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:
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:
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.
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.