Sputnik: What role will those who first voted for Obama and then switched to Trump play in the 2020 campaign? Was this flip factor the main reason behind Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016?
Noah Rudnick: A lot of the flip factor is just general anger with the current situation, these voters are more fickle and a campaign trying to capture Obama’s legacy probably fails if it can’t answer how they’re supposed to be better than 4 years ago. It helped Trump but Biden will need to forge his own path and promise a return to a normalcy that can still be improved on.
Sputnik: Joe Biden is trying to portray himself as a moderate voice in the upcoming Democratic primaries. Could a “grown-up” campaign and moderate slogans help Biden convince enough people in order to win the nomination?
Noah Rudnick: Absolutely, the thing with the Democratic party is that there is still a clear bloc of those that don’t want rapid liberal change and as Beto or say Klobuchar falters, Biden has that lane to himself as everyone else rushes left, dividing the opposition.
Noah Rudnick: It probably helps; a lot of voters just kind of see one or two things and make up their mind there. 2018 showed that 2016 had a real political alignment, even people with big names and established history (Dems in rural areas, GOP in suburban) flopped and national trends won out. Biden probably can’t get killed in rural areas but as say the Nevada Senate race last cycle showed, you just run out of warm bodies in the rural areas and winning suburbanites is enough even with Clinton’s poor margins in the rural areas.
Sputnik: A September 2017 poll found that 70% of Obama voters who switched to Trump approved of the job that he was doing as president. Most of the swing states in 2016 were won by just a couple of thousand votes. Does this mean that Trump’s second term will critically depend on this voter group?
Noah Rudnick: Trump needs a lot of people to keep the same coalition together, especially if his opponent is a Biden and 3rd party is lower than usual, and probably needs to expand his appeal. I remember the poll you mentioned and the big divide there was education, which expanded out too, and so what non-degree holders who only had selectively high turnout in the midterms bother to show up, it could depend on the dem candidate and the message they take. I still personally believe, and I think the midterms only reinforced this, is that the Romney/Clinton or Romney/3rd party voters are the real key swing bloc along with things like rural areas and black turnout as secondary base boosters, and they could want a checks and balances like why they kept GOP congress as their vote in 2016 when they thought Clinton would win. It may be harder post 2016 for the GOP to make this argument if people are sceptical of polls even if they show a blowout, but the head to head polling probably means much more than a handful of lower turnout Obama/Trump voters. Sorry to go on a tangent there, but these voters are easier to get a handle on.
Noah Rudnick: There will likely be some protest voting if he’s the nominee, there’s always a Green Party to run to, though their own nominee is uncertain, or if Amash runs as a non-interventionist millennial for the Libertarian Party, he could siphon votes away. In 2016, Clinton was seen as a right wing hawk, and third party voting was actually unusually low in college areas and far under the 2016 regression lines, so it’s tough to tell and he could be bled but defection just wasn’t huge for Clinton and may not be.
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