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US President Donald Trump's prospects of second term 'grim' - commentator

One of US President Donald Trump's most strident critics has called the incumbent's prospects "grim" just days out from what could be the most contentious election in modern history.

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David Frum called Trump "the most consistently unpopular first-term president in the history of polling." Source: Q+A

David Frum, the former senior adviser to US President George W. Bush, told Q+A's Jack Tame that Trump has been "in trouble even before the pandemic" and the ensuing fallout from the economic depression.

"President Trump has been the most consistently unpopular first-term president in the history of polling," he said. "There has not been a day since he was sworn in when he reached 50 per cent approval in any reputable poll."

The political commentator said while Trump is "constantly telling you how great things are going for him ... that shouldn't obscure the fact that he was pretty unpopular even before all of this happened", especially among those who are more likely to vote in the November 3 election.

Frum said the ongoing support from the Republican party can be attributed to "an opportunity to grab for power and not a lot of thinking what this would mean for the future of the party".

"They got the big tax cuts through and they've confirmed a lot of judges, but compared to what is coming, those gains are going to look pretty puny," he said.

"I think in retrospect, a lot of Republicans are going to ask themselves, 'Was it worth it?'"

He said while Trump has been "a dreadful thing in so many ways it's hard to enumerate them all", his biggest concern is what his presidency has meant for "America's standing in the world".

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It’s the state that supported Donald Trump more than any other in 2016, when almost 70 per cent of voters there backed him. Source: 1 NEWS

"President Trump's idea of an America alone that just barks orders at the rest of the world and expects them to be carried out is going to fail, and it's going to fail with very serious implications, not only for the United States, but all our friends."

Frum expressed concerns over Trump potentially attempting to "hold on to power in the face of a technicality," including "prolonged trouble in the courts" and the possibility to "invite politics to move to the streets where we never want politics to be".

He warned that a Joe Biden win would not spell the end of Trumpism - a "rejection of the norms of liberal democracy, of this rejection of scientific knowledge, of this sense of grievance against the modern world" - however, calling it "a global phenomenon" present in "almost every developed country" and emerging economies.

"It's part of the modern world that there are people who are aggrieved against the modern world, so it won't go away."

Frum noted that the "task of politics isn't about banishing difficulties", but to contain and manage them.

"You'll always have them, but if we can put America as a rule of law footing ... where there's some limits and constraints on what they can do or say - both in law and in practice - we'll be a lot better off."