Frank Cannon: How the GOP Can Win Michigan in 2020
From APP president Frank Cannon’s op-ed in The American Conservative:
Election Day 2020 is now just under 200 days away. In pandemic time, that probably translates to about 200 years away. Nevertheless, presidential campaigns are beginning to ramp up, and as each side finalizes its strategy for the coming months, one state is likely to be among the highest priorities for both camps: Michigan.
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Wolverine State was already being discussed as a top battleground. It was one of the most closely contested states of the 2016 cycle, with President Trump carrying it by only about 10,000 votes. Its 16 electoral votes vastly shift the 2020 White House odds depending on who wins them. And it is also a rare potential pick up opportunity for the Senate GOP this year in what could prove to be an uphill battle to hold the chamber.
However, the coronavirus has also shifted Michigan even further into the spotlight. As an early disease hotspot, the state’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has garnered a great deal of media attention, and she’s now showing up on many of the party’s vice president shortlists. But her draconian shutdown restrictions in response to the virus, some of the strictest in the country, have also galvanized large protests and turned the state into a flashpoint in the debate over when and how to reopen America’s economy. These issues are likely to define the presidential campaign as we head into the fall.
Current polling in Michigan suggests the race will once again be a close one—for example, a survey commissioned earlier this month by my own organization, American Principles Project, showed President Trump and Joe Biden in a dead heat and the state’s Senate race within the margin of error as well. For Trump and Republicans, finding an issue to give them an edge will be critical. Of course, defining the President’s response to the coronavirus and its economic impacts will be a significant factor. But another issue may also loom as a potential game changer.