TRUMP'S PURPLE PROBLEM
Is Trump's Republican firewall bleeding blue?
This week we saw a surge in cases of COVID-19, a surge that the President, and perhaps his most ardent supporters, has shrugged off as a result of increased testing, the latest in Trump's spin of facts that so clearly reveal his lack of leadership into a ridiculous stretch of his "victory." But the majority of the American public understands that this crisis is serious, many for the first time.
In Texas, the daily infection rate has increased by 129% since May. In Florida, it has increased by 184% since that same time. And Arizona, not to be outdone, has seen an increase of 320% since last month. And as the U.S. saw the nation-wide numbers increase to 40,000 daily cases, with 2.5 million infected, it cowered and shrouded itself in embarrassment of a president who attributed the increase to testing, when testing has increased by barely a quarter of the rate that the virus has spread in Texas and Florida. Trump loyalists like Governors Ron DeSantis (FL), Greg Abbott (TX), and Doug Ducey (AZ) have all paused reopening, walking the tightrope between breaking with an increasingly unpopular president and saving the lives of their constituents.
If you visit 270 to Win, you can plug in different electoral scenarios for November, pretending that Trump wins this state or that state, and watching the electoral college fall to one side or the other depending on the hypothetical outcomes. The data is built into the site from polling averages, so states that lean blue are light blue, states that are heavily red are a deep red color, and some are a neutral beige to indicate a toss-up.
For the last several election cycles, Florida has seemed like the golden ticket. With the "blue wall" in the Midwest (Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania) and the red firewall in the South, Florida and Ohio have felt like the only meaningful elections in presidential years.
But with Colorado looking increasingly blue (after voting for Republicans as recently as 2004), and Virginia voting for Democrats even in Clinton's loss in 2016, the map has begun a small but important shift. Demographic change has brought states like Texas, Arizona, and Georgia into the mix for Democrats, and with the "blue wall" polling for Biden in the double digits after falling to Trump in 2016, Republicans look to be in trouble this November. And Trump is not helping.
Here are the electoral maps from 2012, 2016, and the incomplete map of 2020.
By denying the severity of the virus in March and April, Trump risked virtually nothing electorally. Telling governors in New York and California to "figure it out" themselves, Trump was able to shift the blame onto those heavily blue states while those in bordering Arizona, Michigan, Florida, and Texas shook their heads, mocked mask wearing, and went about their normal lives, taking after Trump's rhetoric that the virus was at best overemphasized by the fake news media, and at worst a hoax by the Democratic Party to get him out of office. The liberals would deal with the consequences; he wasn't going to win California or New York anyway.
But now the virus has landed on the doorstep of Trump and his supporters, and for the first time, the polling is reflecting a sensibility and trusting of the scientific community that we haven't seen in these states. Florida, Arizona, and Texas have paused reopening, citing the numbers of increased cases, before pivoting back to the old song, that, in Ron DeSantis' words, "the books are cooked on Coronavirus." They've chosen to go down with the ship.
If Trump is forced to work hard for states like Arizona, North Carolina, and Texas, he would be relinquishing the "blue wall" states that would essentially secure the election for Biden. Here's a map of Biden takes the "blue wall" states, all of which poll at +10 for Biden right now.
This is Biden's electoral strategy. If he wins Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, where he is heavily favored, the rest could fall to Trump and the election would be Biden's.
But with Biden surging in Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, and even Texas, and as the tipping point states become those states in the South rather than the Midwest, Trump is almost certainly doomed if the polls reflect the actual voting block. Even just the cushion of Arizona, where Biden currently polls up 5 points, could require Trump to sweep the Midwest like he did four years ago.
Winning Arizona would allow Biden a cushion in places like Michigan or Wisconsin, changing the map entirely. If Biden is in the position to win Arizona, that likely means he will fare well in Florida and North Carolina, another state with changing demographics that will likely favor Democrats.
As the virus continues to land on the doorsteps of red states, and state officials continue their whiplash routine of protecting their constituents and protecting the President's ego for fear of not getting endorsed or re-elected, and the red wall looks more pink and even purple (!), Trump will be forced to put in work where he normally wouldn't have to, places like Texas and North Carolina, Georgia and even Alabama to win back a Senate seat. That means money, that means time and energy, and that means more Trump, and if the polls have shown us anything, in 2016 and today, more Trump exposure means less Trump enthusiasm. And he needs that rabid enthusiasm from 2016 to stay in the most powerful office in the land.
Let's get him out.