Home 2020 Elections Prof. Rachel Bitecofer’s “Post-Democratic Primary Update” Out, Has Biden 289-Trump 181 Electoral...

Prof. Rachel Bitecofer’s “Post-Democratic Primary Update” Out, Has Biden 289-Trump 181 Electoral Votes, Virginia as “Safe D” State

"Virginia’s days as a 'purple' state are behind her due to the state’s atypically high rates of college education"


CNU Professor Rachel Bitecofer, now at the Niskanen Center, is out with her “Post-Democratic Primary Update” – “with a Biden nomination a delegate-math inevitability even if contests remain on the calendar” – which shows the Democratic nominee with 289 electoral votes (EVs) and Trump with 181 EVs. Also of note, Bitecofer moves Virginia from “Likely D” to “Safe D.” With regard to Virginia, Bitecofer adds:

“Virginia’s days as a ‘purple’ state are behind her due to the state’s atypically high rates of college education (a trait she shares with her fellow former swing state, Colorado). I’m not sure we’ll be seeing Virginia return to two-party competition in statewide contests unless college-educated voters end their long-term realignment to the Democratic Party.”

With that, here’s her updated map, with a few highlights below…

  • “Now it is all but certain this fall’s general election will take place immersed in a serious [recession], with some early reports suggesting potential unemployment numbers, at least in the short term, well into the teens.”
  • “Trump’s mismanagement of the underlying pandemic causing the economy to melt down will be judged by voters, and it’s already clear that the president’s missteps in the early days of the pandemic are [exacerbating] America’s economic woes.”
  • Trump does have one formidable asset to help his reelection prospects: political polarization and hyperpartisanship, which even in the face of a recession and potential fallout from COVID19 management will likely provide him with a steady and reliable base of support, preventing the type of erosion in approval ratings we saw in the second term of George W. Bush’s tenure.”
  • A recession will certainly provide a potent test of the old ‘fundamentals’ models that my research challenges. Make no mistake about it: If ‘the economy, stupid’ still matters, it needs to matter here, and it should put the presidency completely out of grasp for Trump. Along with the state-level analysis presented here, economic fundamentals models under a recession will predict dismal electoral prospects for Trump.
  • “If the economic-fundamentals models retain even half of their old vitality, what we should see this fall is something on par with Obama’s 2008 Electoral College dominance of John McCain, which was produced under similar, collapse-in-progress economic distress.”
  • “But even without a big assist from the looming recession, by avoiding a Sanders nomination, and with it, total party meltdown, Democrats are well-positioned for the fall general election.”
  • “Biden fills the role of ‘generic Democrat’ perfectly fine, and that is all that is really required from Democrats to win this election. Because as Sanders supporters are just now coming to learn, while 2016 was about revolution, 2020 is about one thing and one thing only: making the scary, bad man go away.”
  • “My theory and modeling has Biden winning, so why does the VP pick matter? In fact, doesn’t arguing the VP matters undermine my central claim? As I said above, Biden wins with Klobuchar and he wins with Harris or Stacey Abrams. But that VP pick may affect the ability to flip two Georgia senate seats or cut the GOP’s only defense-to target Bernie supporters- off at the knees by putting a liberal on the ticket. I see the selection of the vice president as a risk mitigation factor...”
  • Arizona moves from “Toss-up to Lean D”; Nevada from “Lean D” to “Likely D”; Virginia from “Likely D” to “Safe D”; Texas from “Likely R” to “Lean R”; Georgia from “Lean R” to “Toss-up”…
  • “[U]ntil I see data that shows Trump’s Red Wall cracking, I remain bullish on his ability to remain at least competitive for reelection in 2020. In other words, it’s hard for me to imagine the political map remade and Democrats suddenly competitive in places like Arkansas, which is what we have seen historically when presidential elections have corresponded to periods of massive economic or societal upheaval.”

P.S. For my thoughts on Bitecofer and her analytical approach, see CNU Professor Rachel Bitecofer Is Really Having a Moment. And That’s a Very Good Thing.


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