Diary

A Look at the 2020 Election: America's Bread Basket States

(AP Photo/James Nord)

Today, I will look at six states covering a large swath of the country in terms of landmass running from Minnesota to Oklahoma.  Unfortunately, there are only 31 electoral votes among the six states, but important nevertheless.

Nebraska

Nebraska, like Maine, divides up some of their electoral votes by congressional district.  Because they only have three districts, it really makes no difference.  Ben Sasse, the incumbent Republican Senator and virtue-signaler extraordinaire will easily win reelection against Chris Janicek.  

Keep an eye on Sasse- he might be positioning himself for the post-Trump era in the GOP.  If he could actually accomplish something other than long Facebook postings, it might go a long way.

All three Congressmen are Republican and it will likely stay that way.  If there is any concern, it would be the second district which is basically Omaha, and Don Bacon, a notoriously terrible fundraiser.  He will be up against Kara Eastman, but Trump should be enough for Bacon winning.

South Dakota

I have to include South Dakota because they are, after all, a state.  Sarcasm alert: going on a limb here, but Mike Rounds (Senator) and Dusty Johnson (Congressman) win their efforts.

There are two marijuana questions on the ballot- one for medical use legalization and one for recreational use legalization.  Expect one, if not both, to pass.

North Dakota

Going out on another limb here and predicting Republican Kelly Armstrong will be reelected to the House and Republican Doug Burgum as Governor.  Oh… and Trump will win both North and South Dakota.

Kansas

There is an open Senate race on tap as Republican Pat Roberts is calling it quits.  It was a crowded GOP primary with some big names in the mix while Democrat Barbara Bollier sat back basically unopposed, fundraised, and increased her name recognition.  In the end, Congressman Roger Marshall emerged victorious for the Republicans.  Bollier was a Republican in the state legislature but switched parties in 2018.

Marshall should emerge victorious, although limited polling has shown a relatively close race.  However, Kansas has not elected a Democrat Senator since 1932.

By the end of the night, one is left with the impression that Democrats will still be asking themselves, “What’s the matter with Kansas?”  On the House front, Roger Marshall vacated the First District for the Senate run, but this is a reliably red district.  If the GOP has any chance of a sweep in Kansas it is in the Kansas City-based Third District held by Democrat Shanice Davids.  However, unlike the other gaggle of misfits elected for the Democrats in 2018, she is not a part of some “squad” and has kept a low profile and become “wonkish.”  Although a populist liberal, that low profile should garner her a return to DC.

Oklahoma

First, Jim Inhofe will win his Senate reelection bid for the Republicans against the overmatched and little known opponent, Abby Broyles.

There are five congressional districts with the GOP holding a 4-1 advantage.  It is time for the GOP to recapture the Oklahoma City-based Fifth District through GOTV efforts, ballot harvesting, whatever means necessary and recapture this district from Kendra Horn.

It took a runoff between Stephanie Bice and Terry Neese to decide an opponent which ate up a lot of money, with Bice prevailing.  But, this district is traditionally Republican and despite the GOP runoff, Horn managed to defeat an incumbent by less than 4,000 votes without Trump at the top of the ticket in 2018.  Oklahoma should revert to true GOP form and sweep these five districts. Given the narrow 2018 victory by Horn, rumor is many within the district are not enamored with her performance in DC, especially her impeachment vote.  Meanwhile, Trump takes this state easily.  

Minnesota

This is the most interesting state in this group on several levels. This writer finds Minnesota one of three states- Wisconsin and New Hampshire being the other two- as being troublesome to predict and this year is no different.  Some of it is their somewhat independent, ticket-splitting tendencies, and some of it due to districting.

In the Senate race, Democrat incumbent Tina Smith will face off against former GOP Congressman, the somewhat controversial Jason Lewis.  In retrospect, most of the “controversy” involved his stint on a radio talk show where he was the Howard Stern of Minnesota- a shock jock.  He lost his House seat to Angie Craig in the Second District.  This encompasses the St. Paul suburbs and if Lewis could even prevail here in the first place it says “something.”

Despite the controversy which centered on the use of the word “slut,” he only lost by 5 points.  Meanwhile, Smith looks suspiciously like a female version of John Denver if he was alive today and transgender.  Still and all, it does not look like it is in the stars for Lewis, but it should be entertaining.

The Congressional delegation currently favors the Democrats 5-3.  Because it is such a wildly political landscape, four of those districts are in play evenly divided between the Democrats and Republicans.  In the First District, Republican Jim Hagedorn in this district in the south of the state faces the largely self-funded Dan Feehan.  He faced Feehan in 2018 and won by a scary margin of less than 2,000 votes.  The past two cycles have been decided by less than 3,000 votes and likely will this year. The aforementioned Angie Craig is not out of the woods in the 2nd District and is opposed by Republican Tyler Kistner.

Collin Peterson is the Democrat incumbent in the 7th District which covers about the western third of the state.  He is a perennial target of the GOP, all efforts resulting in failure.  However, his margins of victory have declined over successive cycles from a high of 140,000 in 2008 to less than 12,000 in 2018, a year favorable to Democrats.  Perhaps with Trump on the ticket (he cleaned up in this district in 2016), Peterson’s days may be numbered.  Finally, there is the 8th District held by Republican Pete Stauber and based in Duluth.  This is a true swing district.

This writer is predicting the GOP will pick up a seat here in the House (either the 2nd or 7th) while defending their two vulnerable seats.  Tina Smith will win reelection to the Senate thanks to Minneapolis-St. Paul.  That leaves the presidential race.

In 2016, Trump lost Minnesota by about 44,000 votes.  That was the best performance by a Republican since Ronald Reagan lost by less than 4,000 votes in 1984.  Considerable resources have been invested in Minnesota by the Trump campaign.  Given the electoral history of the state, expecting a Trump victory may be too high of a hill to climb.

However, in some respects, Minnesota may be the surprise Michigan this cycle.  Events on the ground, especially the riots that resulted in Minneapolis-St. Paul in the aftermath of the Floyd incident and continued sporadic violence may be wearing thin on voters this year.

In 2016, 8.5% of the Presidential vote went to third party candidates collectively.  That is a large chunk of the voting population.  There is no Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, or Evan McMullin this year, just a little known Libertarian candidate.  In 2016, Johnson pulled in almost 113,000 votes.  If Trump could capture just 40% of those voters while keeping Biden voters at bay, he could win Minnesota.

At this point, with a huge caveat to return later in the series, I will give this state to Biden in a squeaker of a race.  We may be looking at a final result long after the polls close and Minnesota 2020 may be Florida 2000.  Maybe the Russians can buy some Facebook ads…

Running Totals

Trump narrows the gap again, but still trails 154-114 in the electoral vote count.  Republicans further narrow the gap in the House but still trail the Democrats 104-97 while things get dicey for the Democrats and the Senate stands tied 32-32 now.

Next

California where the action will be at the Congressional level, Utah, and Nevada.