In other words, the potentially pivotal state in the electoral college may be 4 to 5 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in 2020. This means the opportunity for an electoral college/popular vote split in Trump’s favor remains quite plausible.
Still, Trump would lose Wisconsin and the presidential election if the same people came out and voted for the same party in 2020 as they did in 2018.
This is where Trump’s strategy of going after four very progressive congresswomen comes into play. Trump wants to recreate the 2016 dynamic of making the eventual 2020 Democratic presidential nominee unpopular. Trump would love to tie Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, lhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan to whomever wins the Democratic nomination for president.
As I noted last week, three of the four top candidates on the Democratic side (Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts) are far more liberal than recent Democratic presidential nominees.
Still, we should realize that Trump’s really trying to thread the needle here. A lot of things can go wrong.
His net approval rating remains negative (currently -9 points), as it has throughout a presidency in which he has focused on hardline immigration policies and racial resentment.
It remains unclear if Trump can compensate his unpopularity by demonizing the Democratic nominee this time around.
And remember, Trump also risks raising turnout among nonwhite voters. That’s not a big deal in a state like Wisconsin, which is very white. It could, however, take Sunbelt states moving to the left, like Arizona and Texas, and put them into play for the Democrats.
If either Arizona or Texas go blue, it opens up a lot of electoral college paths for the eventual Democratic nominee.