CNN reported on Tuesday that the Trump campaign is looking for ways to spend their huge campaign war chest and is taking a hard look at Oregon as a state to turn into a battleground in 2020. Trump lost Oregon by 11 points in 2016, and the state hasn’t voted Republican since 1984.
CNN obtained a memo to the Trump campaign from pollster Tony Fabrizio about ideas for “expanding the map” to give the President more options for getting the 270 electoral votes needed to win the re-election, where he mentions looking at Oregon.
In the memo, Fabrizio maintains that New Hampshire, New Mexico and Nevada — all states that Trump lost in 2016 — are now “highly competitive.” Those are three states where the Trump campaign already has resources on the ground.
Same goes for Minnesota, another state where Clinton beat Trump in 2016, but Fabrizio says to “keep an eye on” this cycle.
Oregon, however, is no-man’s-land for the national GOP. The last Republican to make an early play for Oregon was George W. Bush during his 2004 reelection bid, since he had come within 8,000 votes of Al Gore there in 2000. But Bush lost Oregon to John Kerry by 4 percentage points.
While Oregon seems like a lost cause, few people expected to see Trump win Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Michigan in 2016. Even Florida was considered unlikely for Trump with its high Hispanic population. Oregon Republican Party sources told CNN that there is an “undercurrent” of dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party because of growing economic and social problems in the state.
With the economy in great shape thanks to Trump, it makes perfect sense for his campaign to be working on expanding the map. Presidents who win reelection typically expand their coalition of voters (Obama is one exception, however) and having the resources to spend money on perceived longshots like Oregon is a sign that the Trump campaign has enough money on hand to test the waters in states that have been written off as being Democrat strongholds. And that should concern Democrats.
Matt Margolis is the author of The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama and the bestselling The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy, will be published in July 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis