Wargaming the Electoral College: Can Any Democrat Scale Trump's Red Wall?

Is it all over but the four more years of hysterical shrieking?

I’m a charter member of Club Don’t Get Cocky™ when it comes to presidential elections, and anyone who believes the Democrats won’t cheat needs to sit down with me over a few martinis and get their mind cleared.

But at last night’s Democratic presidential debate, I could have sworn I saw Joe Biden toss the election. And not just for himself, should he win the nomination, but for any Democrat at the top of the ticket.

Before we get to that though, let’s look at the Electoral College battlefield as it’s shaped up since my Preview Edition of the Wargaming series back in September. At the time, Jared Kushner had promised that Trump 2020 would contest 18 battleground states, which is actually a yuge number when you look at the Red State/Blue State chasm. I could only ID 17 of those battlegrounds, and here they are:

Last time, I took that map and showed you how Trump could run up the numbers well past 270. Let’s do something a bit different today: Let’s see how the Democratic nominee could reach the magic number… without Pennsylvania.

I’m coloring in PA red, permanently for 2020, or until some Democrat comes along to fully rebuke something Biden said last night and then also wins the nomination.

Here’s how, in my estimation, Biden turned PA red again without Trump having to lift a short finger:

You heard that right: Without hesitation, Biden just signaled that he’d sacrifice thousands or even hundreds of thousands of high-paying, blue-collar jobs in the fracking industry on the altar of environmental correctness. And not one other Democrat on that stage stood up for those guys working the Marcellus Shale up and down PA. Or for their families dependent on those fracking paychecks. Or for all the service workers who finally have people to serve again, after the virtual hollowing out of the steel industry.

Party of the workingman, my rear end. Former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon was quoted the other day claiming, “We’ve turned the Republican Party into a working-class party.” If that’s true, the thanks are due as much to the Democrats for shooting themselves in the foot as they are due to Team Trump.

If you thought Trump still had Ohio in the bag (and he almost certainly does), how are the Dems going to win back Pennsylvania after promising to shut down the best thing to happen there since the ’70s Steelers?

Which brings us to today’s wargaming problem: Getting the Democratic ticket to 270 without Pennsylvania.

For that, let’s go to 270toWin‘s electoral college tool and map it out.

Aside from painting PA red, I’ve made an assumption here that might not hold all the way until November, but which doesn’t affect the outcome of today’s problem. I’ve marked Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, and New Mexico as Leans Dem, although in a blowout year Trump could win one or more of those states. But all that would do is magnify the size of Trump’s victory, rather than determine the victor.

So how does the Democratic nominee win on this playing field? 270toWin has an automated calculator to help us out:

Under this scenario, nobody needs Iowa, which would be a blessing to voters in that state. If I had to guess, after months of caucus BS, they’d be more than happy to be ignored during the general election. Wouldn’t you be? Also notice that Trump has no must-win states. But without PA, the Dem nominee must, by the numbers, win Florida. Or it’s all over.

Trump won Florida in 2016 by a comfortable 1.2 percentage points. And that’s when he was heavily outgunned by Hillary Clinton’s huge war chest. If anything, Florida has trended slightly redder since then, and this shampeachment nonsense has motivated Trump donors to give like never before.

Does that mean it’s in the bag for Trump? Of course not: So don’t get cocky!

But the progressive Dems’ adherence to a radical Gaideology (I think I just coined that word, a mashup of “Gaia” and “ideology”) has handed Trump the perfect wedge issue to shove between the Democratic nominee and the very same Obama-to-Trump blue-collar voters they’ll need to win back.

The usual disclaimers apply: A lot can change between now and Election Day, Trump will have to overcome the margin of cheating, and also I drink. But after last night, I am feeling a sense of pleasant confidence.

We’ll do this again in February, after the Dem candidates have gone through a couple of primary and caucus votes. Maybe then we can suss out with a little more confidence how they’re doing with the workingman wing.

Stay tuned…


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