Political News

Donald Trump's Minnesota pipe dream

Posted October 21, 2019 6:31 p.m. EDT

— In the wake of a recent "Keep America Great" rally in Minneapolis, President Donald Trump tweeted this: "We are going to fight with all of our heart and soul and we are going to win the great state of Minnesota in 2020."

But probably not actually, at least according to a new poll conducted for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and released Monday. In it, Trump trails both former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren by double-digits in the state while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders holds a 49% to 40% edge over the incumbent.

Those wide margins are a far cry from Trump's near-miss in Minnesota in 2016 when he lost by 44,000 votes out of more than 2.6 million cast -- one of the closest margins in the country.

Now, it's currently October 2019, not November 2020. And as J. Patrick Coolican of the Strib noted in a recent piece that Trump's 2020 campaign is already spending heavily in a state that has two things that should work in Trump's favor: 1) A large number of white, working-class voters and 2) a booming economy.

Even so, these poll numbers have to put something of a damper on the Trump campaign's much-publicized hopes of putting Minnesota in their column. That same Star Tribune poll put Trump's job approval at just 40%, a very tough starting place to begin a winning campaign.

To be clear: Trump doesn't need to win Minnesota to get reelected. He didn't win the state in 2016 and won the Electoral College relatively easily.

The bigger issue here for Trump is whether his numbers in Minnesota are indicative of a broader weakness across the industrial Midwest -- Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin -- where he won the 2016 election. Trump's job approval numbers in these states has been consistent with the numbers in the Star Tribune poll for at least the last year. If that trend continues, his path to a second term narrows significantly.

The Point: Trump's 2020 electoral map is already quite narrow. If his Minnesota numbers indicate a broader softening in the region, look out.

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