(CNN)Conventional wisdom dictates that the way for Democrats to win the White House in November is to win back three Rust Belt states that Donald Trump managed to wrest from their grip in 2016: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
But what if that CW is wrong? (Sort of how conventional wisdom — including me! — was wrong about Trump’s chances of winning in 2016). What if the Midwest isn’t the central battleground of the 2020 election?That’s the argument Doug Sosnik, a longtime Democratic consultant, makes in a new memo outlining the political state of play heading into the fall campaign. (You can read the full memo here.)Writes Sosnik:”It is generally accepted that Trump’s victories in the Rust Belt states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin handed him the presidency in 2016. So it stands to reason that many political pundits are squarely focused on this path for a Biden victory in 2020. But the fact is that it isn’t Biden’s easiest route to the White House.”Read More
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So, what is? According to Sosnik, a mix of a win in one (or two) of that trio of Rust Belt States coupled with an increased focus on the Southwest and the South — regions that are quite clearly moving in Democrats’ direction demographically and otherwise.And at the top of that list is Arizona, which Sosnik describes as “the state most likely to transition to a Democratic base state as early as November.” Why? Because of the rising Hispanic voting-age population coupled with major turnout increases among that same group. (Hispanic turnout went up 25% between 2014 and 2018, according to Sosnik’s calculations.)Those changes have led to significant gains for Democrats in the state; Sen. Kyrsten Sinema broke a 30-year-long losing streak for Democrats in Senate races in the state when she won in 2018. And Democrat Mark Kelly is leading Republican Sen. Martha McSally in virtually every poll conducted on that race.Sosnik believes that Joe Biden’s best path to 270 electoral votes is winning Michigan, Pennsylvania and Arizona (not Wisconsin), which would allow the former vice president to lose Florida, Ohio, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and Iowa and still win with 279 electoral votes.Viewed beyond just the coming 2020 election, what Sosnik sees is a fundamental realignment in the Electoral College map, with the Midwest moving slightly more Republican even as the South and Southwest move much more heavily Democratic.”The 2020 elections will start a new era in presidential politics with an increasing number of states like Arizona and North Carolina becoming the political battlegrounds in American politics,” concludes Sosnik. “The Biden campaign’s strategy should focus on this new political map in our country rather than refighting the 2016 election.”The Point: Yes, Sosnik is a Democrat who wants to see Biden win. But his proposal for how that most easily happens is an intriguing analysis of the ways in which the current electoral map may be changing (or may have already changed) without many political types — in both parties — realizing it.