In a recent post, I made three predictions:

  1. Donald Trump won’t win any states in 2020 that he didn’t win in 2016 (current confidence: 100%).
  2. Wisconsin goes blue in 2020 (current confidence: 99.x%).
  3. Florida goes blue in 2020 (current confidence: Higher than 50%; the X factor on that is whether or not the Republicans can mount a successful voter suppression campaign against e.g. the constitutional amendment passed by voters last year restoring former felons’ voting rights).
I’m going to set the second and third predictions aside for a moment and come at it from a different angle based on the first one.
In 2016, Trump knocked down 306 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 232. Or, to put it a different way, Clinton came up 38 electoral votes short of victory.
Trump’s absolute ceiling, according to my prediction, is 306. If he didn’t win a state in 2016, he’s not going to win it in 2020 either. He has nowhere to go but down in the Electoral College.
Where is a Democrat most likely to pick up electoral votes from Trump next year?
In my opinion the places to look are states where Trump won by less than 5% in 2016, and the places to look hardest are the states where he won by less than 5%  and a third party candidate or candidates polled 5% or better.

Explanation:

In 2016, Trump won with an energized base versus a demoralized base. His turnout was at the top of its potential; Clinton’s wasn’t. I expect that he will do as well or nearly as well at turning out his base this time as last time — but that the Democrats won’t do as badly at that next time as they did last time.

2016 was a very good year for third party candidates. Not because those candidates were better candidates than third party candidates usually are, but because both the “major” party candidates were so awful. “Wasted vote” PTSD from 2016 is probably going to cost third party candidates votes in 2020, and those votes are going to go disproportionately to the Democratic candidate (especially, but not only, if the Libertarians nominate a “second Republican ticket” for the fourth time in a row).

Arizona — Trump margin of victory, 4.1%, third party total 5.1%, 11 electoral votes
Florida — Trump margin of victory 1.3%, third party total 3.2%, 29 electoral votes
Michigan — Trump margin of victory 0.3%, third party total 5.1%, 16 electoral votes
North Carolina — Trump margin of victory 3.8%, third party total 2.8%, 15 electoral votes
Pennsylvania — Trump margin of victory 1.2%, third party total 3.6%, 20 electoral votes
Wisconsin — Trump margin of victory 1%, third party total 5.2%, 10 electoral votes
That’s 101 electoral votes in play according to my theory. The 2020 Democratic nominee only needs 38 of them.

The closer and the longer I look, the more difficult Trump’s path to re-election looks.

On the other hand, experience tells me that if the Democratic Party can find a way to lose an election, it will find a way to lose that election.
But at the moment, I have to add Michigan to Wisconsin as a “VERY confident Trump will not win” state. Those two and Florida come to 55 electoral votes, bringing the as-yet-unidentified Democratic nominee to 287 and victory.
No, that’s not my final prediction. You’ll see that in October or early November of 2020. But that’s how it looks to me right now.

Imported from the original KN@PPSTER