Lessons for 2020

There are many issues in which Not Trump voters agree with Trump voters in large enough numbers for the GOP to make the case that they are the party of change and opportunity and build a winning coalition. As the Democratic Party moves left, the GOP has a chance to entice enough Not Trump voters to join their coalition even with their personal dislike of Trump. On abortion, the majority of voters are pro-life and support restrictions on abortion, the only question is where to begin the restrictions. On trade, at least a third of Not Trump voters see the merit of Trump trade strategy. On economic growth, Trump and Not Trump voters view increasing debts, deficits or even spending as hurting the economic showing the rejection of Keynesian economics.

From 47% to 52%, voters overall approve of Trump handling of trade issues, immigration, economy and foreign affairs even if they don’t particularly care for him on a personal level. On Health care, most voters prefer choices in their health care, they want to keep their plans if they like them or keep their doctor and here the GOP can win if they chose to promote a health care plan that offers those things. The Democrat’s leading candidates will either be billionaires like Michael Bloomberg or Tom Steyer or they will go to younger more leftist candidates such as California Senator Kamala Harris, so likeability issue may not be factor as it wasn’t in 2016 when the Democrats nominated one of the most unlikeable candidates ever in Hillary Clinton. Ted Cruz survived a tough Senate race in 2018 despite being unlikable and outspent two to one, so being likable could be overlooked if the alternative is worse and the plan that Trump promoted in 2016 is working. For many Republican candidates, there is a discomfort with having Trump on top of the ticket.

Many GOP voters though like Trump more than their candidates for U.S. House and Senate so Republicans need to run on a positive message that they will be the party of reform and the Middle Class. Even with the recent gains by Democrats, the Democrat Party is still a Party of the two coasts and no longer the party of Middle America or the South. Much of Middle America and the South still remains Republican so the key issue for the GOP is whether they can get enough of the Democratic base to build a new coalition in key Midwest States just as Michigan or Wisconsin plus make inroads in Western states just as Colorado and Nevada. In Florida, school choice prompted 18% of black women to vote for Ron DeSantis and this alone would have propelled DeSantis to victory. In Tennessee, Martha Blackburn cleaned up in the suburbs, exceeded national average among blacks and Hispanics (gaining 45% of Hispanic voters in her state). In Missouri, Josh Hawley had similar success in both the Suburbs and with minorities plus turnout among black voters cratered for Claire McCaskill and Hawley did very similar among Hispanics than Blackburn. De Santis, Hawley and Blackburn received over 50% of suburban votes while on a national average the GOP only received 49%, the same as Democrats.

The lesson for GOP is to study these candidacies. Rick Scott did well among Hispanics and that even includes Puerto Rican voters and like De Santis, expanded his reach into the Suburbs. These candidates expanded upon the Trump coalition of 2016 and won as a result. The key for Republicans is to fight on issues and expanding the theme on fair opportunity to succeed. In 2020 and as long as the economy holds, the 2020 election will be a values election with values meaning more than just traditional social issues but more broad value battle including should voters chose their health care plan and their doctors or should the government do it for them? On the abortion issue, the battle will be on the value of when is life worth protecting or does the unborn allowed no rights to life? On economy, which values is more important, the right to a job and opportunity or do we engage in the politics of envy at the expense of opportunity. The GOP won’t have an easy time with Trump on the top of the ticket due to his personality but his ideas are more popular than his opponent’s will be and that is the battleground that needs to be fought, the battleground of ideas.

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