Diary

A Look at the 2020 Election: The Mountain States

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Today, we look at five mountain states and this will be the last analysis involving multiple states because we are moving towards the key states.  Included today are Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming…not necessarily in that order.

Idaho

These first two are no-brainers.  Both Republicans get returned to the House and Jim Risch to the Senate while Trump handily wins the only real sane full state in the Northwest (no offense to the sane people of Oregon and Washington…I know there are some).

Wyoming

The only drama out of this state is which is more red: West Virginia or Wyoming?  Even in an open Senate seat the best the Democrats could do is find a nobody sacrificial lamb to throw out there.  And Trump in a landslide.

New Mexico

This writer had hopes for this state in the Senate race.  The seat is being vacated by Democrat Tom Udall.  Initially, it looked to be a battle on the Democrat side as Ben Lujan vacated the Third District to run for the Senate and looked as if a firebrand liberal in the AOC mold- Maggie Toulouse Oliver- would challenge.  But, she put her tail between her legs and ran for home like most limp-wristed liberals do when confronted with a challenge.  But, in the process Lujan had to lurch considerably to the left and now supports the Green New Deal and Medicare For All.

My hope was that Elisa Martinez- a Native American/Latina pro-life advocate firebreathing conservative would win and present New Mexico voters with a stark choice.  But instead, Mark Ronchetti will likely lose to Lujan.  But all is not lost here.

In the Second District, Democrat Xochitl Torres Small defeated Yvette Herrell in 2018 in an open and very close race.  Trump won this district by 10 points in 2016 and he should be the difference this year.

As for Trump’s chances, he wants to expand the electoral map and New Mexico plays into those plans.  They are betting on enough Hispanic Catholics and rural voters fed up with the Democrat’s leftward lurch on gay rights and abortion.  Trump really did not come that close in 2016, so it may be too much to expect a win here.  But, under the leadership of state party chief Steve Pearce, the GOP appears more organized, consolidated and enthusiastic about a Trump win.  Do I think Trump can realistically win New Mexico?  Not really, but if he does it would not be a major surprise given the attention and resources thus far invested in the state.

Montana

There is a trifecta in Big Sky country- a gubernatorial, Senate and House race.  Greg Gianforte decided to step down as the lone House member and run for governor to replace the term-limited Steve Bullock, a Democrat.  His decision caused some rancor within the state GOP.  This will be Gianforte’s fourth statewide race in five years.  Regardless of any alleged rancor, this is his race to lose.

Of course, that opens up a House seat race where Republican Matt Rosendale will likely prevail although the Democrats believe they have the perfect foil in Kathleen Williams.  Before one discounts her, Montana sometimes surprises and sends Democrats to DC and an open race can sometimes get tricky.

In the Senate race, incumbent Republican Steve Daines takes on Steve Bullock, the term-limited governor who also threw his hat in the presidential sweepstakes but never gained any traction.  For a Democrat, he is somewhat moderate and he was a fairly popular governor in a red state.  His short-lived presidential campaign proved he is an outcast in today’s Democrat Party.  Given these facts and he is a pretty damn good fundraiser, we may have to look at this race later as Election Day nears.  Right now, I think Daines will prevail because there is really no good reason to change course now.

Colorado

A Senate race, the Presidential race and a surprise Congressional race are on tap in Colorjuana.  That surprise Congressional race is in the Third District where Lauren Boebert defeated GOP incumbent Scott Tipton in the primary.  This district encompasses the western part of Colorado and should be sufficiently friendly GOP territory so it should remain in Republican hands.

Instead, all eyes will be on the Senate race where incumbent Corey Gardner faces former governor and presidential candidate John Hicklenhooper.  He had to spend a small fortune to overcome Andrew Romanoff in the Democrat primary.  In a previous posting on Colorado, for Gardner to prevail I listed the following criteria:

  1. Denver county- hell will freeze over before any Republican takes the most populous and liberal county.  Message: Everyone likes money, even liberals, and touting the tax cuts could make inroads with voters.
  2. Jefferson and Arapahoe counties- These are the suburbs of Denver that have been drifting Left. Taking about 50% of the votes would be awesome.  Message: Tout the $300 million in federal funds for transportation projects here Gardner helped secure.
  3. Pueblo county- Gardner did not win Pueblo county in 2014, but Trump did.  This county identifies with the blue collar ethos and the oil and gas industry.  Message: Both Trump and Gardner advocate for this sector.
  4. Weld county- GOP domination in Weld county is a must.  Message: The trade deal with Japan opened up the beef market in that country.  As a result, Weld county sold $1.1 billion worth of cattle and calves making it the second most prolific county in this area in the country.

I further noted:

The GOP has identified 175,000 voters who showed up to vote in 2016 but who sat out the 2018 midterms.  As the figures from the midterms indicate, most of these voters were Republican.  By re-energizing these voters with Trump at the top of the ticket, emphasizing an economic message, and matching Democrat GOTV efforts, there actually is a viable pathway to victory.

Further, this writer is predicting a Gardner squeaker of a victory for another reason: Hicklenhooper fatigue.  Colorado voters dealt with him for eight years as a governor and as a presidential candidate.  However, Trump winning this state may be out of the question.

Interesting referendum question: Colorado DOES NOT have a question about pot this year, and they have a question banning abortion after 22 weeks of gestation.

Running Totals

Biden slightly adds to his lead in the electoral vote count 223-136.  In the House, Democrats maintain the lead 155-121 while Republicans take the lead in the Senate 41-39.  Chuck Schumer is crying and Mitch McConnell emerges from his shell and sees a path to victory.

Next: Arizona