Arizona and Georgia appear to be more winnable states at the presidential level than the traditional bellwether states of Iowa and Ohio heading into the next presidential election, the head of Democrats’ top 2020-focused super PAC said Tuesday.
Guy Cecil, the head of the heavy-hitting Priorities USA, told reporters during a briefing that the pair of Democratic-trending Sun Belt states are in better shape than the two Midwestern juggernauts that in recent decades have played key roles in determining the presidency, according to extensive polling data conducted by the organization over the past year.
Their surveys show that the race between Trump and a generic Democratic candidate are currently closer in the pair of new states, which Priorities put in its “expansion states” category along with North Carolina, which has been a competitive state the last three presidential elections. Iowa and Ohio were in Priorities’ “watch” category of states that could become competitive but are unlikely to be the deciding factor, along with the Republican-leaning state of Texas and Democratic-leaning states like Minnesota, Colorado and Virginia.
“We’re ahead by more in Virginia and Colorado than we are behind in Arizona,” Cecil said.
That analysis mirrors the 2016 and 2018 electoral results in those states. Hillary Clinton came closer to winning Arizona and Georgia than either Iowa or Ohio, and Democrats had better nights in the former two than the latter two last Tuesday.
Cecil pointed out that map could change under “person-specific” circumstances — e.g. the Democratic candidate’s unique strengths and weaknesses.
But Cecil warned that while the midterms showed a significant shift back to Democrats in some key places, the fight for 2020 was shaping up to be a close contest. Their polling predicted that Democrats would have 269 electoral votes and Republicans would have 259 if the election were held today, with Wisconsin an exact tie in their polling. If that map plays out and the GOP wins Wisconsin, an unlikely but not impossible scenario the electoral college would be an exact tie and the House would decide the next president, a chaotic and likely damaging process for the nation.
Similarly, Priorities’ polling found a generic Democrat leads Trump by eight points among 2016 and 2018 voters right now — but in a subsample of voters from the Midwestern swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin, the Democrat is only up by two points.
The group was one of the first to heavily push Democrats to embrace an economic message focused on healthcare and defending Social Security and Medicare for the 2018 midterms, and argued that message was key to winning last week and would be again in 2020. That message played well with both new Democratic voters and 2016 Trump voters that Democrats peeled away in the midterms, along with the argument that Trump was dividing the country.
“Our intention is not to simply focus on temperament or language or his behavior, and to make sure we are taking Trump on right where it hurts for him,” he said. “When it comes to regular people, when it comes to most Americans, Trump’s policies and his approach to office is harmful.”