Wednesday, October 7, 2020

NY Times - Trump is in serious trouble in bellwether counties

The New York Times reports on The 10 Bellwether Counties That Show How Trump Is in Serious Trouble. Each one is in a battleground state. Votes from people there will matter a lot — and offer Joe Biden several paths to victory.

In an era of stark political polarization, it is difficult to find any one place that is a true microcosm of the country. But it is possible to find places on which the November election pivots. These communities that hold the key to the vote are as varied as the nation — and they reflect a notable inversion of its politics.

Polls now show Joe Biden with a surprising opportunity to capture Sun Belt suburbs that have voted reliably Republican for decades. He is also performing better than Hillary Clinton did in 2016 — but perhaps not as well as Barack Obama did in 2008 and 2012 — in heavily white, historically blue Frost Belt small towns and midsize cities where Donald Trump enjoyed a breakthrough in 2016.

These 10 bellwether counties — five in Sun Belt battlegrounds, five in the Frost Belt (loosely defined to include Iowa) — could point us toward each state’s winner. They run the gamut from meatpacking hubs to white-collar office parks, and from peach orchards to yacht-dense retiree havens. But there is something they all have in common: Their votes will matter a lot.

To win the White House, Mr. Biden will need to flip some combination of the 10 states Mr. Trump carried by less than 10 points in 2016 (in ascending order of margin): Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Texas and Iowa. Mr. Biden has several paths to victory, and the first three states alone, in addition to every state won by Hillary Clinton, would be enough to put him into the Oval Office.

(Scriber: The latest polls have Biden ahead in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, and Arizona.)

Conversely, Mr. Trump would likely need to win at least eight of those 10 states for a second term. A look at these bellwethers — all either tossups or leaning toward Mr. Biden — makes clear that Mr. Trump is in serious trouble.

I’m going to share just the one closest to home. You can find the others at the above link.

**6. Maricopa County, Ariz. (pop. 4,485,414)

Outlook: Lean Biden

Maricopa County is crucial to the state outcome; it’s home to Phoenix and 62 percent of Arizona’s residents. The county is also a living portrait of why Arizona has become so competitive: It has a young and fast-growing Hispanic population, conservative-leaning retirees from California and elsewhere and a substantial number of Mormons who once reliably voted Republican but remain skeptical of Mr. Trump.

In 2016, Mr. Trump carried Maricopa by three points, down from Mitt Romney’s 11-point margin in 2012. In 2018, the Democrat Kyrsten Sinema carried it by four points en route to winning a Senate seat, aided by gains in highly professional suburbs.

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