The Goal: White House 2020

Though the storm of the legislative election in the U.S. is over, the presidential hurricane remains. It doesn’t seem that Donald Trump has understood the voters’ message because listening isn’t his strong suit. He takes credit for the “big victory” in the Senate, where the Republicans increased their majority, attacks the media (evidence that nothing is going to change) and dismisses the setback in the House of Representatives, now in Democratic hands. But the era of legislative debauchery, of the White House ruling Congress, is over. Now pacts will have to be made or everything will be blocked.

The results are full of small print and warnings for both sides. There are shifts taking place in the background that could turn out to be decisive in 2020. One is mobilization. These are the first midterms (so called because they take place in the middle of the presidential term) in which the threshold of 100 million voters has been surpassed. Specifically, 113 million people voted, 48 percent of the electorate. In 2014, 39 percent voted. One of the chronic problems is abstention. The rise in early voting is great news. Close to 3.3 million voters between the ages of 18 and 29 used this mechanism, a 188 percent increase from 2014.

The Suburban Vote

There are symptoms that the coalition that carried Barack Obama to the White House in 2008, the Yes We Can, is starting to be rebuilt by women, young people and minorities. Now all that’s needed is to find a candidate capable of defeating Trump — a television animal and excellent rally-leader — who knows how to reach his electorate. Beto O’Rourke, despite his defeat in Texas, has emerged as a new, attractive name and has been added to the familiar list of Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Mike Bloomberg. Pay attention to him.

Another shift taking place is in the suburbs, divided between the urban vote, where the Democrats have an overwhelming lead, and the rural vote, where the Republicans win by 13 points. 50 percent of the electorate is concentrated in the suburbs, which have leaned toward the Republicans in the past 20 years. In 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton by a four percent margin.

Adele Malpass cites demographer Karlyn Bowman in an analysis published on the website Real Clear Politics. She states that the trend started to change in the less populous suburbs, especially among married women. The difference was 49 – 47 percent in favor of the Democrats. In the latest midterms, the margin has increased by ten points to 54 – 44 percent. This has to do with Trump’s sexism. The suburban vote almost led O’Rourke to pull an upset in his Texas battle against Ted Cruz, a Republican heavyweight. He lost by 2.6 percent, but he created an image for himself on a national scale.

The third shift is in Florida. Ever since the issue of the hanging chads that gave George W. Bush the presidency in 2000, it’s become the decisive state in any presidential election (without forgetting about Ohio). It’s the suspense state, where everything is decided by a few votes. Former Republican governor Rick Scott took Bill Nelson’s Senate seat by 21,986 votes, less than 0.5 percent. This is the margin that leads to an automatic recount. Don’t expect miracles, because the results don’t usually change.

The Former Convicts’ Vote

Now comes the important part. In addition to the legislative, local and gubernatorial elections in Florida, there was also a referendum on Amendment 4, which restores the right to vote for prisoners who have completed their sentences, even those who are on parole, as long as they’re not violent or sexual crimes. This affects 1.5 million people of voting age or nine percent of the Florida electorate, many of whom are minorities. In a state where everything is decided by a matter of decimal points, it could be key in 2020.

That year will bring elections for the presidency, the House of Representatives, and a third of the Senate (33 seats). The Republicans will have to defend 21 seats and the Democrats will defend 12, which is more favorable for the latter because in these past midterms they had to defend 25 seats and the Republicans eight. Two of the Republican seats that will hang in the balance are in Maine and Colorado, both states where Hillary Clinton won.

It’s realistic to think there could be turnover. It will depend on the carrying power of a good White House candidate and the work that’s done in the House of Representatives during these two years. It would be catastrophic to be partisan. The Democrats have to stop focusing on Trump alone and move on to making proposals, mobilizing and exciting American citizens.

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