Thursday, October 10, 2019

Trump Is Targeting Minnesota. Could He Succeed?

Not impossible but not very likely either. He had his usual demagogic rally in Minnesota Thursday and his campaign is apparently planning on spending tens of millions of dollars there in 2020 after having virtually nothing last time.
But make no mistake: this is a very heavy lift for him. Here's my take:
Hillary Clinton won Minnesota in 2016 by a narrow margin, just under 2 points. As has been widely noted, Democrats have now won the state in 11 straight presidential elections. The last time the Democrats lost in a presidential election in Minnesota was in 1972, when Richard Nixon wiped out George McGovern.
Democrats also had a strong election in 2018. They carried the House popular vote by 10 points (though they failed, on net, to flip any House seats). They also flipped 18 state legislative seats and captured control of the lower chamber. Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar won re-election in a landslide and, in an unusual second, special Senate election, Democratic Tina Smith won the seat easily by 11 points. In addition, Tim Walz held the governor’s office for the Democrats, also by 10 points.
The Democratic candidate in 2020 will seek to keep the Democratic streak going, while Minnesota, given the closeness of the 2016 result, will be on the short list of states that Trump targets to try to expand his coalition. This may be difficult; he is quite unpopular in the state, with a current negative net approval rating of -13 in Civiqs polling. This is quite bad.
Nonwhites were just 11 percent of Minnesota voters in 2016. Asians/other race were the largest nonwhite group at 4.5 percent and they supported Clinton 50-36 percent. Blacks were 4.3 percent of voters and went heavily for Clinton by 90-6 percent. Hispanics were just 2 percent of voters and supported Clinton 61-30 percent. In addition, white college graduates, an unusually large 36 percent of voters, backed Clinton by 22 points. The bright spot for Trump was white non-college voters, 54 percent of the voting electorate, who favored him by 21 points.
Blacks, Hispanics and Asians/other race should all increase as a share of eligible voters in 2020 by .4, .5 and .7 points, respectively. White college eligible voters should also go up .4 points. The declining group will be white non-college, who should decline by just over 2 points. All these changes are net favorable for the Democrats.
The logical strategic choice for Trump would be to enhance his 21-point margin among white non-college voters from 2016. A 10-point margin shift in Trump’s direction among this demographic group would result, all else remaining the same, in a 3-point GOP victory. A more difficult target would be to reduce his deficit among white college voters by 10 points; that would result in a narrow 1-point victory for him.
The Democratic candidate could expand Clinton’s margin by a point simply by holding Democratic margins at their 2016 levels, due to underlying demographic changes in the eligible electorate. They will certainly try to expand their already gaudy lead among white college graduates. But the most effective move would be to get their white non-college margin back to where it was in 2012; that would result in a nearly 10-point Democratic victory, all else remaining the same.
A glance at the Catailst stats for 2018 suggests that a Trump surge among white noncollege voters does not appear particularly likely in 2020. In 2018, white noncollege support surged toward the Democrats and away from the GOP. In the governor's race (Klobuchar's Senate race was a complete blowout) Democrat Tim Walz' support among white noncollege voters was was 9 points better than Clinton's in 2016 and among white noncollege women his support was exactly the same as Obama's in his easy 2012 victory--he carried them by 6 points.
So, again, a Trump victory in Minnesota certainly could happen. But it appears very, very unlikely.
About this website
The president lost the state by less than 45,000 votes in 2016, despite barely campaigning there. He holds a rally in Minneapolis Thursday night.

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