Wednesday, July 31, 2019

What's the Insurgent Democratic Map to 270?

Periodically, I hear calls from the leftier edge of the Democratic Party that basically say that in the 2020 presidential election Democrats shouldn't try to pander to working class whites or "swing-y" affluent suburbs. Their path to victory is instead goosing turn out by their base -- urban progressives and people of color. Stop trying to win Ohio, and instead pick up Georgia.

Now, I'm decisively of the view that the strategy Democrats should adopt in the 2020 election is the one that wins them the presidency. That doesn't mean I'm adverse to this strategy, I just want to hear how it's supposed to work in practice. What route do these advocates had in mind to get Democrats to 270?

Let's stipulate that Democrats will keep all of Clinton's wins next time around. That's 232 electoral votes, so they need to gain another 38. Here is my list of all the states that I can imagine as even plausibly competitive:

Arizona - 11 EVs
Florida - 29 EVs
Georgia - 16 EVs
Indiana - 11 EVs
Iowa - 6 EVs
Maine (2nd District) - 1 EV
Michigan - 16 EVs
Nebraska (2nd District) - 1 EV
North Carolina - 15 EVs
Ohio - 18 EVs
Pennsylvania - 20 EVs
Texas - 38 EVs
Wisconsin - 11 EVs

The most traditional Democratic path to 270 is the "blue wall" that failed the last time around: Michigan (16), Pennsylvania (20), and Wisconsin (11). These all have the reputation of being kind of rust beltish, working class old-guard union states, and so presumably going after that trifecta is the strategy that's being criticized. And I think the critics have a point: you need all three to get to 38, and I'm on the record as being very bearish on Democrats' chances of taking Wisconsin back. So even if Democrats take Michigan and Pennsylvania, they need another three votes from somewhere.

So the question is -- is the strategy "Michigan + Pennsylvania + [somewhere else]" -- if so, what somewhere else? I can see either North Carolina or Arizona as the next most viable targets, but while neither is traditionally liberal turf, both are very different in terms of how Democrats might appeal.

Or is it a more radical departure? The "new southern" strategy, gets Democrats there via Florida + either North Carolina or Georgia. But I'm bearish on Florida too, and Georgia I think is still a pipe dream (let's remember that Stacey Abrams lost, and even if you think the reason she lost was because Kemp stole it, why would Kemp be less able to effectuate a theft now that he's in the governor's mansion?). Texas would win it for Democrats in one fell swoop, but I hardly want to put all my eggs in that basket.

But anyway, I'm digressing. If you're a proponent of the more "insurgent-style" Democratic brand of politics, what states do you think are the prime targets to flip in 2020? Even if you think you can put a huge amount of red turf into play, what, in your mind, are the juiciest targets? Is it still the "traditional" purple states like Wisconsin? Or is it a new path?

1 comment:

Benjamin Lewis said...

As a proponent of this strategy, I think the "Blue Wall that failed" absolutely are states we are targeting with this strategy. The Wall failed because* of insufficient voter mobilization (*necessary; obv Trumpism also contributed, but was insufficient), and aggressively progressive policies are a better recipe for strong mobilization than centrism targeting the 'median voter'. 'Median voter' is the GOP strategy to success, 'expand the electorate' is the Democratic strategy to success, and that is best done with robust progressivism, I think 'intersectional class-based analysis' is probably the best way to describe it. This reasoning follows pretty straight-forwardly from the pundit-recognized facts that 1) public opinion polls are more progressive than likely voter polls, and 2) Democrats do better when turnout is higher.

I have to run right now, so I will just dump a few generally relevant citations here. I will try to come back later/tomorrow to elaborate the argument more fully, both in general form and in Trump-specific form. Note also that

- meta-level data & analysis:
- tangential analysis, but with data specific to Blue wall states:
- simple analysis toward the claim: