The news from the Rustbelt continues to be very poor for the GOP--yet this is the region that sent Donald Trump to the White House. What's going on?
Here's a snippet from Thomas Edsall's Times' column on the Rustbelt:
"Nate Silver, the founder of the political website 538, tweeted:
'By far the Democrats’ strongest region in Senate + Gov + House polling has been the Midwest, and I don’t think you’d really gather that from the tonality of the reporting, which tends to fixate on demographic change and therefore finds races in the South & the West a lot sexier.'
According to both Democratic and Republican operatives, Republican difficulties in the region stem in part from the trend among many Obama 2012-to-Trump-2016 voters to switch back to the Democrats.
Nick Gourevitch, whose Democratic firm, Global Strategy Group, is polling in the Midwest, wrote in an email: “In general, we are seeing Obama-Trump districts returning to the fold as competitive seats.” He went on:
"Our postelection research on Obama-Trump voters showed that many of them were conflicted voters who had mixed feelings about supporting the president and that not all of them were the die-hard Trump supporters some in the media like to report them to be."
Huh. So maybe all those Obama-Trump voters aren't hopeless racists the Democrats are better off ignoring.
Martin Longman adds on the Washington Monthly blog:
"Trump’s victory came about because he surprisingly won Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin which were all considered part of an impenetrable blue wall for the Democrats, but the Democrats look extremely strong in both the senate and governor’s races in all three of those states.
This can’t be explained by demographic change and it isn’t based solely on turnout models and assumptions. A lot of Democrats who voted for Trump in the industrial Midwest just have no intention of voting for a Republican in the upcoming midterms.....
It’s the formerly blue element that distinguishes the Midwest from other Trump strongholds. Many midwestern lifelong Democrats were attracted to Trump precisely because he was taking a battle-ax to the Republican establishment and so it’s unsurprising that these voters won’t transfer their loyalty from Trump to down-ticket conservatives. Because of union membership and socioeconomic status and tradition, these voters having been voting against Republicans all their lives. They made an exception for Trump and many still support him. Some will even vote for candidates that promise to help the president or that Trump has explicitly endorsed. But the snapback comes from the fact that most longtime Democrats supported Trump but not the party he leads."
And a new Politico/AARP poll of Pennsylvania finds:
"Pennsylvania was the linchpin of Donald Trump’s 2016 victory, but it could be ground zero of Democrats’ 2018 comeback. Not only are the incumbent Democratic senator and governor prohibitive favorites to win reelection, but Democrats could also pick up as many as a half-dozen congressional seats — roughly a quarter of the seats the party needs nationwide to win back the House.
Fewer than two years after Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to carry Pennsylvania since 1988, a new POLITICO/AARP poll shows both Sen. Bob Casey and Gov. Tom Wolf with double-digit leads over their GOP challengers. And Democrats have a slight edge on the generic congressional ballot — which, combined with a new, court-imposed congressional-district map unwinding GOP gerrymandering, portends major gains in next month‘s elections."
This is a trend to keep an eye on. Not only will it be key to Democrats' results in 2018 but sustaining it will be central to defeating Trump in 2020. In fact, you could reasonably say if the Democrats can sustain this momentum in the Midwest/Rustbelt through 2020 their chances of defeating Trump will be very good indeed. Of course, Trump will pull out all the stops to reach voters in this area of the country in the next two years and he will by no means be easy to defeat. But developments this year could make for a very promising beginning for Project Trump One Term President.
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