Kira Davis recently wrote at RedState that Donald Trump could flip California and win the popular vote there in 2020. This, she argues, would also have an effect on down-ballot races and put the state legislature in play for Republican candidates. It seems far-fetched on the surface. If you examine the policy issues, however, a pathway begins to emerge. As an Oregon resident, that idea got me thinking — could the Trump campaign adopt policy messaging that could have a similar effect on other states that went blue in 2016? Let’s take a look at a possible roadmap for the Trump campaign to pick up more states in 2020.
Donald Trump won the Electoral College in 2016, 304-232. Several states went for Hillary Clinton that could end up in play in 2020. Kira tweeted this the other day, and that got my wheels spinning:
He could massively help Oregon too.
— jeffery reynolds (@ChargerJeff) March 9, 2020
First, Joe Biden siding with public employee unions over workers’ rights is even more absurd than Hillary and Bernie opposing ridesharing in 2016. Talk about not getting it. The destruction of independent contract work has faced a massive backlash that transcends differences between Republicans and Democrats.
Trump’s biggest strength, along with completely owning the media, lies in his populist message that speaks directly to voters without first being filtered through party apparatchiks and spinmeisters. If he were to use this strength to voice support for the common voter in opposition to the liberal elite, he could win more voters and potentially pick up more states in the Electoral College. This would also bolster the chances of Republican candidates down-ballot who could pick up on messaging cues from the Trump campaign.
So, what would that roadmap look like?
Several states that went blue also have Democratic legislative majorities that have created all sorts of harmful policies that hurt job creation and the prosperity of voters. By directly embracing the needs of the voters, Trump could conceivably change both the electoral college results and the makeup of state legislatures for years to come.
Virginia went for Hillary in 2016 and added Democratic majorities in both houses of its legislature in 2019. An all-out assault on gun rights has ensued. I wrote last week that this could create a backlash this year. In seemingly every rally, President Trump makes a forceful defense of the Second Amendment. He knows this issue crosses party lines. Indeed, his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, has kept stats on the attendees at Trump rallies. Upwards of one-third, or possibly even more, of the attendees were non-Republicans. Many didn’t vote at all in 2016. When Trump talks gun rights, he speaks not just to Republicans, but to all voters. This could have a big effect on Virginia, which always stood as a bastion for gun rights prior to the recent Democratic takeover. Virginia has 13 electoral votes.
While at CPAC, Parscale also talked about Minnesota, which the Trump campaign barely lost in 2016. The campaign has tremendous resources and has put a bunch of money and staff into that state. Minnesota has ten electoral votes.
California represents the largest failure of liberal policies in the Union. Homelessness, AB5 (the independent contract work destruction bill), illegal immigrants overwhelming the welfare state, crushing taxes, and what Victor Davis Hanson described as the deliberate destruction of the middle class — California is not just Trump’s bête noire, it’s also his greatest opportunity. As Kira Davis wrote,
I’ve never seen so many Californians willing and eager to cross the aisle to vote Republican as I have in the last two months. There are many who will back me up on this.
Do they want to vote for the California GOP? No. Do they want to vote for Trump? No. That being said, more than anything they want to be heard and since the California Democrats are willfully ignoring their voices, many feel a GOP vote will be the only way to make an impact. They’ll go back to voting for the party they love and are loyal to, but they’re for sure not going back to it if they don’t have jobs or are forced to move out of state because of AB5.
Realistic? Maybe. Unlikely? Extremely. Impossible? It looks less and less so all the time. California has the motherlode, 55 electoral votes.
Rumors have swirled for months that the Trump campaign has also considered putting resources into Oregon. One-party rule for the better part of three decades has led to a feeling of desperation among Oregon Republicans. There are several signs, however, that Republican legislators and activists are ready to fight back in ways rarely seen in this state. A Republican, Dennis Richardson, won election as Secretary of State in 2016, in the first Republican statewide election win in over 35 years. Republican members of the Senate and House walked out of the legislative session in 2020 with two weeks to go, to deny quorum and shut down the cap-and-trade bill. Massive new grassroots movements sprung up in 2019, including Oregonians for Medical Freedom, Slavic Vote, the Russian Old Believers Community, gun owners resisting confiscation bills, and Timber Unity. Harnessing all this new energy could lead to a groundswell of support. Trump could bolster this with pro-worker and pro-freedom messaging, especially as he continues to reject climate change hysteria. Oregon has seven electoral votes.
About a million years ago (give or take), Ronald Reagan ran for reelection during a historic period of economic growth on the strength of a media-savvy personality and popular policies that led to military dominance and prosperity for most Americans. He ran against a sacrificial Democrat nominee who failed to make the case that America should fire the incumbent.
The result? 525 electoral votes to 13.
The America of 2020 is far too divided to match the 1984 results. Nevertheless, what if he were to pick up New Hampshire’s four electoral votes, or the two statewide electoral votes in Maine or Colorado (9), or Nevada (6)? If Trump embraces state-level messaging and policies that affect the everyday lives of voters, why couldn’t he expand the map? After all, nobody could have expected Michigan to go for Reagan over Mondale 59%-40, but it happened.
It won’t hurt to think big and ponder what happens if the Trump campaign, embracing patriotism while running against a fringe Democrat nominee, with radical and unpopular ideas, who will turn 80 during the next presidential term, can expand the map and put more states in play. The effort could yield fruit far beyond the 2020 election.
Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available now at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff.