January 2, 2019


Strike the word "split-ticket" from the contemporary American political lexicon. Welcome to the polarized "Era of Trump," which dates back to the "Era of Obama," which began with the "Era of Clinton."

Up until the 1980s, all Democrats voted for a Republican some of the time, and some Democrats voted for a Democrat all of the time, and vice versa. Not anymore. As exacerbated by our polarizing president, and as demonstrated by the 2018 election results, voters now define themselves by who and what they're against. Parties have no meaning, and represent no coherent philosophy.

Everybody who was anti-Trump voted for every Democrat, and everybody who was pro-Trump voted for every Republican. And the so-called "independents," comprising 20 to 30 percent of the electorate and who broke slightly for Trump in key states in 2016, are now just as pro- and anti- as everybody else.

As shown by the Nov. 6 outcome, well over 40 states are in a lockout mode and have become solidly pro- or anti-Trump. A few, such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia and Nevada are in a Republican meltdown, trending decisively anti-Trump, and Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Arizona are on the cusp. This has major implications for 2020, as Trump won the 2016 electoral vote 306-232. Take away PA, MI, FL, AZ and/or WI, Trump states in 2016 with 86 electoral votes, and the president loses big in 2020.

CALIFORNIA: Democratic lockdown (55 electoral votes). Clinton beat Trump in 2016 by a massive margin of 4,269,978, with Trump getting just 31.5 percent. 2020 will be an even bigger blowout. The 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom, crushed Republican John Cox 7,721,410-4,742,825, with Cox losing by 2,978,525 votes. Despite lower turnouts in mid-term elections, Cox received 259,075 more votes than Trump, while Newsom got 1,032,378 fewer votes than Clinton. Maybe it's a Republican rebound? But Republicans lost seven congressional seats, and they are now in a 46-7 minority in the delegation. The legislature is still 2-1 Democratic. There is no Republican party in California.

TEXAS: Republican lockdown (38 electoral votes). Despite incumbent Ted Cruz's scare in the U.S. Senate race, which he won over Beto O'Rourke (D) 4,260,553-4,045,632, a margin of 214,921 votes, or 50.9 percent, Texas is not going blue. Republicans take solace from the fact that the often-insufferable Cruz is even less popular in the state than Trump, but still won. Incumbent governor Greg Abbott (R) won re-election by 1,109,581 votes. The rising Republican star is George P. Bush, son of Jeb Bush, who speaks fluent Spanish. He won re-election as land commissioner by 870,130 votes. He is the future governor. Republicans lost two Dallas-area suburban congressional seats, but kept their 23-13 delegation majority, and lost 15 state House seats, but kept their majorities.

O'Rourke raised $78.9 million, much from small contributors throughout the country, and is likely now off and running for president. Cruz raised $45.2 million. Trump won the state by 807,179 votes in 2016, and will do likewise in 2020, but by a lesser margin.

FLORIDA: Fluid, not yet a Republican meltdown (29 electoral votes). Republicans nominated the right candidate for senator and Democrats the wrong candidate for governor. Governor Rick Scott (R) defeated 18-year senator Bill Nelson (D) by 10,033 votes, largely because Scott had 8 years of TV face time directing evacuations and relief subsequent to Florida's endless hurricanes and natural disasters. The Democrats could have nominated Gwen Graham, daughter of a former senator and governor, but instead chose Andrew Gillum, the African-American mayor of Tallahassee, for governor, setting up a racially-charged contest with congressman Ron DeSantis, who won the Republican primary largely because of Trump's endorsement. DeSantis prevailed by 32,463 votes.

Florida is a state in constant demographic turmoil, with aging Jewish retirees on the east coast's North Miami condo belt passing on, and being replaced by more of the same, and aging gentile retirees on the west coast doing likewise. The Puerto Rican population around Orlando is burgeoning, augmented by about 75,000 refugees after Hurricane Maria and the Cuban population is no longer fixated on Fidel Castro and no longer habitually Republican. Rural voters have become overwhelmingly Republican and the black population is pushing 20 percent. Younger urbanites are solidly anti-Trump. Overall, Florida is inching Democratic, with the part picking up two congressional seats, but Republicans still control the legislature.

Trump won Florida by 112,911 votes, in a turnout of 9.2 million. 2018's turnout was 8.2 million, a million less than 2016's. The Trump/DeSantis/Scott vote was 4,617,886/4,076,186/4,099,505, and the Clinton/Gillum/Nelson vote was 4,504,975/4,043,723/4,089,472. Both the Trump and Clinton vote was down by about 500,000 each. Trump cannot win in 2020 without Florida.

GEORGIA: Fluid, not yet a Republican meltdown. Oprah can work miracles in book sales, but not in Georgia in 2018's governor election. A debate rages as to whether, in hindsight, Democrats picked the right nominee for governor. The choice was between two women state legislators, an African-American from Atlanta or a white from rural Georgia. They picked Stacey Abrams, instantly polarizing the race racially. Blacks comprise 32 percent of the population, and are increasing in number with each passing election. To win, a Republican needs 65-70 percent of the white vote.

The Republicans chose Brian Kemp, the secretary of state who used his post to crusade for "ballot security," meaning removing and/or barring unqualified voters from the rolls. Liberals viewed that as voter suppression directed toward minorities. Kemp won by 54,721 votes in a turnout of 3.9 million, almost equal to 2016's 4 million, when Trump won Georgia by 211,141 votes. The Trump/Kemp vote was 2,089,104/ 1,978,408, and Clinton/Abrams 1,877,963/1,923,685. Clearly, the Republican base is dwindling. Abrams may run for senator in 2020 against incumbent David Perdue (R), prompting another racially tinged contest.

INDIANA: Republican lockdown (11 electoral votes). Hoosier State Republicans aren't pro-Trump. They are pro-Pence. They anticipate that sooner or later, like before 2020, or in 2024, Vice President Mike Pence, a former governor and congressman, will be president. The state never had an abundance of presidential timber, but it did produce two other vice-presidents - Dan Quayle (1988-92) and Thomas Marshall (1912-21) - and one president, Benjamin Harrison (1888-92).

The easy 2018 victory of pro-Trump/Pence businessman Mike Braun (R) by 134,447 votes over incumbent senator Joe Donnelly (D) virtually wipes out the anti-Trump/Democratic bench. Republicans govern the state efficiently; hold the governorship and every statewide office, seven of nine congressional seats, and 2-1 state legislative majorities. Trump-Pence won Indiana by 524,160 votes in 2016. They will do at least as well in 2020.

OHIO: Republican lockdown (18 electoral votes). Status quo is the new norm. Ohio used to be a fiercely competitive state, with class warfare between union Democrats in Cleveland, Toledo, Akron and industrial areas and rural and suburban Republicans in Cincinnati and Columbus. 2016 seems to have brought realignment, with Trump winning Ohio by 446,841 votes - with strong rank-and-file union support. The Democratic Party had become too leftist.

That carried over into 2018. John Kasich (R), an effective and fiscally conservative governor, was term-limited. (He may be planning to run against Trump in the 2020 primaries.) The Republican brand name is still viable in the state and, when added to the pro-Trump base, constitutes a sizeable majority. Democrats hoped an "it's-time-for-a-change" theme would give them the governorship, but Mike DeWine (R), a veteran officeholder - senator, congressman, lieutenant governor, attorney general - won Kasich's job by 164,070 votes. Voters wanted no change, and the Democrats' anti-Trump message was ignored. Republicans kept every state office, the legislature, and their 12-4 congressional majority.

PENNSYLVANIA: Republican meltdown (20 electoral votes). Trump won the state in 2016 by 44,292 votes, but the party's dominance collapsed in 2018, with Governor Tom Wolf (D) winning re-election by 657,589 votes, Democrats winning all statewide offices, Bob Casey Jr.'s senate seat, and losing three congressional seats, in large part because of a court-ordered remap. A 12-6 edge went to 9-9. The legislature is still Republican. A Democrat will carry the state in 2020.

MICHIGAN: Republican meltdown (16 electoral votes). Like in Pennsylvania, a 2018 Republican disaster. Trump won by 10,704 votes, but a Democrat won the governorship by 406,659 votes, replacing term-limited replacing Rick Snyder (R), who had won by 128,342 votes in 2014. Democrats won every state office, picked up two congressional seats, reducing the Republicans' edge from 9-5 to 7-7, but Republicans kept the legislature. A Democrat will carry the state in 2020.

WISCONSIN: Fluid, no meltdown yet (10 electoral votes). Governor Scott Walker (R) governed economically and built a proficient Republican machine in the state. Trump won by 22,748 and senator Ron Johnson was re-elected by over 100,000 votes in 2016. But the state is polarized. Walker won by 136,793 votes in 2014, but lost to Democrat Tony Evers by 29,227 votes in 2018. But Republicans maintained their 5-3 congressional edge and control of the legislature. Trump has a chance, but diminished, to win in 2020.

MISSOURI: Republican lockdown (10 electoral votes). Republicans have total control of the legislature, hold the governorship and all state offices, a 6-2 congressional delegation majority, and both U.S. Senate seats. Incumbent Claire McCaskill (D) was defeated by Josh Hawley, the Republican attorney general, by 125,572 votes. Trump won the state by 523,443 votes, and will do likewise in 2020.