The Democrats have a long record of losing to Republicans in, what at the time was viewed as, easily winnable elections. In 2010, just two years after the landslide victory of Obama and the Democrats, the Republicans gained 63 house seats. In 2014, two years after Obama’s comfortable reelection victory, the Republicans again gained 13 house seats and nine senate seats. None of these flops, however, could ever top Hillary Clinton losing Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to Donald Trump in 2016.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton did not go to Wisconsin once and only went to Michigan the week leading up to the election. She, and many leading figures within the Democratic party, arrogantly assumed that the so-called “blue-wall” could never be shattered by a Republican, let-alone Donald Trump. Trump’s anti-establishment, populist rhetoric on trade and infrastructure, issues key to Michigan and other rust belt voters, combined with Clinton not appealing to many democrats, led him to victory.
Clinton’s past support of TPP and NAFTA, a free-trade deal that decimated the Michigan economy, convinced many Obama voters in the working class to vote for a xenophobic racist who said he would repeal NAFTA. Clinton’s past support of the 1994 Crime Bill, three strike rule, Iraq War and her anti-populist campaign meant that she was unable to energize the democratic base in the way Obama had, leading to lower voter turnout in cities. Americans were and still are struggling and Trump said he will bring the manufacturing jobs back that once made America great. Clinton’s response was that “it’s already great” and these jobs just simply are not coming back. It is easy to see why she lost.
The polls in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania always showed Clinton beating Trump, and the same is true, at least for now, regarding the upcoming 2020 presidential election. In the most recent polling data, the RCP average has Trump losing to Biden by ten points, seven to Sanders, four to Warren and three to Harris. Add in the fact that in the 2018 midterm elections, democrat Gretchen Whitmer won Michigan’s gubernatorial election, while Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow comfortably dealt with Republican challenger John James, and this is the perfect situation where the Democrats think they have already won.
Sadly, the current front runner to take on Trump, Joe Biden, is nothing more than a charismatic version of Clinton. Clinton supported the 1994 crime bill, while Biden wrote it. He is a puppet of the military industrial complex, having supported every offensive US war he could and loves NAFTA and TPP. The worst similarity between the two is that Biden’s presidential campaign is “anti-populist,” meaning that he will not just criticize Trump and Republicans, but also the “far-left” progressives of the Democratic Party who “demonize” corporations. For the sake of appealing to the middle, Biden will ignore his party’s own base. This is a stunningly stupid strategy, especially in the rust belt where populist rhetoric on trade and infrastructure would almost guarantee victory over a president that has a 54% disapproval rate in Michigan.
Although none of the promises that he made to Michigan voters have been fulfilled, Trump will campaign in 2020 with the exact same populist rhetoric that won him the blue wall in 2016. The Democrats might get lucky and the polls might come to fruition, but Trump’s incredible campaigning abilities mean that it will not be easy. Clinton’s strategy failed in 2016, and it will fail again in 2020. If the democratic nominee runs a campaign on a “return to normalcy” and anti-populism, Trump will be re-elected because the status quo is unacceptable.
More than 75% of American workers live paycheck to paycheck, almost half of the country makes less than $31,000 a year, while more than 40,000 Americans die a year from a lack of health care. The solutions to these problems are populist. Raising the minimum wage, medicare-for-all and free college might be populist, “far-left” ideas, but they’re also winning ideas. If the democratic nominee is specifically against them, these current polls mean absolutely nothing, and 2020 might be added to the long list of winnable elections that the democrats lost.