If you haven’t been paying attention, the President starts the quest for 2020 behind. Georgia and even Texas are showing swing state signs. The reliably Republican suburbs of Oklahoma went Democrat with turnout close to Presidential levels.
The President won in 2016 because of 70,000 votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, all of which flipped decisively to the Democrats in 2018 with turnout comparable to a Presidential election year.
But you are reading all of this saying, “You thought Hillary was going to win in 2016.” And you would be right. Just about every pundit and analyst in America thought so. And you’re probably muttering as well that the polls were wrong.
Except they weren’t. The polling showed Clinton winning, and she did win the popular vote. The polls were national in scope and not swing state focused. The media will not make that mistake again. Clinton’s campaign was inept, and she ignored several areas in which she needed to campaign. Had she gone to Wisconsin, the results of 2016 could have been different.
This is not to say President Trump is a loser in 2020. Incumbency has its advantages. But the President is personally, intensely disliked. His approval is the lowest it has been since his election. He has plenty of time to rebuild and grow it. But does he have the discipline? That is a problem.
The biggest problem the GOP has headed into 2020 is that they will still think the factors that led Trump to beat Hillary Clinton are at play. They won’t believe the data because of how 2016 turned out.
Regardless of the GOP’s emotional view in this, the warning signs are there in places like Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, and elsewhere that the President needs a focused, disciplined approach to rebuild trust and repair relationships. But the actions and behaviors of those around the President and his core supporters suggest they suffer from the delusion of thinking they can win 2020 with just the President’s base because of how 2016 turned out.