FARGO — President Trump should easily win his 2020 re-election bid.

“I think President Trump is a slam-dunk to be re-elected if the economy is growing at 2% or greater,” Karlgaard said.

That’s the prediction Forbes Publisher, columnist, author, commentator and futurist Rich Karlgaard told a sold-out crowd during the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce Economic Outlook Forum Thursday, Feb. 20, at the Hilton Garden Inn, 4351 17th Ave. S.

It wasn’t without a caveat.

“It doesn’t mean I don’t think he’ll be re-elected if it’s growing any less,” he said. “I just think that 2% or more, you know, the party’s over for the other party.”

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Karlgaard, a North Dakota native, is the author of "The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success" and "Team Genius: The New Science of High Performing Organizations." This is the second consecutive year Karlgaard was asked to headline the event. He famously predicted President Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election, and this next time around should be no different.

“While it will depend on who he runs against, of course.” Karlgaard said. “If he runs against a pro-growth, more centrist, he probably needs a 2% [growth] economy.”

He also predicted there will be a brokered Democratic convention, with “all hell” breaking loose, not unlike the 1968 Democratic convention.

“Protests in the street, police, hippies, yippies, the big showdown between the progressive wing of the party and the centrist wing of the party. It was just a disaster for the party, and it paved the way for Nixon’s election in 1968,” he said.

Current political betting predicts a greater than 50% probability of a brokered Democratic convention, he said.

“I think it might even be higher than that,” Karlgaard said.

There were other predictions, mostly focused on how the nation’s economy is likely to grow.

While growth will be poor at the start of 2020, due to a number of factors including the coronavirus outbreak, there are reasons for hope, he said.

The stock market is undervalued, Karlgaard said, with room to grow if the market drops. If it doesn’t grow, he said, it could still remain at high levels, for which Trump can claim some credit.

“That’s good for his re-election prospects,” Karlgaard said.

Household debt isn’t as bad as the popular press would have people believe, he said, and the national deficit is costing us “way less than it did in the 1980s and 1990s.”

The bottom line, he said, is 2020 economic growth won’t be spectacular, but will “solidly” grow at least 2%.

Beyond that?

“There’s plenty of turbulence ahead,” he said. “That doesn’t go away. The unknown factor of the election being settled does not take away the uncertainties in the economy.”

Karlgaard forecasted the continuance of a “two-speed” economy that will challenge “all communities.”

With a digital economy that shows no signs of slowing down, industries and their leaders not positioned to take advantage of the momentum will likely be swept aside.

“Digital technology is not slowing down,” Karlgaard said, “it’s speeding up.”

Over the next 10 years, expect major transformations.

“You ain’t seen nothing yet,” he said. “You’re going to see every industry out there undergoing fundamental change to their business models.”

Gov. Doug Burgum said "there's never been a better time to be a North Dakotan" during the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce Economic Outlook Forum Thursday, Feb. 20, at the Hilton Garden Inn. Photo courtesy of the FMWF Chamber
Gov. Doug Burgum said "there's never been a better time to be a North Dakotan" during the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce Economic Outlook Forum Thursday, Feb. 20, at the Hilton Garden Inn. Photo courtesy of the FMWF Chamber

Karlgaard was, in part, introduced by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who christened the economic forum with a positive message, saying Fargo has been rated the third-best place to raise a family, and rated No. 1 as a place for millennials, as well as having the No. 1 hottest job market in the nation.

“My goodness,” Burgum said, "how grateful are we to be in this spot, at this point in time, when there's never been a better time to be a North Dakotan."