President Trump campaigned in Pennsylvania on Monday, rallying supporters in the city of Montoursville some 18 months before he’s actually on the ballot.
Not that this was a surprising development, of course. During the 28 months that he’s been in office, Trump has held scores of political rallies, most centered on his own reelection. He’s visited Pennsylvania itself — a state he narrowly won three years ago — on 12 different days during his time in office, usually for political events.
Trump has a thing for red states. Of the 30 states that he won in 2016, Trump has visited 25. Of the 20 he lost, he’s only visited 11.
Many of the states he’s visited he’s only gone to once or twice. But there are a few states that he’s gone to over and over and over again. To capture that, we looked not only at how often Trump’s visited each state but also the number of full or partial days on which he visited the state. It looks like this.
Here the outliers are obvious: Florida, New Jersey and Virginia. All three are states where — you guessed it — there’s a Trump Organization property that Trump likes to visit. In Florida it’s Mar-a-Lago, his winter weekend getaway. In New Jersey, his golf club in Bedminster. In Virginia, it’s his company’s golf course near D.C.
Not only has he visited more red states, he’s also spent more visit-days (full or partial days spent in a state) in them, by a narrow margin. (On 363 of his 854 days in office, Trump’s visited one of the 50 states or — on one day — Puerto Rico.) If we take out the outlier states, though, the gulf between the two grows.
There’s not really a relationship between the margin of victory (or loss) in a state and the number of times Trump has visited. In part, that’s because he’s gone to Jersey, Florida and Virginia so much.
So let’s look at another metric: The number of visit-days as a function of population. When we look at that (the number of days Trump has been in a state as a function of the number of people who live there), Florida’s prominence diminishes. Instead, we see West Virginia, North Dakota and Montana rise — all states Trump won handily and all states whose relatively small populations have had a decent chance of seeing Trump in person. (The circles below are scaled to the total number of visit-days in each state.)
Another way of looking at this is to consider the states directly. Trump has spent at least some of eight different days that he has been president in the state of West Virginia, with its population of 1.8 million. He’s spent at least some of four days in California, where the population is 22 times as large. Yes, he’s probably not going to win California in 2020, after losing it by 30 points three years ago. But he’s also not going to lose West Virginia, where he won by 42 points — one of his largest margins of victory anywhere.
Part of the reason he’s gone to red states so much is that much of his travel was tied to last year’s midterm elections. He spent a lot of time bolstering red-state Senate candidates over the course of that effort.
But part of the reason, too, is clearly that Trump would much rather go to places where people like him than places where they don’t.