Friday, July 19, 2019

No, Trump's Strategy Shouldn't be to Target "Swing Voters"

Over the last couple of days, one of the criticisms I've been seeing of Donald Trump's decision to go after "the squad" is that it's bad political strategy.

Generic version: He's throwing red meat to his base, but what he needs to be doing is trying to bring "swing voters" into his camp.

That's wrong. Here's why:

With respect to Trump, there are no "swing voters." The same people who liked him last time like him this time. The same people who didn't like him last time don't like him this time. So throwing red meat to his base is exactly what he should be doing. It's more important to keep his existing supporters excited so that they get out and vote again than it is to run around looking for potential new supporters who don't exist and aren't going to suddenly start existing.

A factoid I've pulled out before:

In 2012, Mitt Romney received about 60,000 votes in Erie County, Pennsylvania.

In 2012, Donald Trump also received about 60,000 votes in that county.

But in 2012 Barack Obama received about 91,000 votes in Erie County, while in 2016 Hillary Clinton received about 58,000.

That 33,000-voter difference isn't made up of people who might vote for Trump this time. It's made up of Democrat-leaning voters who just couldn't bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Trump isn't going to get any more votes in Erie county in 2020 than he did in 2016. If the Democrats can re-motivate 2,000 or so voters out of that 33,000, they carry the county again.

Similar situations exist all over Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida.  The ball is in the Democrats' court. If they nominate a better candidate than Hillary Clinton (not too difficult) and run a better campaign than Hillary Clinton's (ditto), they're probably going to win.

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