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The Demographic Division that Matters Most

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Democratic nominee for Governor Gretchen Whitmer (C), Democratic U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (L) and U.S. Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence at a campaign rally in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. November 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

The demographic division that counts most in presidential elections has nothing to do with race, gender or income: it involves state boundaries that determine votes in the Electoral College.

By that standard, warning signs from the midterm elections should alarm Republicans looking ahead to 2020. Three states crucial to Trump’s victory in 2016 shifted decisively toward Democrats two years later and Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin combine for 46 electoral votes. Those three states each went GOP by paper-thin margins two years ago, but this year Democratic Senate candidates won easily and Republican gubernatorial nominees also crashed and burned.

Even if Trump holds all the other states he carried last time—including highly competitive Florida, Ohio and Arizona—he’d fall short without Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. Instead of a focus on rallying loyal followers, Trump needs to win independent, suburban votes in these key swing states whose recent desertions could doom GOP prospects.

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