States That Went For Trump In 2020

Where Trump beat Biden in 2020, his margin of victory was often wide.  Listed below are the states where Trump prevailed, in order of his relative popularity.  The results show where Democrats are least competitive, where Trump prevails because of an absence of viable competition.

After that is a second list, of the ten states most closely decided in 2020.  In four states (Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania), Biden prevailed by a margin of less than one percent. Had these states gone the other way, Trump would still be president.

The political crisis of the United States will resolve when a rival party becomes ideologically competitive in the many states where Trump dominated comfortably last time around.  Many of these states are small.  How to woo votes away from Trump in these areas is an experiment worth embarking on prior to the election of 2024.


KEY: State (Electoral votes) NUMBER OF VOTES CAST FOR TRUMP / Margin of victory

    • Wyoming (3) 193,559 / 43.3 %
    • West Virginia (5) 545,382 / 38.9 %
    • North Dakota (3) 235,595 / 33.3 %
    • Oklahoma (7) 1,020,280 / 33.1 %
    • Idaho (4) 554,119 / 30.8 %
    • Arkansas (6) 760,647 / 27.6 %
    • South Dakota (3) 261,043 / 26.2 %
    • Kentucky (8) 1,326,646 / 25.9 %
    • Alabama (9) 1,441,170 / 25.4 %
    • Tennessee (11) 1,852,475 / 23.2 %
    • Utah (6) 865,140 / 20.5 %
    • Nebraska (4/5) 556,846 / 19.1 %
    • Louisiana (8) 1,255,776 / 18.6 %
    • Mississippi (6) 756,764 / 16.5 %
    • Montana (3) 343,602 / 16.4 %
    • Indiana (11) 1,729,516 / 16 %
    • Missouri (10) 1,718,736 / 15.4 %
    • Kansas (6) 771,406 / 14.6 %
    • South Carolina (9) 1,385,103 / 11.7 %
    • Alaska (3) 189,951 / 10 %
    • Iowa (6) 897,672 / 8.2 %
    • Ohio (18) 3,154,834 / 8.1 %
    • Texas (38) 5,890,347 / 5.6 %
    • Florida (29) 5,668,731 / 3.3 %
    • North Carolina (15) 2,758,775 / 1.3 %
    • Maine (1/4) 360,737* / -9.1 %

*Votes garnered in Maine gave Trump 1 electoral vote out of a possible four.

The most closely contested states in 2020: Biden’s narrowest margins

    • Georgia (16) B by 0.2 %
    • Arizona (11) B by 0.6 %
    • Wisconsin (10) B by 0.6 %
    • Pennsylvania (20) B by 0.7 %
    • North Carolina (15) T by 1.3 %
    • Michigan (16) B by 2.6 %
    • Nevada (6) B by 2.7 %
    • Florida (29) T by 3.3 %
    • Texas (38) T by 5.6 %
    • Minnesota (10) B by 7.1 %
    • New Hampshire (4) B by 7.1 %

SOURCES
Vote totals from https://www.archives.gov/electoral-college/2020

Margins from https://cookpolitical.com/2020-national-popular-vote-tracker
Downloadable blank outline map from JFK Library

 


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The Democrats’ Winnowing Process

On Monday, a depleted Cory Booker dropped out of the presidential race, three weeks before the Iowa caucus.  He had been running for president for nearly a year.  The senator’s departure leaves a dozen Democrats still in the race.  In the incredibly silly yet arduous process used to sift through presidential contenders, sixteen Democrats who were running have already failed.

Yes, they recruited campaign staffs, solicited donations, spoke at rallies, sought friends in wine caves, and pontificated on debate stages, only to gnash their teeth in despair over low statistics gathered through doubtful methods but taken as proof that they wouldn’t catch on.  The reasons remain mysterious, but the polls “say” that these candidates are not what the American Tigger likes.

So Marianne Williamson, Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, Beto O’Rourke, Steve Bullock, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bill de Blasio,  Eric Swalwell, Jay Inslee, John Hickenlooper, Tim Ryan, Joe Sestak, Richard Ojeda, Seth Moulton, Wayne Messam, and now Cory Booker, have all dropped out—beaten before even a single vote has been cast.

Meanwhile, likely voters (and donors) are being looked to determine what the Democratic Party needs.  The Democratic National Committee  is being decidedly hands-off when it comes to the all-important matter of picking a standard-bearer who can beat Trump.  Given the divide that has opened up between progressives and moderates, the candidate who wins the nomination will fatefully determine the tilt of the entire party.

It’s left to the voters to judge the vast assemblage that has shown up in response to what is essentially an open casting call.  The debate stage is an audition for the presidency (a crude test, given what being an effective president actually involves).  Not surprisingly, many voters are holding off in picking a favorite, until they can see what other people think.  Who is a winner?  This is what ordinary voters expect someone else to decide.

Am I a typical voter, I who could imagine voting for Sanders, or Steyer, or Bullock, or Bloomberg?  Even very well-informed voters may well yet be holding fire.  Which makes me wonder about the meaning, at present, of those all-important opinion polls that sites like FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics keep track of for us, and which have caused so many interesting Democratic talents to drop out.

Image: from this source.
Joseph Keppler’s 1884 “An Unpleasant Ride through the Presidential Haunted Forest,” shows Uncle Sam and Dame Democracy riding in terror through a woods haunted with the ghosts of some twenty “dead” presidential hopefuls. Click to enlarge.


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Why The Parties Don’t Die

  1. They are mature bureaucracies.
  2. Incumbency: the desire of those in power to remain in power.
  3. Monied interests support and reinforce the existing structure.
  4. The absence of good alternatives (no viable insurgent parties that look like winners).
  5. At the state level, hostile conditions, along with sheer lassitude, prevent new parties from forming.
  6. The specialized intellectuals (editors, ideologues, strategists) needed to create new parties have grown up with the existing parties and are loathe to abandon them.  Professional loyalty to party interests perpetuates their power.
  7. Candidates know it’s easier to get votes through one of the two major parties: this is what Trump and Sanders both discovered.  So grass-roots/breakaway movements that might formerly have chosen to build something new from the ground up are instead aspiring to rehab the old parties from within.  Both major parties are living off of the parasitic energy of actors who are cannibalizing them (e.g., the Tea Party, the current-day progressives).
  8. Parties used to coalesce around outstanding individuals and their ideas (e.g. Jacksonian democracy; “radical Republicans”) but this customary way of organizing politics, which was risky and instinctive, has been superseded by methods that are bureaucratic and “scientific.”  Dependence on a bureaucratic establishment tends to become a substitute for reliance on the public will.  The monolithic character of the Republican and Democratic establishments and their tendency to thwart political innovation has become an open target of frustration and rage on both the right and left (embodied in Trump and Ocasio-Cortez).
  9. The old parties, burdensome though they are, stabilize national politics.  Americans are accustomed to the order and the limited choices they provide.  So we resist acknowledging that we should abandon these parties.  The parties no longer harmonize sentiment: they no longer stand for a single set of non-negotiable goals.  Ideologically, both parties are fractured.  Their tents are so big, what they stand for is no longer clear to the people.  They struggle to exert discipline over their supposed standard-bearers.  Iconoclasts overwhelm them.  Nonetheless, they live on because politics without these parties would open up new realms of possibility, giving American both more to hope for—and more to fear.

The Nature of Our Political Crisis

Low-angle shot of Trump and smiling lawmakers.
Perhaps you, my reader, feel as I do, that it’s a challenge to act meaningfully in response to the present political situation—despite recognizing that, as the federal government shows signs of veering off course, all citizens have a responsibility to promote stability and work together to avert an all-out crisis.

So many Americans are unhappy—worried—distressed—alarmed—embarrassed—about the state of the union.  We doubt our president’s sanity, and we fear the real destruction that could follow from having entrusted the entire executive branch to someone who is vicious, immoderate, unenlightened.  We are unhappy and disappointed in the condition and posture of the political parties–both the Republicans and the Democrats lack unity, ideological clarity, and discipline.

Trump gained power partly by destroying many Republican reputations; and, since, as president, he has pushed the GOP to support his style of politics and ideological viewpoint, the influence of many moderate Republicans has been checked.  This has further weakened what was formerly the most effective and palatable element of that party, an element that far-right zeal has gradually eclipsed.  Many formerly respected Republicans have disgraced themselves by collaborating with Trump or, by their silence and inaction in the face of his outrageous condescension toward them, have shown themselves to be terrible cowards.  The hearings that placed a maudlin Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court displayed the moral bankruptcy of Trump’s Senate collaborators.

The condition of the GOP is highly worrisome because it is the nationally dominant party.  For nearly three years, Trump has been cannibalizing it, eating its heart out, and injecting it with a virulent moral rot.

Meanwhile, the Democrats remain riven; not only do they remain too weak to determine the direction of national politics, but they have yet to unite around a figure or an approach capable of undermining Trump’s popular appeal.

The condition of the parties and their inability to advance a legislative agenda that could rally the nation behind a set of positive political goals, demonstrates to the nation that Trump is in fact unchecked and unchallenged.  Congress can’t counter the president’s power.  Watching this bizarre situation unfold every day leads many of us to perceive the federal government, and hence the entire republic of the United States, to be dangerously near a breakdown of an unpredictable kind.

That there is no leadership—that there is no coalition mobilizing and unifying an opposition—is perhaps because, though we all perceive the political actions of the president to be highly abnormal, and we all perceive the relations between the president and Congress to be in near-paralysis—what danger we are on the brink of is very unclear.  Personally, I doubt the president can be impeached (that is, I don’t think the Senate has the will to convict him and throw him out–please see the post I have written on this subject), so even if we agree our affairs are in a critical state, the most constructive course is to concentrate on positive politics, on mobilizing opposition to Trump across party lines, and defeating Trump at the ballot box. 

I hope we will see a resurgence of party control and even deal-making among rival candidates—this is the only way to achieve the necessary degree of unity in either party. If the Democrats have a long slug fest like they did last time, there won’t be enough time before the general to get everyone behind the chosen nominee. The challenge is even greater on the Republican side, where I hope we will see some more conventional players (like Romney and Flake) perhaps teaming up to try to rob Trump of the nomination.

The prospect of a unified opposition isn’t too bright, however.  Presidential hopefuls who aren’t equipped to beat Trump or run the country are already throwing their hats in the ring.  If the national parties can’t exercise discipline over such narcissistic candidates, divisions will increase, allowing Trump to retain his ascendancy.  The lost art of pulling together is all-important now.