The outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the United States has upended any semblance of predictability in U.S. politics, delaying elections, shaking up legislative priorities, and forcing campaigns to go almost entirely digital. Despite the rapidly changing dynamics, however, the electoral path to the White House remains largely the same.
Doug Sosnik, a political strategist who served as White House political director under the Clinton administration, believes that six swing states will prove decisive in deciding the next president of the United States: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
“The electoral college math required to win the presidential race hasn’t changed,” Sosnik told the Washington Post this week. “While the pandemic has turned the world upside down in the last 30 days, some underlying dynamics of the race that were in play prior to the crisis have remained constant.”
Using data from Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Department of Labor, the Washington Post created a chart outlining how each of these key six states has been affected by the coronavirus from a public health and economic standpoint.
The figures cited in the infographic above will be critical factors in determining whether the electorate in each of these swing states feels inclined to entrust President Donald Trump with another term. If these numbers rise over the next month or two, Trump will find himself on an increasingly difficult road to reelection.
Sosnik didn’t mince words on this subject. “In an election that will come down to six states, the health and economic consequences of the coronavirus in each of these states, as well as voter turnout, will determine who (wins),” he said.
A recent article in the Atlantic, for instance, highlighted liabilities for Trump in Michigan, which he won in 2016 by a razor thin margin of 10,704 votes. As hospitals in the Wolverine State struggle with equipment and staffing shortages under the under the third-largest coronavirus caseload in the country, the president has disparaged Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (a potential running mate for Trump’s opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, according to many political analysts).
“Democrats are sure to remind voters of (Trump’s) threats against Whitmer,” Atlantic senior editor Ronald Brownstein wrote Monday. “He risks alienating those who think that a political grudge is driving the federal response.”
During a March 27 White House briefing, Trump said he told Vice President Mike Pence not to “call the woman in Michigan.”
“You know what I say?” Trump added. “If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call.”
The comments are surefire campaign fodder for Michigan Democrats.
“There is an incredibly minuscule chance” that this clip of Trump “does not make it into television ads, digital ads, and mailers throughout the state of Michigan later this year,” Eric Goldman, Whitmer’s former campaign manager, told the Atlantic.
John Truscott, a veteran Republican consultant in Michigan, told the Atlantic that Trump’s comments simply hardened the political divide between those who support and oppose the president, reinforcing the reality that 2020 is going to be a base election. He said Trump’s attacks on Whitmer are “one of those things where people thought it was unnecessary and kind of gratuitous. But at the same time, people who like Trump weren’t bothered by it. People who don’t like him hate him even more.”
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Andrew Collins cut his teeth in politics as a congressional campaign staffer during the 2012 election. Since then he has worked in Washington, D.C. as the digital media manager and as a staff writer at the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, and is a recent graduate of the Trinity Fellows Academy (class of ’17). His work has appeared in Politico, US News & World Report, The Chicago Tribune, The Daily Caller, and The Hill. He lives in Seattle, WA.