But privately, campaign aides, senior administration officials and GOP donors have begun to acknowledge what they call a more plausible scenario: a pair of losses in the Rust Belt, most likely Michigan and Wisconsin. That would mean the president has to win some proven Trump-averse states to crack the 270-vote threshold needed to clinch a second term.
Gone are the days of forecasting a landslide victory, said one person close to the Trump campaign. The president’s team is now recasting its expectations to identify not where Trump can win more, but how he can lose less.
“We don’t need 306. We just need 270. We can lose Michigan and lose Pennsylvania and still win,” said a top Trump adviser, noting that a win in New Hampshire, combined with one in Nevada or New Mexico, would provide enough Electoral College support to prevent defeat even if Biden wins big in the industrial Midwest.
That strategy accounts for a base of 260 electoral votes, a sum of every state Trump carried four years ago minus Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which total a combined 46 Electoral College votes. To ensure its effectiveness, the campaign has recently moved to shore up its base states, including North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona and Iowa.