump survive? Nobody knows, but everyone’s guessing.

It’s a basic principle of psychology that the defenses we erect to defend our value always end up producing exactly what we are trying to avoid. In Trump’s case, the relentless insistence that he didn’t do it feeds the case that he did do it. I don’t know what the “it” will turn out to be, but I know Trump well enough to know that there are countless potential “its.”

I believe the end for Trump is much closer than most people imagine. Perhaps that’s wishful thinking, and I recognize I’m not particularly trustworthy. I always feared Trump could win the presidency, but I never truly believed he would. I do believe Trump will self-immolate. The more convinced Trump becomes that he will be caught, the more desperately he will deny what will turn out to be indisputably true. Is there anyone rational who doesn’t believe he has already obstructed justice several times over? In the end, I don’t believe Trump will be impeached, or found guilty of a crime. My gut tells me that when the fire gets hot enough, he will make a deal to save himself, resign the presidency, and declare victory. —Tony Schwartz, co-author of The Art of the Deal

After the Democrats went zero for four in special elections, the delusions and fantasies continue. Trump will be reelected in 2020, and Pence will probably follow him in 2024. The analogue for Trump is Andrew Jackson, not Richard Nixon. —Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House

The likeliest outcome is a very weakened presidency that goes a full term, but discredits much of the angry rhetoric and sentiment that got Trump elected — that the problems of average people are a consequence of government overreach. And that will be a continuing dilemma for Republican members of Congress, who will be caught between the unhappiness with Trump of the electorate at large and the enthusiasm of Republican voters. —Barney Frank, former congressman

I will say this: Trump will survive as long as congressional Republicans lack a conscience. They are too afraid of the right-wing base to speak up for decency, as Howard Baker, Barry Goldwater, and others did during Watergate. —Jill Abramson, senior lecturer, Harvard

It is perhaps naïve to underestimate Donald Trump’s capacity for self-inflicted wounds. But, even so, Trump is likely to weather his scandals because he has advantages that Richard Nixon could never have imagined: (1) He has an alternative-reality media infrastructure that will provide him air cover and attack his critics, regardless of the facts that emerge. (2) The Republican base remains solidly behind him, regardless of his erratic behavior and reckless rhetoric. Until that base cracks, GOP politicians will be loath to distance themselves from Trump. And, finally, (3) conservatives have allowed themselves to be corrupted by Trumpism, as they jettison long-held principles in the service of what has become a cult of personality on the right.

All of this could change, of course, but until Republicans show even a modest willingness to stand up to the president, it’s hard to see how they would be complicit in bringing him down. —Charlie Sykes, former talk-show host

The great conundrum of the Trump era is that it is almost impossible to imagine this level of public agitation, chaos, lawbreaking, and unpopularity sustaining itself for four years. Yet it is equally difficult to imagine any credible way it ends, at least before 2019. Clearly one of these premises must be wrong. I’ve struggled to figure out which one it is. My best guess is that Trump is more likely than not to leave office before January 2021. The number to watch is approval from self-identified Republicans. That number now stands at over 80 percent. It likely needs to fall to 50 percent or below before removal from office becomes credible. —Josh Marshall, editor and publisher, Talking Points Memo

Whether Trump survives — and I think he will — has nothing to do with the professional pundits and prognosticators who write for this magazine. The media has less credibility and influence today over politics than at any time in modern times. Instead, his survival is based on maintaining the support he has from the tens of millions of Americans who voted for him. And from what I see and hear — and I have spent more time with Trump voters than just about anyone in America — they’re behind him 100 percent.

These alienated Americans don’t support him because of his economic policies, though they do believe the American workforce has been used and abused by the international economic community. They don’t support him for his foreign policy, though they eagerly embrace his America First clarion call. They support Trump because of his persona, the in-your-face bravado that is so often condemned because it is so often misunderstood. His base, about 35 percent of the American electorate, has waited a lifetime for a president to stand up, speak out, and reorder the world order. It’s been chaotic and messy, but to the average Trump voter, it’s exactly what they wanted — and they are grateful. —Frank Luntz, Republican pollster

One thing I learned during my time in Obama’s White House: Never underestimate the cravenness of Mitch McConnell. If all you care about is cutting taxes for the rich and repealing Obamacare in secret, a Watergate-size distraction is a feature rather than a bug. As long as Trump’s base (and Fox News allies) punish Republicans who push for impeachment, I just don’t see McConnell and his party cutting the president loose. Until he becomes toxic in the brightest-red states and districts, they’ll be more than happy to use the chaos as cover while they ram through as much regressive policy as possible. —David Litt, former Obama speechwriter

Trump himself hasn’t proved predictions wrong — he is exactly what his critics expected — but the American people and the Republican Party did, by not standing up to Trump’s nationalist demagoguery in time. The people and other elements of government and civil society are rising to the challenge, but unless the GOP starts putting principles over party, America is headed for more chaos, more division, and a constitutional crisis. Trump cares only for his “brand,” so he’ll look for a way out before impeachment. —Garry Kasparov, chairman of the Human Rights Foundation

Because of the administration’s exhaustive attack on the media, accusing them of constantly reporting fake news, when Trump mysteriously abandons the presidency in August of 2019, no one will know why. All eyes will then turn to Woodward and Bernstein, the only trusted reporters left, for the answer. As they begin to share with us the brilliant Machiavellian coup d’état just staged by the deep state, we all wake up, it’s November 7, 2016, and this was all a horrible dream. Who are we kidding? Trump’s a two-term president. Enjoy! —Larry Wilmore, host of Black on the Air podcast

Today’s guess: I would say he is more likely to be felled by fast food than anything else but, on his current path, is no more than a one-termer. —Norm Eisen, chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

Assume that Trump manages to avoid stumbling into a major war. (Should that assumption prove false, then all bets are off.) But if our current situation persists — lesser wars that drag on indefinitely — then the current obsession with Trumpian scandals, real or alleged, is likely to intensify. Trump has shown himself to be astonishingly thin-skinned. He will grow weary of being pursued. Before his enemies close in for the kill, he will leave the field. —Andrew J. Bacevich, historian, Boston University

Although beset and besieged at every turn — and gaining an average of ten pounds a year — Trump indeed will make it through his first term. He’ll choose not to run again in 2020. Mike Pence will run and lose to New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who thus becomes the first female president. (I offer this prediction having been wrong about every bit of political prognosticating I’ve ever been foolish enough to make.) —Margaret Sullivan, media columnist, Washington Post

*A version of this article appears in the June 26, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.

13 Predictions on How Long Trump’s Presidency Will Last