Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Electoral College Works to Trump's Disadvantage; Democrat Jennifer McCormick Has a Chance to Win the Indiana Governor's Race

Michigan, with its 15 electoral votes, does not like Donald Trump or Trumpism.    Pennsylvania which weighs in with 19 electors clearly does not either.   While those two states helped put Trump over the top in 2016, elections held in those states since, including ones with Trump on the ballot and people he recruited, demonstrate that Trump won't be winning those in 2024.  

Without Michigan and/or Pennsylvania, it is difficult to see how Trump, if nominated, can get to 270 electoral votes.  Other states that are in play include Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin.  Trump lost all three of those states in 2020.  To win the Electoral College, Trump has to win two of those three states. 

However, in 2022, Trump-backed candidates crashed and burned in Arizona and Georgia.  Only in Wisconsin did a Trump-enthusiast, Senator Ron Johnson, win and that may have been more due to the weakness of his far left opponent than the strength of his candidacy.  

And that is assuming that Trump wins the quasi-battleground states of Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Texas and North Carolina. 

To win the White House in 2024, it would be helpful if the Republicans could make inroads into Democratic territory.  Even assuming Michigan and Pennsylvania aren't coming back, there is Nevada, Minnesota, Maine, New Hampshire and New Mexico.  None of those states have much in the way of delegates, however...only Minnesota breaks into the double digits.   While a new Republican nominee might have a shot at turning those blue states red, it is highly doubtful that Trump could earn enough converts to win any of them.

Yesterday, Texas Senator John Cornyn announced he would not support Trump...that the GOP needed an alternative.  Prior to that Indiana Senator Todd Young announced he wouldn't back Trump's renomination.  When asked "why?" Senator Young said "Where do I begin?  I can't think of someone worse equipped to bring people together...and advance our collective values than the former President."

Amen.  Trump can't win in 2024.  Time for my Republican Party to move on.  Fortunately, the Republican Party will have alternatives in next year's election.  Yesterday, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott announced he was running for President.  Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has also announced.  I could live with Scott and I would be enthused if Hutchinson were the nominee.  Two other candidates, Florida Governor Ron Desantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nicki Haley, I cannot support.


Since I wrote last, former Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick announced she would be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor.  In 2016, then Republican McCormick defeated incumbent Glenda Ritz, a Democrat.  After disagreements with Republican Governor Eric Holcomb and the GOP-dominated state legislature over education policy, McCormick decided to not seek re-election in 2020.  In June of 2021, she announced she was switching parties. 

It looks like McCormick will be facing off against U.S. Senator Mike Braun who is seeking to replace Governor Holcomb who is term-limited.  Cook Political Report rates the races as "Solid R."  Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball has the race as "Safe R."

I don't agree.  Yes, McCormick is clearly the underdog.  But she does have several things going in her favor which suggest the race could be competitive.  First, Indiana statewide races tend to be much closer during presidential election years.  Second, the Indianapolis suburban donut counties are trending more Democratic.  This is especially true when it comes to Hamilton County.    Democratic candidates are now competitive in the two biggest cities in that county - Carmel and Fishers.  Third, Braun has tied himself closely to Donald Trump, and with those ties comes baggage.  Braun no doubt knows that and has recently tried to back away from Trump...slowly.  But that will be complicated by Braun having to share the GOP ticket with Rep. Jim Banks, a Trump backer who is so extreme he supported the attempt to overturn the election results.

McCormick certainly needs to get some breaks to be competitive.  She needs Trump at the top of the ticket to drive Democratic turnout in Hoosier cities and suburbs.  But she needs to hope the Trump-inspired rural turnout gains of 2016 and 2020 won't be duplicated in 2024.  The increased Republican rural vote offset the Democratic gains in the Indianapolis suburbs during the Trump years.

Those factors are outside of the McCormick control. But what is in her control is the opportunity to run a smart race.  While McCormick should speak about the education issues which she knows so well, the other issues she should focus on should be those that Republican candidates like to talk about, issues like taxing and spending.  McCormick hitting Braun for supporting reckless spending during the Trump presidency would resonate with Republican voters.  McCormick has to resist running on the progressive agenda.  Even if gun control, abortion rights and raising taxes on the wealthy appear to poll well with Hoosiers, putting those issues front of center in her campaign means McCormick will get labeled as liberal and her campaign will be doomed as a result.

McCormick's campaign also needs to know the numbers inside and out.  Winning campaigns as an underdog is about moving the numbers from your opponent's side to yours.  In order to do this, a candidate's campaign has to know what the numbers are and where the opportunities are for political gain.  

Don't count McCormick out.  She has a real chance to win in 2024.

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