All eyes are on the upcoming 2020 presidential election — including those of Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Public Policy’s Rachel Bitecofer. Following rousing success of a 2018 predictive model she produced that laid out Democrats gaining some 40 House seats in the midterm elections months before they actually took place — and while many others didn’t see something as high as a 40 seat gain as a possibility — Bitecofer is back with another model that predicts Donald Trump losing big time in 2020. Needing 27 to win, she estimates that Trump can only safely bet on some 197 electoral votes, while the Democratic Party’s nominee — whoever that ends up being — can count on about 278, with about 12 percent left as a toss-up that are unable to bridge that gap in Trump’s favor.
Bitecofer examined data like 2018 midterm election turnout and Trump’s approval rating among specific groups like independents to come to her conclusions. Importantly, in 2019 only about 35 percent of independents approve of the job Trump is doing in office. Based on data from the Midwest itself, Bitecofer’s model also rests in part on the relatively straightforward assumption that Democrats will be able to turn current political trends into a recapture of the support of states including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Thin leading margins in each one of these states were crucial to Trump’s fluke initial election victory. Without them, he gets nowhere; Bitecofer calls winning those states Trump’s “ONLY viable path… to win the White House.”
Bitecofer shares her key observation for what will drive the change:
‘The complacent electorate of 2016, who were convinced Trump would never be president, has been replaced with the terrified electorate of 2020, who are convinced he’s the Terminator and can’t be stopped. Under my model, that distinction is not only important, it is everything.’
She doesn’t even conclude that at least considering the majority of the Democratic Party’s candidates that it makes a big difference which one of them becomes the nominee, although she does note that if the party’s presidential/vice presidential offering “has a woman, a person of color or a Latino, or a female who is also a person of color, Democratic Party turnout will surge more in really important places.” California Senator Kamala Harris fits the bill of the female person of color she’s referring to; following a high-profile confrontation with frontrunner Joe Biden about the former vice president’s shaky at best past approach to race relations, she surged to second place in a CNN poll. That poll had her almost within a margin of error of Biden’s support itself.
Bitecofer notes that Biden — if he becomes the nominee — would do well to choose a running mate who represented the interests of minority communities and would thereby avoid Hillary Clinton’s pitfall of running on the “strength” of a ticket composed of her and a moderate profile white male Senator from Virginia.
Trump, of course — in line with his documented history of egomania — refuses to acknowledge he has a mountain to climb to get anywhere close to re-election. Confronted by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos about leaked polling numbers from his campaign showing him losing by big margins across the U.S., Trump insisted the numbers simply didn’t exist.
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