Familiar presidential battlegrounds—not just Ohio and Virginia, but also Colorado, Iowa and more—are fading from the radar. States that haven’t experienced a top-of-the-ticket dogfight in decades—like Arizona, Georgia, Minnesota and maybe even Texas—are suddenly poised to play a pivotal role.
You can argue about whether Minnesota—a cradle of liberalism that produced Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Paul Wellstone—is a pipe dream for Trump in 2020. Or whether Texas—where Republicans hold all nine statewide elected offices, both Senate seats and both chambers of the Legislature—will truly be in play in November. But one thing seems increasingly inarguable: This presidential race will be fought on electoral terrain that would have been unthinkable four years ago, before Trump blew everything up…
In all of those Midwestern states, Trump assembled something like a reverse Obama coalition, marked by squeezing ever higher percentages and turnout from a shrinking white electorate. And he created a dilemma for Democrats over which path to pursue in the future: Focus on a map that prioritized the Obama coalition of young people, women and nonwhite voters, or double back to a more traditional map that prioritized winning the white working class.
The idea that Ohio might not be at the center of the presidential election universe seems preposterous at first. But Trump’s 8-point win in 2016 represented the widest GOP winning margin in a generation. Two years later, in what was nationally a great Democratic year, Ohio Republicans won every statewide executive office.