Benjamin McDonald

How could Trump lose in 2020? After a shocking loss in 2016, the focus for Democrats in 2020 must lie in vital swing states. 

The 2020 presidential election is just over a year away and many are speculating how Donald Trump could lose his reelection bid. 

Predicting this far out is difficult primarily because of all of the unknowns. The Iowa caucuses aren’t until February and the first general election debate is not until September. It is also unclear how far the impeachment proceedings will go as well as what effect they will have on the electorate. 

Every political pundit is trying to give their opinion on who they think will win and what Democratic candidate is the “most electable” when polls show almost any candidate leading in a head-to -head race.

The problem with judging candidates off of “head-to-head” polls is that they are based off of the popular vote which Trump could lose and win the election. Even if Trump wins reelection it is almost guaranteed that he will do it by losing the popular vote.

NBC News released an analysis where Trump could lose the popular vote by 2 million more than he did to Hillary Clinton and still win the election.

What should be speculated on is how Democrats may learn from the failures of their 2016 presidential race and tweak the strategy going into campaign season as well as problems that could come up for Trump.

As a result of our political system, many people vote straight ticket no matter the candidate and as such the strategy is more important than one person.

Clinton may have won the popular vote in 2016, but the fact of the matter is that she lost the key swing states that she needed and they swung the election for Trump.

As a result of the Electoral College system, whether good or bad, the fact is that most states are not going to be competitive in 2020 and rather it will be in the hands of a few states to decide the election.

A football team can have more yards than the opposition and still lose the game if it does not score enough points and Democrats would be mindful to remember this as the general election nears.

In Clinton’s book “What Happened” she notes, “If just 40,000 people across Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania had changed their minds, I would have won.”

If Democrats are to win then they need to focus on Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. All states that Clinton lost in 2016.

Candidates need 270 electoral votes to win and Clinton received 232 of them. Clinton lost Florida by just over 100,000 and Pennsylvania by 25,000. Both of these results can be flipped if Democrats motivate voters enough to show up at the polls.

When speculating about the 2020 election everyone must remember that what we all know is that none of us really know anything. Weeks before the 2016 election, The New York Times gave Clinton a 91% chance to win the election and everyone knows what happened a month later.

Trump’s best case going into the election is the strength of the economy. In a CNN poll from the spring, 71% of Americans think the economy is good and an August NBC/WSJ poll showed that 49% of people approve of how Trump is handling the economy against 46% that disapprove. However, that same poll showed that 64% of Americans support free trade and Trump’s focus on tariffs could cause attitudes toward the economy to shift.

The main thing to follow going into 2020 is how the impeachment proceedings play out. However, at the end of the day, there is an old quote in politics stating that people vote with their wallets and Trump is able to convince people of his economic successes then it will be an uphill climb for any Democrat.

People can complain about the problems with our electoral system and how it affects campaigning, but reality is there is no systemic change coming before 2020 and if Democrats want to win, they need to focus on getting more touchdowns. Voter turnout in the swing states that Clinton lost will be key for both sides’ chance of winning.

Benjamin McDonald is a contributor.

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