How Trump Could Win in 2020
As crazy as it seems, given his historic unpopularity, Donald Trump could win re-election in 2020. If Democrats fail to minimize losses in rural areas, while simultaneously not running up a big enough margin in the suburbs and urban areas, Trump could again win the electoral college while losing the popular vote.
Here is the expanded battle ground map from 270towin.com
Disaster scenario for Democrats
Let's say that the sunbelt states aren't competitive, or at least break towards Trump in 2020. So this means Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina all go for the GOP.
Here is where the electoral college would stand.
Close for the GOP but not quite enough to win. Now let's assume, based on how the 2018 midterms played out that Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, and New Hampshire all go blue.
The 2018 midterms also surprised many pundits in just how red Iowa and Ohio appear to be now in the age of Trump. So let's assume Ohio and Iowa for the GOP. For good measure we'll also assume Nebraska goes full red and Maine goes full blue.
This puts Trump within striking distance of another electoral college victory with just 4 states still on the board. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania will be key to Democratic chances if they fail to pick up sunbelt states like Florida, Georgia, North Carolina or Arizona.
At 259 electoral college votes, Trump would only need 11 more electoral college votes to win. Which means just winning Michigan or Pennsylvania would do it, while still losing the other three.
Here are the 2016 results for these 4 states.
Hillary won Minnesota by 2..6% so it seems like a stretch to say Trump could win it in 2020. Trump won Pennsylvania by 0.7%, Wisconsin by 0.7%, and Michigan by 0.3%. Razor thin margins that could be very difficult to recreate.
But still, now he will be campaigning as President and his approval rating will probably increase as we get closer to the election.
So let's say he loses Michigan, since that was his closest win of the 4. Just winning Wisconsin wouldn't put him over the top. So that leaves Pennsylvania as the disaster scenario for Democrats.
If Democrats lose in the sunbelt, and somehow manage to lose Pennsylvania, then Trump will win again in 2020.
This doesn't seem like a crazy scenario to me. Although I think it's more likely that Trump loses in 2020, the candidate for the Democrats will matter greatly.
Would a more socially progressive, coastal candidate like Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker or Kamala Harris underperform in rural parts of the rust belt? It seems possible. This is why the safest bet for Democrats is someone like Joe Biden, Sherrod Brown or Amy Klobuchar, a midwestern Democrat who ensures there is no nightmare scenario in Pennsylvania.
With that said, there are more ways that Democrats can win. Let's say you pick a candidate like Kamala Harris, Corey Booker or Beto O'Rourke, perhaps they do better in the sunbelt and end the conversation all together, Winning in Arizona and Florida could give Democrats a resounding win in the electoral college and render the midwestern question less relevant.
Whatever happens in the Democratic primary will go a long way to deciding which disaster scenario is more plausible come election day.