‘Negative Partisanship’ model predicts Trump defeat in 2020, as complacent 2016 Democrats are sparked by fear of 2nd term
NEWPORT NEWS, VA — Sixteen months before the 2020 presidential election, the American electorate is already locked into hyper-polarized and motivated factions that spell defeat for President Trump, according to an election forecast model designed by Dr. Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.
“Trump’s 2016 path to the White House was the political equivalent of getting dealt a Royal Flush in poker,” says Bitecofer. "It's probably not replicable in 2020 with an agitated Democratic electorate.” In 2018, Bitecofer's "Negative Partisanship" model predicted the 40-seat gain by Democrats in the midterm elections almost to the seat – four months before the polls opened, when other election forecasts were still debating whether the Democrats could pick up the 23 seats needed to take control of the House. She has refined the model with state-by-state voting data from 2018, and predicts that 2020 turnout in both parties will surge beyond the 2016 numbers.
Trump will be competitive, she says, but a repeat of the Democratic and Democratic-leaning Independent voter backlash evident in 2018 will determine the result.
With 270 votes needed to win in the Electoral College, Bitecofer forecasts the map as starting at 279 votes for the Democrats and 197 for the Republicans, with an additional 62 a tossup. Bitecofer predicts that the Democratic nominee will likely carry Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in 2020, a key turnaround from 2016, and one that blocks Trump’s path to a second term. She identifies Arizona, Iowa, Florida and North Carolina as swing states.
“The country’s hyperpartisan and polarized environment has largely set the conditions of the 2020 election in stone,” Bitecofer says. “The complacent electorate of 2016, who were convinced Trump would never be president, has been replaced with the terrified electorate of 2020. Under my model, that distinction is not only important, it is everything.”
The full forecast, analysis and Electoral College map are available at the Wason Center website.
About the Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy
The Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy was established in 2007 to provide unbiased and non-partisan scientific research about public policy issues facing Virginia. Without such information, Virginia’s elected leaders face increasingly difficult decisions with little guidance and feedback from the citizens they represent. This dialogue between the public and policy makers on important issues facing the Commonwealth is fundamental to the development of good public policy. For more information and links to previous research visit http://wasoncenter.cnu.edu. Follow us on twitter @WasonCenter.