President Donald J. Trump (R-Florida) has a short and simple road to reelection. However, Trump’s enemies fill that road with land mines, enemy snipers, and machine-gun nests.
Therefore, Trump’s route to reelection resembles a World War One battlefield. The route to victory is short, a few hundred yards, but to cross those yards soldiers had to get past barbed wire, artillery barrages, mortars, sniper fire, land mines, poison gas, and machine gun fire.
World War One soldiers called the path to victory “no-man’s-land,” because nobody survived it.
The States Trump Needs
To win in 2020, I think Trump needs to carry eight states; Texas, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina. If Trump loses any of those states, I think he will fail.
Specifically, Trump needs Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida, because of the large number of Electoral College Votes they can deliver. Texas; for example, will have 38 Electoral College votes in 2020, the National Archives estimates.
Meanwhile, Georgia will have 16 Electoral College votes, and Florida will have 29 Electoral College votes. Finally, North Carolina offers 15 Electoral votes.
If Trump loses two of those states, I think it will be game over. Moreover, I cannot see Trump winning without Texas and Florida. Those two states will deliver 67 Electoral College votes in 2020. If Democrats win in either Florida or Texas, Trump will star in The New Celebrity Apprentice for the Fall 2021 TV season.
Why Trump Needs Texas and Florida
The good news for Trump is that historically Texas has been a Republican bastion. However, Florida is unpredictable. Democrats carried Florida in 2008 and 2012 but lost in 2016. Remember, it was the controversial Florida election that gave George W. Bush (R-Texas) victory without a popular majority in 2000.
Thus, Florida will be Trump’s biggest headache in 2020, but Texas could be problematic. The Republican share of the Texas vote is shrinking, Vox notes. In 2012, Senator Mitt Romney (R-Massachusetts) beat President Barack Obama (D-Illinois) by a margin of 16%.
However Trump beat Hillary R. Clinton (D-New York) by a margin of 9%. Thus, Republicans lost 7% of their support in Texas in four years. If that trend repeats in 2020, Trump will still win Texas by 2%. However, Democrats could win Texas in 2024, if current trends persist.
Consequently, Trump will need to focus a lot of resources on Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida. The Donald will spend a lot of time and money in those four states.
However, Trump could theoretically lose North Carolina or Georgia and still win reelection. To explain, Trump does not need Georgia or North Carolina, if he carries the rest of the eight states.
The States that Could Reelect Trump
Outside the Big Four, Trump will need to carry Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Hence the Donald needs to sweep the rust belt to return to the White House.
In 2016, it was narrow victories in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Wisconsin that put Trump over the top. For instance, Trump carried Wisconsin by 22,748 votes, The New York Times estimates. Meanwhile, Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes, and Pennsylvania by 44,292 votes.
Under these circumstances, Trump’s victory will rest on Republican get-out-the-vote efforts and voter suppression. If either of those efforts falters, the Donald goes home to Mira Largo in January 2021.
The Battle for the Rust Belt
Interestingly, Democrats did well in Wisconsin and Michigan in 2018. For instance, Democrats won the Michigan governor’s race by a margin of 53.3% to 43.7%, and the US Senate seat by 52.3%, Politico estimates. Thus, Michigan appears hostile to Trump in 2020.
Meanwhile, Democrats won the U.S. Senate seat in Wisconsin by a margin of 56% to 45%, and the governorship by 50% to 48% in 2018, NPR estimates. Thus, I think Wisconsin will be competitive in 2020 but Michigan will not.
Ohio could be even worse because that state elected a Democratic Senator and a Republican governor in 2018. Politico estimates Ohio voters elected Mike DeWine (R) Governor by a margin of 50.4% to 46.7%. However, the same voters sent Sherrod Brown (D) to the Senate with a vote of 53.4% to 46.6%.
Thus the Rust Belt will be a brutal battlefield in 2020. I do not think Trump will win without a high turnout of white males in the Rust Belt next year. To achieve that Trump needs to mobilize two fascinating subgroups of voters. However, Trump is a master of mobilizing those voters.
The Voters Trump Will Need
Trump’s electoral success rests on his ability to bring out two interesting groups of voters. I classify those groups as Scared White Christians and Fuck-the-Establishment voters.
Scared White Christians fear America is a post-Christian nation. In addition, some people fear white Christians will become a persecuted minority in America.
Vox’s Ezra Klein believes demographics drives Scared White Christians’ fears. In particular, the speed at which white Christian America is shrinking scares some people.
Scared White Christians for Trump
Klein notes that Pew Research estimates 54% of Americans were white and Christian in 2009 when Barack Obama (D-Illinois) entered the White House. However, only 43% of Americans were White and Christian when Donald J. Trump entered the White House in 2017, just eight years later.
I estimate America could have a non-Christian majority by 2039, if America’s Christian population keeps shrinking at the rate Pew found. For instance, Pew found 78% of Americans identified as “Christian” in 2009. By 2018; however, 65% of Americans called themselves “Christians.”
Thus, Pew estimates the percentage of Christians in America fell by 13% in nine years. If that trend continues the percentage of Christians in America could fall to 52% in 2029 and 39% in 2039. Consequently, 61% of Americans could be non-Christian by 2039.
Why Scared White Christians vote for Trump
Under those circumstances, many Christians want an aggressive protector in the White House. They think Trump; whom they (wrongly) view as a New York street fighter is that protector.
Those Christians believe Trump is tough, strong, aggressive, and ruthless. In addition, they think he will fight aggressively for “white America.” Klein thinks Trump panders to such individuals’ fears.
For example, The Washington Post; hardly a friend of the White House, observes “The Trump administration fans out to defend Christianity across the political spectrum.” Consequently, some Christians such as The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher think Trump protects religious liberty by appointing conservative federal judges.
Donald J. Trump Defender of Christian Civilization
In a recent column, Dreher writes: “I think all of the Democrats running for president are far more personally decent than the jackass who made fun of Debbie Dingell’s dead husband the other day.”
“But all of them are for keeping it legal to exterminate the unborn, and to compel religious institutions to accept gender ideology,” Dreher writes. “Nope, I’ll take the personally corrupt short-fingered vulgarian, and won’t apologize for it.”
I think Trump brilliantly appeals to people such as Dreher by playing to their fears. In particular, Trump appeases such individuals by making a few moves to protect what Dreher and company see as “Christian civilization.”
For instance, the Trump administration is trying to stop federally-funded clinics from referring women to abortionists in violation of the First Amendment, the Associated Press reports.
Trump and the Fuck the Establishment Vote
The other group of voters Trump appeals to is more diverse and harder to pin down. I call that group the “Fuck-the-Establishment Voters” because that is what those voters want to do.
To clarify, those who believe the establishment has fucked them so they want to screw it back. Or more precisely they believe the establishment has wronged them so they want to strike back. An obvious way for such voters to strike back is to vote for anti-establishment candidates such as Trump.
I think many Fuck-the-Establishment voters believe Trump is a corrupt and incompetent clown and an asshole. Those people voted for Donald because they believe he will hurt the establishment.
Unlike, the Scared White Christians, the Fuck-the-Establishment voters have no coherent ideology or world view. Instead, those voters are a collection of angry and frustrated people who are mostly male.
Meet the FTE Voters
A typical “Fuck-the-Establishment” (FTE) voter is a middle-aged working-class white man who has seen his high-paying factory job vanish. Another example of an FTE voter is a 30-year-old white male who believes he will never have a good job or a significant amount of money.
A more interesting example of the FTE voter is a leftist angry at Democrats for not nominating his hero Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) for president. Other FTE voters could include black men frustrated by racism and police shootings, and the alt-right.
The FTE voters threaten Trump because they have no loyalty to anybody and no faith in anything. Unlike, the scared white Christian, the FTE voter will vote Democratic if he thinks it will hurt the system and screw the man.
Many FTE voters respond to Trump because the establishment hates the Donald. Thus, a great way for Democrats to steal FTE voters is to paint Trump as the establishment.
The Voters who can cost Trump the White House
Another way Democrats can snatch the FTE vote is to pick a candidate the establishment hates more than Trump. That person is U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).
Sanders tell the FTEs what they want to hear, that the Billionaire Class has fucked them. Bernie then tells the FTEs how he plans to screw the Billionaire Class on their behalf.
Hence, the FTEs’ concerns are economic; they believe the elite is rigging America’s economy against them. Meanwhile, the scared white Christians’ concerns are cultural, the Scared White Christians believe the secularist elite is trying to destroy them and their faith.
Therefore, I think Trump’s reelection focus needs to be on the FTEs because they will abandon him. I think scared Christians; such as Dreher, have made their choice and will stick by Trump come hell or high-water. However,the FTEs are still undecided and many of them are looking for alternatives to Trump.
Three Democrats who could Beat Trump
Under these circumstances I think there are three Democratic candidates who could beat Trump in 2020. Those candidates are Sanders, Andrew Yang (D-New York), and Michael Bloomberg (?-New York).
How Bernie could beat Trump
I think Bernie could defeat Trump because there is data showing large numbers of Sanders voters supported the Donald in 2016. Polling data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, shows 12% of Bernie’s primary voters backed Trump in the general election. National Public Radio claims.
Thus there is data showing the FTE voters exist and exposing how those voters helped Trump in 2016. Unfortunately, nobody knows how the FTE crowd will vote next year.
Although, I suspect most of them will favor Bernie to Trump. On the other hand, I cannot picture the FTE voters supporting either former Vice President Joe Biden (D-Delaware) or U.S. Senator Liz Warren (D-Massachusetts).
How Andrew Yang could beat Trump
Businessman turned basic income advocate Andrew Yang poses a greater problem for Trump for two reasons. First, Yang is an unknown, so he is hard to fathom.
Second, Yang has a strong appeal to many Trump voters. In particular, Yang targets young male voters with events such as Yangapalooza. In addition, Yang has an army of FTEs; the media calls the Yang Gang. on his side.
A typical Yang Gang Member is Kansas City resident Jesse Hart who tells Iowa Starting Line; “I was going to vote last cycle for Trump, but I did not register.” Tellingly, Iowa Starting Line interviewed Hart at Yangapalooza in Des Moines on 5 November 2019.
One reason why Yang appeals to men; such as Hart. is that Yang’s message is even darker than Trump’s. Essentially, Yang says “robots and artificial intelligence will kill most of the jobs. Therefore, America needs to establish a basic income; the Freedom Dividend, to keep ordinary people from starving to death.”
Hence, Trump cannot compete with Yang in the gloom and doom battle. Walls or tariffs could stop Trump’s demons; China and immigration. In contrast, Yang’s demons; technology and progress, are faceless and unstoppable forces. Yang wins by conceding defeat in the war between humans and technology, then offering a third way out.
Yang’s message gets through because many voters believe it in their guts. Other Democrats; such as Liz Warren, cannot compete because they appeal to reason.
In common with Sanders, Yang could steal a large percentage of the FTE vote. Moreover, establishment attacks on Yang will make him more appealing to the FTEs. Remember, all the establishment attacks on Trump in 2016, increased the Donald’s appeal to the” deplorables.”
The Enigma of Michael Bloomberg
Bloomberg; who entered the race late, is the most enigmatic Democratic candidate. Yet I think Bloomberg can appeal to many Trump voters.
First, Bloomberg can pass himself as a tough New Yorker who is ready to fight for “middle-class” (read white) Americans. Importantly, Bloomberg is already doing that in campaign ads.
Thus Bloomberg appeals to the same authoritarian instincts and bigotry that motivate Trump’s base. Conversely, Bloomberg is a kinder, gentler candidate who can appeal to groups Trump offends. For instance, soccer moms; who hate Trump’s vulgarity and misogyny, but a want a tough fighter on their side.
In addition, Bloomberg appeals straight to middle -lass fears about crime, guns, and violence. Bloomberg trumps the Donald by appealing to middle-class fears of both poor whites and blacks with his gun-control crusade.
Bloomberg’s message is “I’ll take the guns away from both the blacks and the ignorant rednecks.” My brother jokes that Bloomberg’s real policy is “put the hillbillies in jail where they belong.”
Sadly, that message will have broad appeal in suburbia. In addition, Bloomberg plays to fears of Climate Change by promising what amounts to a war on big business in his television spots.
I think Bloomberg will have a strong appeal to traditional Republican voters who reluctantly support Trump. That includes suburban soccer moms and the country club set. In addition, Bloomberg will get some racist votes. Particularly closeted white racists whom Trump’s open racism scares.
How Bloomberg could Out Trump Trump
If Bloomberg is smart, he needs to make a strong appeal to Scared White Christians and religious conservatives now. I think promising to adopt Trump’s defend religious liberty at all costs mantra could be a wise move for Bloomberg.
In particular, Bloomberg can capitalize on his status as a Jew by trumpeting his support of Israel. Additionally, Bloomberg can say “as a Jew I understand why religious liberty is important and I will defend it.”
This strategy will not endure Bloomberg to Democrats but I think it will have a strong appeal in the Heartland. One way Bloomberg can use this strategy is to call anybody who attacks him an Anti-Semite and a Nazi.
Another is to promise to defend the churches from the gun-toting lunatics. For example, run ads showing Satanists, Neo-nazis, or Islamic radicals stockpiling guns and preparing to attack a church.
I don’t know how Trump could react to such strategies but they will have strong appeals to some voters. Remember, fear sells in our politics. A man who promised to protect white America from Mexican rapists won the last presidential election.
A Dark and Nasty Election
Bloomberg could ratchet up the hysteria level to new heights by going places Trump cannot.
For example, Bloomberg can cite fears of Climate Change and guns on the campaign trail and claim he is protecting our children from those evils. If Trump attacks Bloomberg, the ex-Mayor can say, “see the evil Trump hates your children because he supports guns and climate change.”
Thus, any campaign featuring Michael Bloomberg, will be dark and nasty. Only time will tell if Bloomberg can be dark enough and nasty enough to win both the Democratic primary and the general election.
Notably, Bloomberg will need to get past two candidates who are masters of being dark without the nasty; Sanders and Yang. I do not think Bloomberg can do that.
President Trump faces a tough road to reelection. That road will run through some dark and nasty territory. Hopefully, Trump’s reelection efforts and his opponents’ opposition will not make America a dark and nasty place.