Democrats Have A Problem With A Declining Voter Base In Key States: Will This Cost Them In November?

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By Mukurima Muriuki

Yesterday, Donald Trump made an appearance in Joe Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania for a Fox News town hall meeting.

Pennsylvania will be one of the highly contested battleground states in November, but in recent times, it is Republicans who appear to be gaining momentum in the state.

In Lackawanna County where Scranton is the county seat, Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but just by 3,000 votes. In 2012, Barack Obama won the county by a margin of 30,000 votes.  Overall, party registration figures since Trump’s election have shifted almost six percentage points in the Republican party favor.

The decline of the Democratic Party support in areas like Scranton is part of a visible trend in key states where Democrats have traditionally done well.

 The eventual Democratic Party nominee will have a mountain to climb in energizing democrats to turn out to vote in, while curtailing the GOP momentum in these key states.

 There is the possibility that November will mirror the 2018 midterms but let us not forget that after the “Shellacking” Obama’s party received in 2010 midterms, he still went ahead to win the 2012 election.

Let us look at some of these key states:

  1. New Hampshire

In 2008, 384,826 voted for Obama against McCain’s 316,534.

In 2012, Obama’s numbers went down to 369,561 and even if he defeated Romney who garnered 329,918, it is noteworthy that GOP support was on an upward climb.

In 2016, the downward trend for Democrats continued, with Hillary Clinton garnering 348,526 against Trump’s 345,790. The margin of victory was a mere 2,736 votes

It is obvious that in the last few election cycles, Republican support has been on the increase while Democrats support has been on the decline

Democrats cannot afford to lose New Hampshire which has 4 electoral votes.

2. Nevada.

What is interesting about Nevada is that between 2008 and 2016, Democratic Party vote has only grown by 5,524 votes. Meanwhile, the GOP support has grown by a staggering 99,231 votes. In 2012, Barack Obama won Nevada by a margin of 67,806; in 2016, Hillary Clinton won the state by a margin of 27,202 votes.

Will the Republicans continue to dominate Democrats? Will this dominance turn the state red?

What is evident is that the Nevada’s 6 electoral votes will be up for grabs.

3. Minnesota

Minnesota is home to senator Amy Klobuchar. Just like New Hampshire, it has been a downward trend for Democrats since 2008.

In 2008, Obama carried the state with 1,573,354 votes compared to McCain’s 1,275,409-a margin of 297,945 votes. In 2012, Obama’s numbers went down to 1,546,167 and even though he defeated Romney who garnered 1,320,225, it is noteworthy that GOP support was on an upward climb.

In 2016, the downward trend for Democrats continued, with Hillary Clinton garnering 1, 367, 716 against Trump’s 1,322,951. The margin of victory was just 44,765 votes

On Super Tuesday, less that 800,000 Democrats turned out to vote in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s 10 electoral votes will be on the table this November. This is a swing state.

4. Pennsylvania

A deeper dive into Pennsylvania’s numbers also show signs of declining support for Democrats.

In 2008, Obama carried the state with 3,276,363 votes compared to McCain’s 2,655,885 -a margin of 620,478 votes. In 2012, Obama’s numbers went down to 2,990,274 and even though he defeated Romney who garnered 2,680,434, the margin was victory was down by almost half from the 2008 results.  

In 2016, the downward trend for Democrats continued, with Hillary Clinton garnering 2,926,441 against Trump’s 2,970,733. The downward trend had caught up with the Democrats. From 2008 to 2016, the democrats had lost 349,922 votes while Republicans gained 314,848 votes within the same period.

Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes. The eventual democratic party nominee must stop the growth of the Republican party in the state. This is where turn out of young voters becomes important.

5. Wisconsin

Just like the previous states, Wisconsin has also seen a decline in Democratic party support.

 In 2008, Obama carried the state with 1,677,211 votes compared to McCain’s 1,262,393 votes -a margin of 414,818 votes. In 2012, Obama’s numbers went down to 1,620,985 and even though he defeated Romney who garnered 1,407,966, the margin of victory was down by almost half from the 2008 results.  

In 2016, the downward trend for Democrats continued, with Hillary Clinton garnering 1,382,536 against Trump’s 1,405,284. The downward trend had caught up with the Democrats.

From 2008 to 2016, the democrats had lost 294,675 votes while Republicans gained 142,891 votes within the same period.

Wisconsin has 10 electoral votes.  Trade deals will be an important topic during the election.

6. Maine

Just like the previous states, Maine has also seen a decline in Democratic party support.

 In 2008, Obama carried the state with 421,923 votes compared to McCain’s 295,273 votes -a margin of 126,650 votes. In 2012, Obama’s numbers went down to 401,306 and even though he defeated Romney who garnered 292,276, the margin of victory was lower

In 2016, the downward trend for Democrats continued, with Hillary Clinton garnering 357,735 votes against Trump’s 335,593 votes. The margin of victory was only 22,142 votes.

Because of the way Maine allocates it electoral votes, Trump won 1 EV in 2016, with Clinton winning the other 3.

All the 4 electoral votes will be up for grabs in November.

7. Michigan

Just like the previous states, Michigan has also seen a decline in Democratic party support.

 In 2008, Obama carried the state with 2,867,680 votes compared to McCain’s 2,044,405votes -a margin of 823,275 votes. In 2012, Obama’s numbers went down to 2,564,569 and even though he defeated Romney who garnered 292,276, the margin of victory down by half from 2008.

In 2016, the downward trend for Democrats continued, with Hillary Clinton garnering 2,268,839 votes against Trump’s 2,279,543 votes. The downward trend had caught up with the Democrats.

Michigan has 16 electoral votes.

The reality is that pundits talk in terms of how close Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The losses in these key swing states did not just happen overnight-the signs that the Democratic Party has been losing voters have been there for all to see. In 2020, the party has not interrogated the causes, and the thinking that voters will troop back just to defeat Trump without consideration to the reasons they left in the first place, is far-fetched.

Karlyn Borysenko, a Democrat, wrote this interesting piece:

“I think the Democrats have an ass-kicking coming to them in November, and I think most of them will be utterly shocked when it happens, because they’re existing in an echo chamber that is not reflective of the broader reality. I hope it’s a wake-up call that causes them to take a long look in the mirror and really ask themselves how they got here. Maybe then they’ll start listening. I tend to doubt it, but I can hope.”

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