Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Could Arizona Be the Key to the 2020 Election?

Bill Galston thinks so in his analysis of the electoral landscape based on (what else?) my new report.
"Mr. Trump is in trouble in two of the states he narrowly dislodged from the Blue Wall in 2016. His job approval rating stands at minus-7 in Michigan and minus-10 in Pennsylvania. In Michigan last fall, Democrats easily won senatorial and gubernatorial races, flipped two House seats and carried the House popular vote by 8 points. In Pennsylvania, the incumbent Democratic governor and senator were re-elected by double-digit margins, and Democrats increased their House delegation by three seats while winning the House popular vote by 10 points. In both states, the shrinking share of noncollege white voters will make Mr. Trump’s climb steeper.....
[A]lthough Mr. Trump is doing reasonably well in Wisconsin, the third Blue Wall state he carried in 2016, he is in danger of losing Arizona, a traditionally Republican state. Mr. Trump’s job approval stands at 47% in Wisconsin, for an overall rating of minus-3, compared with 45% and minus-8 in Arizona. In troubling signs for Republicans, Arizona sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 2018 for the first time in 30 years, and white noncollege voters’ share of the 2020 Arizona electorate is projected to decline by nearly 3 points from 2016.
Arizona could prove crucial next year. To reach 270 electoral votes, the Democratic presidential nominee needs to improve on Hillary Clinton’s performance by at least 38 electoral votes. Victories in Pennsylvania and Michigan would leave the Democrats two votes short, and Arizona’s 11 electoral votes could fill the gap if Mr. Trump prevails again in Wisconsin and Iowa. (Messrs. Teixeira and Halpin suggest Democrats’ prospects in Georgia and North Carolina are not as promising as in Arizona.)"
A little more detail on Arizona. Arizona has a substantial nonwhite population though, as with Texas, it is somewhat less represented among actual voters. In 2016, nonwhites made up 27 percent of voters in the state in 2016—17 percent Hispanic, 6 percent Asian/other race (including Native American) and just 4 percent Black. Hispanics supported Clinton by 36 points, Blacks by 52 points and Asians/other race by 8 points. Arizona’s white college graduates (30 percent of voters) supported Trump only narrowly, by 47-46 percent, while non-college whites, 44 percent of voters, backed him by 27 points, 60-33 percent.
We expect white non-college eligible voters in 2020 to decline by almost 3 points relative to 2016, while white college graduate eligible voters should remain stable. Black eligible voters should also remain roughly stable, while Hispanics should go up over 2 points and Asians/other race by half a point. These changes in the underlying demographic structure of the electorate are enough to knock a point off Trump’s advantage in 2020, even if voting patterns from 2016 remain in force.
Given the narrowness of Trump’s victory in 2016, and the projected deterioration in his margin from demographic change, Trump needs, at minimum, to hold his 2016 levels of support from various demographic groups. His most effective safeguard against losing the state would be to increase his support among his friendliest group, white non-college voters. A 10-point margin shift in his favor among these voters would take his projected advantage in the state up to 7 points, all other voting patterns remaining the same.
For the Democratic candidate, a winning coalition could be assembled in several different ways. A 10-point pro-Democratic margin shift among white college graduates (going from -1 to +9 points) would be enough to generate a half point victory in the state. A 15-point pro-Democratic swing among Hispanics, Asians and those of other race, would be even more effective, taking the victory margin over a point. And a 10-point pro-Democratic margin shift among white non-college voters would take the Democratic candidate’s advantage to just under 2 points. Given that a number of trends seen in 2018 were consistent with these possible changes and that Trump’s margin in 2016 was already so thin, Trump may have difficulty holding on to the state in 2020.
In short, Arizona is an excellent hedge for the Democrats against falling short in Wisconsin. I expect a commensurate level of attention from the Democratic nominee's campaign.
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The Democrats’ most comfortable path to victory runs through Mesa, not Milwaukee.

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