In the short run, it’s entirely possible President Trump gets clobbered in the electoral college. Morning Consult polls his approval in all 50 states and finds him net negative in critical states such as Michigan (-12), Wisconsin (-13), Iowa (-12), Pennsylvania (-7), Colorado (-14) and Arizona (-6).
That is precisely why the Trump team is talking about “expanding the map” — but to where? The Trump brain trust says it is looking at New Hampshire (-19), New Mexico (-15) and Nevada (-11). Those, you see, are as bad for Trump as the unexpanded map.
Take Michigan, which was critical to Trump’s win. He won by about 11,000 votes. His approval there is now -12, and in head-to-head matchups in the latest Detroit News poll, he loses to former vice president Joe Biden; Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.); and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. That’s before the full effect of his trade war with China and the upcoming trade war with Mexico (which could devastate supply chains for the auto industry) hits.
To be sure, Democrats could blow it by nominating someone with obvious flaws and/or someone easily painted as a wide-eyed radical, but it doesn’t look bad for Democrats at this point. The Republicans’ grip on the Senate majority is weakening, as well — especially if a couple of the current presidential candidates drop out and decide to run for the Senate. Put it this way: It’s conceivable that Democrats could win the presidency with a comfortable electoral college, hold the House and win the Senate. So maybe the problem isn’t the electoral college so much as Democrats’ failure to secure winnable states in 2016.
And though I don’t relish the prospect, it is very likely that should Democrats win the Senate, there will be a push to do away with the filibuster — at least with respect to adding states (e.g., Puerto Rico). (The District of Columbia would require a constitutional amendment to get representatives and senators.) If they can, Democrats may very well take a run at expanding or redoing the rules for appointing Supreme Court justices.
I mention these items not only because some are justified by recent events (e.g., the utter neglect of Puerto Rico) but also because our Constitution provides latitude short of amendments for correcting imbalances and inequities.
It all starts with winning elections, however. There is no substitute for victory, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- Calif.) knows. (“Majority, majority, majority!” she likes to recite.) As infuriating and frightening as the Trump presidency is, the 2018 midterm elections demonstrated that the electorate does self-correct from time to time. And when it does, watch for Republicans to plead in favor of the filibuster and claim they do dearly care about Puerto Rico, even if it’s not a state. Democrats can not only pursue their legislative agenda but also correct some unintended imbalances (a court shredded by partisanship, a minority party’s lock on the Senate, etc.) — but it all starts with winning in 2020.