It may seem odd to attempt to predict the outcome of a presidential election that is two years and eleven months away, but then I never claimed not to be a little odd. Politics is also something that is weighing on people's minds a lot these days, especially at the national level. The biggest focus is on the 2018 midterm elections, but I'm curious about 2020, as well.
A lot of folks -- though certainly not all -- are of the opinion that President Trump will be ousted (or will resign) during his first term, making a prediction of his 2020 re-election chances a moot point. I'm not so sure. If 2016 taught us anything, it's to never be too certain of anything. The pessimist in me thinks that Trump could possibly not only stay in office, but also be re-elected. Following is why -- at this particular juncture -- I think that is the case.
With a little help from the 270towin web site, let's look at how the Electoral College could shake-out in 2020. We're only focusing on the Electoral College, since the overall poplar vote doesn't matter in presidential elections. First, we'll reset the map so it's a blank slate. All states are open. But of course we know they're not. So at the outset, we'll go through the solid Republican states.
Following are the states that are very probably going Republican in 2020: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Utah, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana. That gets the GOP candidate to 142 electoral votes. It takes 270 to win the presidency.
Some of you may have raised an eyebrow at the exclusion of Arizona and Texas from the list. I did that to placate those who are part of the "They're trending blue!" camp. While it may be true that, at some point, Texas and Arizona will become true battleground states, there is high likelihood that they won't be so in 2020. So, let's add them to the Republican candidate's column (any Republican... doesn't matter if it's Trump, Pence, or someone else). That gives the GOP 191 electoral votes.
Now, on to the Democratic column. The following states are likely to go blue in 2020: Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington DC. That's a total of 201 electoral votes for the Democratic candidate, whomever they may be. I left-off New Mexico and Nevada, simply because I think they fall outside of the 'safe' column, but, if I had to guess, it's likely they'd go Democratic, so we'll add them to the list. That gives the Democratic candidate 212 electoral votes to Trump's/the Republican's 191.
While things might look better for the Democrat at this point, unfortunately, I think this is where the positive outlook ends, at least if the GOP nominee will be Trump. More on that in a moment.
The remaining battleground states are as follows: Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. The so-called rust belt states are, in my opinion, going to Trump in 2020. He and the GOP are doing a remarkable job in appealing to the working-class voters in those states. It would seem odd that a billionaire would be capable of such a feat, but there you go. If Trump is the GOP nominee again, then Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania fall into the Republican column. That's a total of 245 electoral votes, and it's just 25 away from clinching a win.
Based on 2016, and then last month's gubernatorial election, let's say Virginia goes blue again. That gives the Dems 225 electoral votes. The rest of the states are, frankly, toss-ups. Wisconsin has, overall, been trending Republican, and Iowa is difficult to pin down when it comes to presidential elections, but it went for Trump in 2016, so I'm going to put it in the GOP column again. That's 261 electoral votes for the Republican, just nine away from winning.
Maine split its electoral votes last time, and it's elected (and re-elected) a pretty bombastic Republican governor. And there's some funny business going on with New Hampshire's voting laws so, ever the pessimist, I'm going to put them both in the GOP camp, as well. That gives the Republican candidate 269 electoral votes. And it means that whoever the Democratic candidate is has to win both Florida and North Carolina. Florida, maybe, but North Carolina is a really tough state to crack for Democrats. It can be done, but it ain't easy.
So, let's be charitable and split the last two states: North Carolina goes to Trump/GOP candidate, Florida goes to the Democrat. That leaves us with a final Electoral College total of:
Trump/GOP - 284
Democrat - 254
I hope this map changes over the next two years and eleven months. Though if Trump is, again, the GOP nominee, then I think the rust belt states are very probably his. If it's someone other than Trump, then there may be a window of opportunity for the Democrats, but they'll need the right candidate. Or perhaps my whole map is bunk? Who knows? As I said earlier, if 2016 taught us anything, it's to never be too sure of anything.