President Donald Trump faces an “uphill battle” in the 2020 presidential race, according to billionaire investor David Rubenstein, who worked in the White House under Democratic President Jimmy Carter.
In a newly released interview, Rubenstein said Trump faces a difficult re-election because of the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak and other issues that have eroded his popularity.
“Clearly, President Trump has a challenge now, because presidents don't usually get re-elected when the economy is in bad shape,” Rubenstein told Yahoo Finance on Tuesday.
“When the economy is not good, you have people like Jimmy Carter not getting re-elected, George Herbert Walker Bush not getting re-elected, Gerald Ford not getting re-elected. So the economy is not as good as it once was,” adds Rubenstein, who interviews top CEOs on Bloomberg’s “Leadership Live.”
Trump on Wednesday replaced campaign manager Brad Parscale, a significant change of leadership with the election less than four months away.
A Gallup survey conducted in June gave Trump an approval rating of 39%, which marked a 10-point drop from his rating in the poll a month prior. Trump currently trails Biden by 9.1 percentage points, according to an average of national polls calculated by FiveThirtyEight.
After the spread of the coronavirus became widely known in March, tens of millions of Americans lost their jobs and thousands of businesses declared bankruptcy. The economy showed some signs of initial recovery last month, when the U.S. added a record 4.8 million jobs, which dropped the unemployment rate to 11.1%.
Both Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, the two most recent presidents who failed to win reelection, lost their bids in part due to an economic downturn. Carter, a Democrat, lost to Republican challenger Ronald Reagan in 1980 after a six-month recession that began in January of that year. George H.W. Bush lost to Democratic challenger Bill Clinton in 1992, not long after an eight-month recession that began in July 1990.
Rubenstein made the remarks in an episode of Yahoo Finance’s “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.
Before he rose to prominence in finance, Rubenstein was an adviser to Carter at just 27 years old. In 1987, he co-founded a $5 million firm called Carlyle Group that now manages more than $200 billion in assets and runs offices on six continents.
He has an estimated net worth of $3.4 billion, according to Forbes.
Rubenstein acknowledged that the dynamic of the race has shifted dramatically since March, when many expected Trump to make economic stewardship a compelling centerpiece of his reelection campaign.
“Four months ago we would have thought Trump is going to get re-elected,” Rubenstein says. “Four months ago you'd say, ‘economy's pretty good.’”
“Now, it looks like he has a difficult time getting re-elected,” he says. “But you know, four months from now, or by the time that November comes around, things could change.