With Nancy Pelosi recently taking impeachment off the table — leading to consternation among some Democrats — and the completion of the Mueller investigation looking imminent, the question of how Trump’s presidency will and should end has never been more contested, and more unknowable. We canvassed 100 people on the streets of New York — at the Oculus, Washington Square Park, and Union Square — to find out how they thought this would end. Here’s what they told us.
51% Think He’ll Run Again and Lose in 2020
I wish he could be dragged out of the country right now, but most likely he will run again and lose. —Susan, 21, Lower East Side
The optimist in me says he gets impeached, but then we’re left with Pence, which worries me because he actually knows about government. Realistically, he runs again but doesn’t win. —Myliyah, 22, Bushwick
I doubt that America will make the same mistake again. —Rajendra, 21, Elmhurst
Runs again but doesn’t win. Has a breakdown on Twitter. —Simona, 21, Bushwick
His broken presidency will have motivated high voter turnout. Several decades from now, he will be the reason our system shifts aggressively left. —Jonny, 24, Flatiron
Americans come to their senses. —Jezoen, 48, Upper East Side
Loses the 2020 election (wins the primary). Closely gets impeached but voted down by Congress. —Mindy, 23, Midtown East
He’ll run but won’t be elected. Maybe he’ll resign and Pence will become president for ten minutes and pardon him. —Leslie, 54, Soho
23% Think He’ll Win Reelection
Trump runs again and wins, based off of wild MAGA diehards and Russian interference … again! —Ryan, 21, Washington Square Park
He’ll probably get reelected and die halfway through. He’s old and sucks.
—Natalie, 20, East Harlem
Unless the Democrats can come up with a really great candidate. —Jess, 31, New Jersey
Best president I’ve ever seen. His administration knows the problems of America and the world. Americans will suffer if they don’t follow him. He’ll be reelected. —Julius, 64, Jersey City
After the second term, he might face justice. —Malte, 30, Nolita
9% Have No Idea
Not sure; he hurts my soul. —Jordan, 38, Bushwick
Hopefully it will just end. Like Brexit. —Stacey, 35, Queens
8% Think He’ll Lose in 2020 and Have to Be Deposed
The Cheeto-head angers a militia of people who then try to attack him.
In the end he flees the country to Russia. —Gina, 23, Greenwich Village
Loses next election and claims election is hoax. Needs to be removed. —Jack, 45, Greenwich Village
3% Think He Won’t Even Bother Running
He’s over the pressures. —Stephen, 64, midtown
3% Think He’ll Be Impeached and Convicted
Truly feel like he will be impeached. —Yasmeen, 18, Jamaica, Queens
2% Think He’ll Resign
After Trump learns that the recently submitted Mueller report includes his (scandalous) tax returns and damning information about his family’s and the Trump Organization’s finances, Trump abruptly resigns (via Twitter, of course). —Robert, 33, Chelsea
1% Think He’ll Become a Despot
It does not end — he changes the laws and becomes dictator with inspiration from his idols Kim Jong-un and Putin. —Kristina, 29, Soho
What the Professionals Say…
We also asked 14 pundits, journalists, academics, and activists to weigh in on how they see the Trump administration ending.
Dahlia Lithwick, Slate legal correspondent
I believe that Trump will run again in 2020 and lose. The slow drip-drip of indictments, congressional probes, and state investigations will mean that his approval ratings stay flat. He will run again because Trump’s gonna Trump. This is all subject to several frightening open questions, however: Will there indeed be free and fair elections? Will this president accept the result of those elections? And will Democrats resist the urge to eat their own faces off?
Frank Rich, New York Magazine writer-at-large
A mix-and-match of the Nixon and Agnew templates may apply. If Trump is made to believe by federal and state prosecutors and/or Robert Mueller that he, his business, and/or his crime family face terminal legal consequences the moment he leaves the White House, he’ll make a deal to save his ass (if not necessarily Donald Jr.’s or Jared’s), declare himself a winner, and fade into house arrest at Mar-a-Lago as part of the grand bargain. If the Vichy Republicans en masse are made to believe that the 2020 polls are their obituaries foretold, they may finally man up to help grease the skids.
Brian Feldman, New York Magazine writer
The Trump presidency ends, in 2024, with a peaceful transition of power. He wishes the best of luck to his successor, President Elizabeth Holmes.
Ann Coulter, Columnist
I assume you’re referring to some future Barron Trump presidency. As for the Donald Trump presidency, it already ended, killed by laziness and lies about the wall. Massive opportunity squandered. From now on, it will just be photo ops and depositions.
Tony Schwartz, Ghostwriter of The Art of the Deal
I no longer believe Trump will resign, as I long believed he would. At this stage, if Trump leaves office, he will almost certainly be criminally indicted and in all likelihood spend his golden years in prison. The Mueller report will be worse than we can imagine and will continue to erode Trump’s support, already the worst of any modern president, and he will lose to whichever Democratic candidate wins the nomination. One caveat: If Donald Jr., Jared, and/or Ivanka get indicted, there is a remote chance Trump could resign in a deal to spare them. However, that would be an act of selflessness — something Trump hasn’t evidenced in his first seven decades on earth.
Andrew Sullivan, New York Magazine writer-at-large
This is unknowable, but my sense is that the likely outcome will be, in descending order: (1) He’s impeached but acquitted and wins reelection; (2) the 2020 election is close, the Democrat wins, but Trump insists he won anyway, won’t quit, leading to federal marshals removing him from White House amid civil unrest; (3) a catastrophe in foreign or domestic policy (like, say, Katrina or Iraq) breaks the base; (4) he loses badly to a currently nonexistent Democratic candidate.
Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor and publisher of The Nation
The Trump presidency ends when he’s voted out of office in November 2020. But for that to become a reality, it’s vital that we expose how Trump is serially betraying the very people he claims to champion.He has a better shot at reelection if Democrats and the media obsess about his daily outrage, most recent tweet-insults, and his personal corruptions and offenses.
Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine columnist
The end, in descending order of probability: (1) Walks away January 20, 2021, as Democrat takes oath of office; (2) dies or resigns owing to health; (3) walks away January 20, 2025, after serving eight years in office; (4) resigns after cutting deal to avoid prosecution.
Kevin D. Williamson, Author of The Smallest Minority
In an important sense, the Trump presidency is not going to end — even if he is impeached, dragged off in irons, or humiliated in 2020. What seemed to be an anomaly in 2016 has proved to be a revelation. In the same way that Trump understood he could run what amounted to a third-party campaign within the GOP, Republicans have learned that they can pursue their top policy priorities — tax cuts, Federalist Society–approved judges, etc. — within Trumpism. The welfare chauvinism, mutant nationalism, and Idiocracy-style rhetorical cretinism are here to stay as items of public consumption, even if the old tax-cuts-and-tax-cuts Republican agenda remains dominant. This will be the case irrespective of what happens to Trump, who has only shown himself to be what we knew him to be: the opportunist nonpareil.
Cecile Richards, Former Planned Parenthood president
The same way it started: with millions of women coming together to demand better for ourselves and our daughters.
Allan Lichtman, American University professor
In a Washington Post interview on September 23, 2016, I predicted Donald Trump’s victory, using my forecasting system. I also predicted Trump’s impeachment. I stand by that prediction.
Samuel Moyn, Yale professor
Donald Trump is likely to lose if he makes it to November 2020 — and everyone on both sides of the political spectrum should want him to do so. Not only is it critical for the people themselves to throw Trump out of office, but getting him out some other way will reinforce suspicions that “the deep state” and elite forces rule in the place of democracy.
Patricia J. Williams, Columbia Law School professor
I conceive of my work as facilitating a system of governance by rules. Alas, we live in unruly times. The end of the Trump presidency is thus beyond the capacities of my imagination — as was its commencement.
Heidi Heitkamp, Former U.S. senator
The Trump presidency will end in January 2025 unless we unite behind a vision of civility to and equal opportunity for all Americans.