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Charting The Campaigns

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Voting is a sacred right of Americans, but it is particularly important for small business owners (like many ACCA members) who risk and sacrifice so much for their companies. The political stakes are heightened when elected officials are the ones making laws and regulations that determine how you are or are not allowed to conduct business. Ahead of the quickly approaching 2020 election, ACCA asked Jim Ellis, Senior Political Analyst for the Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC), to provide a preview of our country’s electoral landscape.

Charting the Campaigns 

By Jim Ellis, Senior Political Analyst for the Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC) 

National media political analysts tend to concentrate on the key Great Lakes swing states of Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin when discussing the presidential election because some combination of them will build the final leg of a winning coalition, but there are five other states that are arguably even more important. 

President Trump has a core of states from his 2016 winning coalition that he must keep in his column.  These five, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, are the foundation because they include swing states and others that are traditionally Republican but moving to the political center in recent elections and polling.  Together, they are the national indicator because securing all five allows Mr. Trump to win the national election by carrying just one of the swing Great Lakes states.  Conversely, if former Vice President Joe Biden can convert any one of the critical five southern tier states, he will almost assuredly clinch the Presidency. 

Arizona, Georgia, and Texas are the historically Republican domains that are now moving toward the ideological center, and thus no longer sure wins for the GOP nominee.  Of these three, President Trump is best positioned in Texas, with Arizona being most difficult.  Georgia, in polling, is performing as a swing state, which is still probably good news for President Trump since Republicans typically under-poll in the South by at least a couple of percentage points.  North Carolina and Florida are the traditional swing states that candidates from either party can win. 

Remembering that the President must win all five of these southern tier states, Mr. Biden’s best conversion opportunity, when all is said and done, will be Arizona since we are seeing fundamental demographic and political change developing in that state.  Of the five Arizona polls released in July, Mr. Biden has led in three from between one and seven points.  Another of the surveys projected the candidates deadlocked, and the final study in this category found Mr. Trump holding a four point lead.  Therefore, we can expect Arizona to be a major battleground all the way to November.

In the swing Great Lakes states, seven July polls have surfaced from the region, and Mr. Biden’s leads generally land within in a five+ percent range.  Of the seven, Mr. Trump had the edge in only one, Wisconsin, from the Trafalgar Group, the only pollster to correctly predict a Trump Badger State win in 2016. 

All of the aforementioned states are yielding close early polling results between Trump and Biden when overlaying polling with vote history and primary turnout figures.  In terms of national voting patterns, does the presidential election fundamentally transgress into who wins the preponderance of just these key nine states?  In a word, yes. 

The Senate races also look to have their own firewall.  The campaigns continue to evolve as we turn the corner toward the late primaries, and it is becoming clear that the Republicans are establishing a political safety net in order to protect their 53-47 chamber majority. 

Of the 35 Senate elections on the 2020 elections card, it appears that 13 are highly competitive, eleven of which are already under Republican control.  The remaining 22 are either safe or definitively leaning to one party or the other. 

The Republican political firewall consists of four states, and if the GOP candidates win in each place, then building a majority coalition becomes difficult for the Democrats to achieve. 

The most critical Senate race may be in Alabama.  There, Democratic Sen. Doug Jones will defend the seat he won in a 2017 special election against retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville who defeated former US Senator Jeff Sessions in the Republican runoff election.  Even though Democrats hold this seat, Alabama becomes the cornerstone of the Senate Republican firewall.  It is, therefore, a must-win campaign for the GOP. 

If they succeed in Alabama, and they should with President Trump on the ballot in what will be a top three state for him, the GOP majority number advances to 54, and this means Democrats would have to dominate the competitive seats still remaining on the board. 

The other three firewall states are not ones you typically hear about when reading stories about the Senate races.  In any event, if Republicans convert Alabama, and small state Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Steve Daines (R-MT) all win, the chances of Republicans maintaining their majority, but likely in a smaller dimension, dramatically improves. 

In a nutshell, the importance of the four-seat Republican firewall is tantamount to one party winning the Senate majority.  If Democrats hold Alabama or break through in either Maine, Iowa, or Montana, odds are strong they will win Senate control.  If not, Republicans should return to lead the Senate in the next Congress. 

In House races, five incumbents, three Republicans and two Democrats have already lost their seats in primary campaigns, which brings the open seat total to 45. 

Nationally, Republicans must realistically convert 19 Democratic seats if they are to gain even a one-seat majority in the next Congress.  Currently, 30 Democratic members represent districts that President Trump carried, most of which he will win again.  In 13 of the 30, the President’s victory margin exceeded six percentage points.  Mitt Romney also won a total of 16 of those 30 districts during his run against President Obama in 2012. 

Democrats are favored to hold the House, but we have seen four elections since 1994, including 2018, where the minority party has swung 40 or more seats their way.  Therefore, especially in this time of national upheaval, it is likely that anything could happen on November 3rd. 


Posted In: ACCA Now, Government

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