Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - What does the presidential race look like nationally?

  Our presidential primary in the Heart of Dixie is less than two months away. We vote on March 3, 2020. President Donald Trump will be the GOP nominee. It is a foregone conclusion that Trump will carry Alabama in the November general election. 

  One of the most intriguing questions will be which Democratic presidential candidate will win the Alabama Democratic Primary. Longtime Democrat kingpin, Joe Reed, who heads the Alabama Democratic Conference, will have a lot to say about the outcome. It will be interesting to see how former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s late entry into the Democratic race for president fares. 
  Bloomberg is one of the wealthiest men in the world. He is much wealthier than Donald Trump. Inexplicably, Bloomberg chose Alabama as one of the first states that he will run in. It will be interesting to watch what he does in Alabama. This wrinkle will bring national attention to our March 3 Democratic Primary.

  President Trump will not only win the GOP Primary in our state on March 3; he will carry Alabama overwhelmingly in the November general election. Trump carried Alabama with a 63 percent plurality in 2016. He will more than likely match or exceed those numbers again this year. It may make us one of the most pro-Trump red Republican states in America.  

  The Republican presidential nominee, Trump, will not only carry Alabama but also the Deep South and the heartland states of middle America. However, the Democratic nominee for president will win the east and west coasts of our country.

  The hay is in the barn in about 40 states because of our Electoral College system where the winner of the state, even if only by one vote, gets all of the electoral votes of that state. Currently, the Electoral College system favors those of us in smaller "red states." Trump would not have been elected president otherwise. He did not get the most votes cast. Even with the slight Electoral College advantage, the GOP nominee has an uphill climb to beat the Democrat nominee. 

  Folks, we have nine electoral votes. California has 55 electoral votes. Having said that, even though Trump will be favored to win Alabama in the fall election, he enters the national contest a clear underdog. The presidential race will be decided in the battleground states of Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. President Trump has to carry all five of these states to win reelection.

  Current polling shows that President Trump is behind in all five of these pivotal swing states. However, let me remind you again that it is not what the entire electorate feels or how they would vote that counts. What counts is who shows up to vote on Election Day on November 3. Trump’s campaign will focus on firing up and enthusing his base to get out to vote. That was how he won in 2016, and that is his path to victory in 2020.

  Trump could very well win this year’s election. He is raising more money than all the Democrat candidates. Under the Electoral College system, this geographic advantage is so strong that he could lose the popular vote by five million and still win.

  History is also on Trump’s side. Since World War II, presidents have won a second term unless there was a major economic recession, which is always a crucial ingredient in any presidential race. Trump has been the steward of tremendous economic growth over his tenure. Indeed, polls indicate that the economy is his ace in the hole. He has overwhelmingly favorable numbers on the handling of the economy. Trump performs poorly on other policy issues as well as honesty, integrity, and steadiness.

  Again, it is all about turnout. Trump is hanging his hat on a “base strategy” aimed at pleasing his most ardent and passionate followers. The question becomes, will they hang with him if the economy falters? They will in Alabama, but will they in Michigan?

  Sixty years ago in the epic 1960 presidential race between Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat John Kennedy, there were 40 states in play and 10 predetermined. Today, the numbers are reversed. There are only 10 swing states that determine the outcome of the presidential election.

  Another significant change is the age of the presidential candidates. President Trump is 73, Joe Biden is 78, and Bernie Sanders is 79. If Michael Bloomberg makes a move, he is 77. When John F. Kennedy was sworn in, he was only 43 years old.

  About the author: Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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