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What 2018 Tells Us About the 2020 Electoral Map

What would the 2020 electoral map look like if you added up the popular vote in all the House races that were contested in the 2018 midterm elections?

Republicans: Democrats: Tossup:

A Preview of the 2020 Electoral Map?

If it looks familiar, it’s actually the exact same as the 2012 electoral map, in which Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney — except with Ohio going to the Republicans.

As Nate Silver notes:

It isn’t a perfect exercise, by any means. There are a few dozen congressional districts where one of the parties (usually Republicans) didn’t nominate a candidate. I did make one adjustment for a slightly different problem, which is that Florida doesn’t bother to count votes in uncontested races, something that cost Democrats in the neighborhood of 720,000 votes off their popular-vote tally in that state.

However, what’s clear in this analysis is the importance of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan for the 2020 electoral map. If Democrats can win all three states, then they don’t even need Florida to win the presidential election (assuming they hold all of the other states.)

But if Democrats lose all three Northern states as they did in 2016, then even Florida won’t be enough. Instead, Democrats would have to pursue a “Sunbelt strategy” and perhaps win Florida plus North Carolina, Arizona, Texas or Georgia.

It didn’t work in 2016 for Democrats because Donald Trump performed well in the Northern states — and she didn’t campaign very much in them — while the Sun Belt Strategy wasn’t really viable yet. Although Clinton performed much better than a typical Democratic candidate in Arizona and Texas, it wasn’t enough to win.

Depending upon who Democrats nominate, that could change in the 2020 election.

All of this leaves Silver to conclude:

Getting stuck in between the Northern Path and the Sun Belt Strategy is a big risk for Democrats: where their Electoral College problems become most acute. And although the potential addition of Texas to the Sun Belt Strategy group of states makes it more intriguing, Tuesday night’s results suggest that the Northern Path is still the path of least resistance for a Democrat hoping to win the Electoral College. If Trump has lost the benefit of the doubt from voters in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, he may not have so much of an Electoral College advantage in 2020.