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Current Presidential Disapproval Shows 131 Electoral College Votes Swingable to Democratic Nominee

The Brown County Democrats will be conducting a straw poll on the Democratic Presidential candidates at the Brown County Fair next week. The results don’t matter, because (1) it’s a straw poll, (2) none of those 24 candidates will be at the Brown County Fair, (3) no more than two of them will spend any significant time meaningfully campaigning in South Dakota, and any such meaningful campaigning won’t happen here for another nine months, (4) the ultimate Democratic nominee won’t set foot here again after the primary, if at all, (5) that nominee won’t win here anyway, and (6) every one of them could do the job better than the current TV-Watcher-in-Chief, so why not focus South Dakota voters’ attention on meaningful Legislative races and ballot questions where their votes can make a real difference?

That said, there is a strong chance that the Democratic nominee will win the 2020 election. Consider the Electoral College map, marked here with the 2016 votes:

Electoral College, 2016 Results, from, downloaded 2019.08.07.
Electoral College, 2016 Results, from, downloaded 2019.08.07.

Now consider the net approval ratings of the Republican incumbent in each state, as updated by Morning Consult. Net approval is shown by color: stronger red means more people disapprove of the Republican occupant of the White House than approve; stronger turquoise indicates the opposite. I have marked states showing net disapproval of 4 points or more with the Electoral College votes that would, one would hope, go for the Democratic nominee:

Trump approval by state, as measured by Morning Consult, July 2019, with Electoral College votes superimposed on states disapproving by 4 points or more.
Trump approval by state, as measured by Morning Consult, July 2019, with Electoral College votes superimposed on states disapproving by 4 points or more.

South Dakota remains confused about its morals, giving the immoral occupant of the White House a ten-point net approval rating. That makes us the second-Trumpiest state in the region, behind only Wyoming, which is at 21. Net approval is in double digits in nine other states: Idaho, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and South Carolina.

The blue-bordered numbers mark six states—Arizona, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania—where the 2016 Electors voted for the Republican but now would appear eager to replace him with someone able to do the job. Those six states hold 81 Electoral College votes. It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the Presidency.

In 2016, the Republicans won 306 pledged electors. The Democrats won 232. (We’ll ignore the faithless electors.) Add 81 from those disapproving states, and the Dems have 313.

Add one more from Maine, which split its Electoral College votes in 2016 (3 for the Dems, 1 for the GOP), then push hard to win Nebraska, North Carolina, and Florida, all of which went GOP in 2016 but now net-disapprove of their pick’s performance by one point, and we throw another 50 Electoral votes to the Democratic nominee, for a total of 363.

Morning Consult’s data show not one state that voted for the Democrat in 2016 that now net-approves of the Republican incumbent.

There appear to be 131 Electoral votes in play right now, with six states that are easy gets and three that are at least fair fights. Those states will see the bulk of the campaign action; South Dakota will remain an afterthought.

So let’s focus our attention on the issues where South Dakota votes will make a difference: the Legislative races (for which the Democrats promise to field competitive candidates) and the ballot measures that will affect our local democracy.


  1. Buckobear 2019-08-07 06:41

    Aha!! Once again we beat Mississippi.

  2. Debbo 2019-08-07 21:27

    Which of those possible states vote on paperless machines? You know, the ones so susceptible to GOP/Pootie hacking. I think that’s very important. Of course the GOP/Pootie will cheat–again, without hesitation.

    Moscow Mitch is unconcerned that he’s so strongly disapproved of in Kentucky because the maker of the state’s paperless machines is a big Moscow Mitch donor.

  3. Debbo 2019-08-07 23:00

    I wonder if Democrats ought to use Moscow Mitch as a political point in US Senate and presidential races? After the latest white supremacist terrorist attacks, Moscow Mitch’s refusal to even allow gun law discussion is really enraging people.

    “On Monday, Black Lives Matter Louisville leader Chanelle Helm said in a live video of the protest outside of McConnell’s Highlands-area home that instead of falling and injuring his shoulder over the weekend, the GOP leader ‘should have broken his little raggedy, wrinkled-(expletive) neck.'”

    That’s one of the strongest comments, but there are plenty more by people of various skin colors, social and economic classes.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-08-07 23:10

    (Curious: can you distinguish for me calling the Senate Majority Leader “Moscow Mitch” and calling Democrats disciples of Lenin and Stalin?)

  5. Debbo 2019-08-07 23:51

    Cory, I think it’s probably fine to refer to any Democrat as a Lenin or Stalin disciple when they go to Russia for the purpose of visiting the grave of either one.

    On the other hand, Moscow Mitch visited Pootie on the anniversary of this nation’s birth. That seemed quite notable. In addition, MM has refused to take any action to protect this country against Russian election meddling.

    Hmmmm. Yes, I see a difference between the suitability of “Moscow Mitch” and claiming Democrats follow Lenin and Stalin. The former is supported by his actions. The latter is not shown by similar behavior on the part of the Democrats.

  6. Shirley Moore 2019-08-08 07:39

    If South Dakota votes against the electoral college, those nice Dem leaning states will see that our votes won’t be necessary for years to come.

  7. Debbo 2019-08-08 16:08

    By Mike Allen on Axios:

    David Plouffe, manager of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and a pioneer in grassroots organizing, will be out March 3 with “A Citizen’s Guide to Beating Donald Trump” (Viking), including his advice to 2020 voters and campaigns.

    Plouffe’s message: “The only way change happens, especially on scale, is one human being talking to another. … [I]t won’t happen because of debates and conventions, it won’t happen because of ads. It will happen because citizens take action.”

    Plouffe told me in an interview that because Trump is a master at dominating attention, “we need to have millions of people out there who are talking to that fairly small universe of [persuadable] people in those battleground states.”

    “I think the affirmative case is as important, if not more important, than a negative case,” Plouffe said.

    “So we need a nominee and volunteers who are passionate to say, ‘You know what? I really think this person will be a good president — they’re not just an antidote to getting rid of Trump.'”

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-08-08 21:34

    Thanks, Debbo. Just checking for a good reason. Carry on.

    Shirley! Nice to hear from you! Absent many changes, the Democratic nominee has no reason to campaign here.

    Eliminating the Electoral College might not bring candidates here, but it might keep some local volunteers here and help local parties recruit activists. Presidential politics gets too much attention… but when it mobilizes people to participate, they want to get out and do some good, and parties want to be able to put them to work. People who want to campaign for the Presidential nominees in South Dakota need to go to Iowa, Minnesota, or Nebraska to make a difference, or they get on the phone and start calling voters far away. They don’t have much reason to get out and canvass among their neighbors, whose votes for the Democratic nominee will be for naught. If every vote counted equally across the country, rousing a hundred more voters for the Democratic nominee in Aberdeen would mean just as much as reaching the same quota in Sioux City or St. Paul or New York City.

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