Polls, 2020 and Beyond
After polls completely missed the mark on Trump’s victory in 2016, polling data has been in the doghouse, but does that mean we should ignore all of it? Probably not, although that’s not to say we shouldn’t take many polls with a grain of salt. Overall, though, a good deal of polling is accurate if not just a snapshot in time and it would be reckless to proceed as if polls unfavorable to our candidate didn’t exist. Moreover, even if polls today turn out to be wrong on Election Day, they might still be instructive during the campaign and help drive results in our favor. Better to organize a campaign strategy around the worst-case scenario than wake up the morning after Election Day to (shudder) a President Harris or Buttigieg.
In order to prevail in 2020, Trump must secure states he won by narrow margins in 2016, that were critical to his Electoral College victory, but are currently in dangerous waters with disapproval numbers that are higher than his approval numbers. He must also hold onto states he handily won. To that end, Drudge recently posted a link to morningconsult.com that compares Trump’s approval and disapproval ratings in every state from the time he took office until the present. It’s a nifty interactive map that we ignore at our own peril.
Sifting through the charts, Trump’s disapproval numbers exceed his approval in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Iowa. He is dead even in Georgia and Missouri and neck-and-neck in Indiana and Nebraska with 49% approval and 48% disapproval. Kansas has seen a drop from a comfortable 56% approval and 32% disapproval, to an uncomfortable 50% and 47%, respectively. Texas shows a similar decline from 54% approval and 34% disapproval, to 50% and 46%, respectively. So too with Utah where he has plunged from 58% approval and 31% disapproval, to 49% and 47%, respectively.
Trump won all of these states in 2016 but the high approval and low disapproval numbers he enjoyed at the beginning of his term in states he readily won like Kansas, Texas, and Utah, have dissipated as his disapproval has skyrocketed from the low 30s to the high 40s. Roomy margins of victory in Arizona, North Carolina, Ohio, and Iowa are a thing of the past as long as his current disapproval ratings in those states continue at 52%, 50%, 51%, and 55%, respectively. Perhaps the greatest concern lies in states where he barely eked out a win against Clinton -- Wisconsin: 47.8% to 47%, Florida: 49% to 47.8%, Michigan: 47.6% to 47.4%, and Pennsylvania: 48.6% to 47.9%. His disapproval in those states is 56%, 50%, 55%, and 53%, respectively.
It’s possible as Election Day 2020 nears and the Democrats have a nominee, states that are trending away from the President today will shift back to his side of the ledger. For the most part, however, these states are up for grabs and cannot be taken for granted.
It’s not just that Trump lost the popular vote and won the Electoral College with some disturbingly slim margins that we need to be mindful of as we journey towards 2020, but the 2018 midterms were hardly reassuring for Republicans: Beto almost snatched Ted Cruz’s Senate seat out from under him, even though Cruz ultimately squeaked by with a win (in Texas, of all places!); Republican Brian Kemp won Georgia’s governorship by a razor-thin margin against Democrat Stacey Abrams; Rick DeSantis scraped by with a gubernatorial victory in Florida over socialist mayor of Tallahassee Andrew Gillum; conservative favorite Rick Scott edged out incumbent Florida Senator Bill Nelson in a nail-biter; and we outright lost valuable Senate seats to Dems in Nevada and Arizona.
If the 2018 midterms and morningconsult.com trend lines portend anything, it is that all of these squeakers could turn on a dime against Trump and for the Democrat. Cold comfort as we sail headlong into the 2020 maelstrom.
One thing is clear and quite unrelated to Trump. Most of the states discussed above, have historically been GOP stalwarts or swing states with significant conservative populations that could put a Republican in the White House, the U.S. Congress, or their state offices. But those close calls in 2018 in states we could “always count on,” suggest that liberal victories are no longer unthinkable. As people from deep blue states relocate to red states offering lower taxes and cost of living, more housing for less money, and the quiet life, they schlepp their blue state policies in their carpet bags and dump them on unsuspecting conservatives. They tend to cluster around large universities where they feel at home surrounded by excellent hospitals, cultural diversity, hip art and music scenes, and good eats -- like Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, Atlanta, Houston, Austin, Phoenix, and Tucson.
Just as big city liberals nullified conservative votes in California’s Central Valley, downstate Illinois, upstate New York, New Jersey’s bedroom communities, and anyplace outside of Seattle or Portland, they are attempting the same in Texas, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska -- intentionally turning reliably conservative strongholds into unreliable swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
As invigorating as Trump rallies are and bodacious are his tweets in exposing the Democrat-Media Complex for the hypocritical, bullying, intolerant socialists they are, we have to see the country as it is, and not as we would like it to be or how it feels when we in the company of fellow conservatives. Liberals are infiltrating conservative fortresses with the intensity and speed of Red Scare sci-fi movies. We cannot fall asleep and succumb to the body snatchers.
But the Rovian model of going into the field and GOTV that got Bush ’43 elected twice, is outdated. It’s all we have for now but going forward, we need bold ideas -- which started me thinking. When Rick Perry was governor of Texas and I lived in California, I recall him saying with a big Texas grin I love visiting California. Every time I leave, I have several corporations in my back pocket!
We need to incentivize our people to move from dying third-world states like Illinois and California to traditionally red states whose population centers are under siege from latte liberals. It’s not that simple, I know. Moving is hard on the family and often a difficult adjustment. People have families, jobs, farms, property, and businesses they have cultivated that they don’t want to leave behind.
The lure of low or nonexistent income taxes is a start, but not enough. First, we need red-state governors to visit blue states like Rick Perry did and poach their conservative inhabitants. Inform them of what your state has to offer. Try to persuade your state legislature to create new incentives -- maybe offer additional tax credits for a few years to newcomers; provide a stipend to relocate; help California or Illinois farmers secure new farmland in your state; make it easier for lawyers, doctors, accountants, and contractors to get reciprocity for their professional licenses; allow people who live six months and one day in your state to declare it as their primary residence and vote -- if this already exists, advertise it. Openly and brazenly compete for new residents.
Second, people have to change their thinking. With a booming economy, jobs and business opportunities are bountiful. You can move your practice or business. If you own a restaurant or a bed and breakfast, opportunities abound in big vacation states like Florida, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee. With the internet and ubiquitous flights, family is not far. You might like your house and kids’ schools but if you want them to have a better future you might consider moving to a state with more like-mindeds. Jobs and houses, churches and communities, even your business is fungible. You might not want to move, but you most certainly can. Saving the country involves great sacrifice. Are we willing to do that?
Conservatives living in hardcore blue states have no political power; we know our votes are meaningless. Our lives are dictated by people we don’t respect or agree with, and whose policies are inimical to the health and wealth of this nation and our families. We are silenced. By remaining in states that have failed us and where we cannot effectuate change, we enable Democrats to devour the few remaining strongholds we have. If we lose even a handful of those trustworthy electoral votes, we are dead in the water. Our power lies in our vote, but only if we are willing to move -- like so many Democrats have done, outflanking us once again.
Short of that I don’t know what else we can do. Getting out the vote only works if there are votes to get out that will make a difference. It won’t work in states and cities where Democrats outnumber Republicans.
Some of you might argue that groups like Turning Point or #WalkAway are evidence of a conservative resurgence afoot. Possibly. But the numbers are currently too small to sway enough elections in enough states. That said, this isn’t a zero-sum game. We can and should operate on multiple levels -- get out the vote where it makes sense and cultivate grassroots activism, education, and recruitment. Imagine how we could make America great again if, in addition to changing hearts and minds and getting those individuals to vote, hundreds of thousands or maybe even millions of conservatives left California, New York and Illinois in the dust, and relocated to Florida, Texas, and North Carolina.