An Electoral College map detailing a possible prediction for the 2020 presidential election is getting some modest shares across social media, as it purports that President Donald Trump would lose in a landslide to a generic Democratic candidate.
There are, of course, some major caveats to be considered.
The map, shared in a tweet below by political strategist Matt Rogers, showcases Trump’s possible loss in 2020. It is based on projections that are taken from the president’s current state-by-state approval ratings.
States with net positive approval ratings are considered “wins” for Trump, while states that have net negative approval ratings are considered “losses” for him. As a result of those considerations, the map suggests Trump would only be able to garner 211 Electoral College votes if the election were held today, with the Democrat picking up 327 — 57 more Electoral College votes than are needed to win the election.
— Matt Rogers 🎙 (@Politidope) July 24, 2019
For those who are opposed to Trump’s presidency, this map gives them some hope. But there are serious problems with the calculations here.
First, we don’t know who the eventual Democratic nominee is going to be. Trump might fare better against one candidate and do worse against another. This map doesn’t allow for that point to be considered.
Second, approval ratings don’t always translate into a citizenry’s opinions on a candidate. In fact, a number of conservative voters may disapprove of the president for not being “right enough,” and be included in the disapproval totals. Certainly, those individuals won’t vote for the Democrat in 2020.
The map above also doesn’t take into consideration margins of error. As reporting from Oregon Live points out, Trump’s approval in Florida is 49 percent, but the margin of error for whatever poll that number is derived from likely means Trump’s approval rating in the Sunshine State could theoretically be anywhere from 46 percent to 52 percent. In spite of that, the state is placed in the Democrats’ column.
Historically, approval ratings haven’t always been a barometer for how well a president may do in re-election campaigns. Former President Bill Clinton, for instance, had an approval rating of just 42 percent at the start of 1996, but went on to defeat Republican Bob Dole in that year’s race. Former President Barack Obama also sat at 44 percent approval rating nationwide in January 2012, but defeated Republican contender Mitt Romney in November.
It’s far too soon to be making predictions of any kind, and predictions based off of approval ratings are problematic to begin with. Still, the map’s limitations aren’t indicative that Trump’s re-election campaign is going to be a walk in the park, either.
If anything, this map shows that the race is going to be a close one, as the incumbent typically is considered the favorite to win, and this map shows Trump has some serious issues to address before the campaign starts in earnest.