Will 2020 Be Another Blue Wave Election?

Appearing on Hardball with Chris Matthews, former Governor Bill Weld, who is currently running for the Republican presidential nomination, did a great job of summarizing why Donald Trump has embraced white supremacists.

[Trump] and Steve Bannon decided a long time ago that their playbook is to divide the American people, get everyone all upset, and set everyone’s teeth on edge and then it will be easier for them to make their autocratic play and say “here’s our man on horseback coming to rescue all of us because everything is in such terrible shape.”

Back when Steve Bannon was directing the research efforts at Cambridge Analytica, he worked on how to psychographically target white Americans with messages about something called “race realism.” That is the new language to describe “scientific racism.”

…the pseudoscientific belief that empirical evidence exists to support or justify racism (racial discrimination), racial inferiority, or racial superiority; alternatively,it is the practice of classifying individuals of different phenotypes or genotype into discrete races.

In other words, Bannon was developing a political strategy that would tap into racism. When that kind of messaging was successful, it would lead to moral outrage. At that point, the plan was to accuse the critics of playing “identity politics.”

“The Democrats,” he said, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day.”

After weeks of spewing racist rhetoric while promoting the Great Replacement conspiracy theory, the president is demonstrating how that game is played.

That’s the bad news. But recent polling from Stanley Greenberg provides the good news: that strategy is backfiring. He recently polled 1,700 registered voters by phone and summarized the results.

Most commentators are failing to read how ordinary Americans, independents, some Republicans and Democrats, are responding to President Trump and how determined they are to bring an end to his presidency and its defining fight against immigration and a multicultural America. Voters are paying intense attention to politics, and their conclusions indicate a landslide win for the Democrats in 2020, whether they nominate somebody like Vice President Joe Biden or somebody like Senator Elizabeth Warren…

This was the most compelling survey I have conducted in a unique and transformative time when America is determined to tell itself and the world what it believes about the country, what it believes about Donald Trump, and what kind of president it wants in office. I’ve rarely seen such intensity of opinion and clarity of trends so early in an election. But there is little nuance in the powerful trends and the contours of the emerging election.

Most commentators suspect that President Trump is succeeding in making immigration an issue, and yes, he is, but to his profound detriment. The president has stoked his base with fatal consequence. He has led voters to defend immigration and immigrants, enlarged the enthusiasm gap in favor of Democrats, and pushed Democrats to be even more consolidated behind a candidate to defeat him.

Based on this poll, Greenberg predicts a blue wave in 2020 that will meet or exceed what happened in 2018. He confirms what Martin Longman wrote Wednesday: the Republican Party is shedding conservative voters.

[T]he Trump GOP is now dominated increasingly by Evangelicals, the Tea Party, and conservative Catholics who embrace his anti-government, pro-life, and economic nationalist populism. Those groups now form 70 percent of the party. The secular conservatives, many who rally to the GOP establishment, and the moderates are in deep decline.

Of course, this is only one poll and the election is still more than a year away. But as we’ve seen from Trump over these last few years, he doesn’t adapt, but simply doubles-down on his tactics. So I would predict that, if anything, he will make this election even more about his own xenophobia.

Contrary to what we saw in the Democratic debates, this election will not be about policies. Greenberg is right to suggest that “America is determined to tell itself and the world what it believes about the country, what it believes about Donald Trump, and what kind of president it wants in office.” The candidate who most effectively tells a story of America that contrasts with Trump’s could usher in another massive blue wave in 2020.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.