According to the political prognosticators over at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, the 2020 presidential election is, at this point, anyone’s ballgame. Their analysis of the electoral college, in combination with recent statewide polls and historical evidence, leads them to conclude that the country is split right down the middle when it comes to Trump and his as-yet-undetermined Democratic challenger.
“We continue to see the 2020 presidential election as something of a 50-50 proposition,” the site explained. “There are competing trends that argue both for and against the president’s chances. On one hand, an incumbent president presiding over a time of relative peace and prosperity usually would be seen as a favorite, although there is some question about whether Americans’ optimism about the economy is weakening. The president does not have a top-tier challenger for the GOP nomination, another factor in his favor. On the other hand, the president’s approval rating is consistently weak, weaker than an incumbent president would want going into a reelection bid, and it’s not even clear that everyone who approves of the president’s job performance is certain to back him next year.”
The site’s analysts acknowledged that, in the absence of a Democratic nominee and uncertainty about where the economy will be when the election rolls around, they can do no more than make educated guesses about the state of the field. To roll things around to a more competitive map, they threw New Hampshire into the Leans Democratic category, citing President Trump’s relatively weak approval ratings in the Granite State.
“That makes the overall Electoral College ratings exactly split, 248 apiece, with 42 electoral votes’ worth of Toss-ups: Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, plus Nebraska’s Second Congressional District,” they continued. “This also puts all of Clinton’s 2016 electoral votes in at least the Leaning Democratic column. But that doesn’t mean the president shouldn’t target some of these states anyway — and he certainly will.”
Trump showed signs of that this week when he traveled to New Mexico in an attempt to bolster his popularity among the Hispanic population in that state. While few political pundits give Trump much of a chance to turn New Mexico red in the upcoming election, the president is wise to try and expand his electoral dominance. There’s no guarantee that the Democrats’ crumbled blue wall in the Midwest won’t suddenly regenerate for 2020, especially if Trump’s opponent remembers to correct the mistakes of Hillary Clinton.
By pulling some states – or even one of them – out of the Clinton column, Trump gives himself more breathing room throughout the Rust Belt.