Last year, Donald Trump made a big deal out of it when Time magazine named him their Person of the Year. This year, it's looking like he might not have the chance to do it again. As of right now, Trump is trailing in Time's "Person of the Year" reader poll, and he's unlikely to be thrilled at who currently leads him in reader votes.
Before the editors of Time have the final say to determine who will become their person of the year, they hold a reader poll. While the editors can of course overrule the results of the poll to choose someone else, they say that they do take this deeply into account. Based on his comments upon winning the "Person of the Year" distinction in 2016, Trump seemed to think that it was a popularity contest of sorts, or at least "a very, very great honor." What it's about instead, say the editors of Time, is power and influence in the world — whether or not the person is well-loved, and whether or not they're using their power for moral ends.
Trump could still become the "Person of the Year" for the second time running. We can't rule that possibility out. However, what this news from the reader poll tells us is that even if Time's editors were to bestow that victory upon, he likely won't have won the only part of the whole thing that actually is a popularity contest.
Ahead on him in popularity, then, are some people whose position Trump's definitely not going to appreciate. Currently leading Trump in Time's "Person of the Year" reader poll are San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, musician Taylor Swift, and the #MeToo movement. At the moment, Trump is tied with the Dreamers.
The inclusion of Cruz — and her success so far — is likely to anger Trump, as he savagely attacked her on Twitter after she made an impassioned plea for increased government assistance in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria struck the island. His decision to insult her in the middle of a natural disaster caused a firestorm online, so the fact that she's doing better in this poll than him is a pretty good indication that he's lost popularity.
Another person who seems to have captured the public's imagination more this year is Taylor Swift, who drove the world crazy by leaking bits and pieces of her new album out over several months before dropping it to much success — if not the highest musical acclaim. Swift, unlike many other public figures in this era, has remained entirely apolitical, which could mean that some of the poll's voters were going with a more escapist choice — or simply aren't political themselves.
#MeToo, which has also done better so far than the president, is less a person than a movement, but giving the "Person of the Year" to someone besides one particular person wouldn't be a first for Time. After all, they did put a mirror on the cover of their magazines and name "You" as "Person of the Year" in 2006 after websites like YouTube and Facebook began flourishing and putting the user at the forefront of what was then still a very much emerging internet. Giving all of the women and men who have come out and told their stories of sexual harassment and abuse using the #MeToo hashtag would not only capture a huge moment from this fraught year, it would also be an indication that power has at least in some way shifted from the abusers to the abused.
Two dozen women have accused Trump of sexual harassment, and he was caught on tape bragging about being able to sexually assault women because he was famous. Trump has flatly denied all allegations of sexual harassment. But even so, his election was a difficult pill to swallow for many victims of sexual harassment and sexual abuse. Were the #MeToo movement to defeat the president in a competition that he was clearly very honored to win last year, it could seem like a small slice of justice.