Due to COVID-19, our world has turned upside down. But conventional wisdom on the election of 2020 remains stuck in place: it all comes down to Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. They are seared into the minds of every potential voter as the winning trio for 2020. Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE won these states by less than two percentage points and if they turn in 2020, we have a new president. If they stay the same, we are told that the presidency stays the same. But this is not so.
For Democrats, there is another clear path to victory.
Arizona has 11 electoral votes, one more than Wisconsin. Arizona has a Democratic senator, Kyrsten Sinema. Sen. Sinema was the first Democrat elected to the Senate in Arizona in 30 years. In the race for the Senate seat vacated when John McCainJohn Sidney McCain20 years after 9/11, US foreign policy still struggles for balance What the chaos in Afghanistan can remind us about the importance of protecting democracy at home 'The View' plans series of conservative women as temporary McCain replacements MORE (R-Ariz.) passed away, Mark Kelly is running against appointed incumbent Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Senate passes infrastructure bill, budget resolution; Cuomo resigns Schumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up GOP group launches million ad campaign pressing Kelly on filibuster MORE (R-Ariz.). Mark Kelly, astronaut, gun reform leader, is well ahead in the polls. It is possible that Arizona has two Democrats in the Senate. At the same time, the Democratic nominee for president, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Did President Biden institute a vaccine mandate for only half the nation's teachers? Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE, is ahead of Trump in all the Arizona polls.
The Democrats have a solid shot at Arizona in 2020.
The implications of a Democratic Party victory in November here are huge. If Joe Biden wins the Grand Canyon State, the Democrats will likely have taken California, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, too. In the past, we have had a Blue Wall in the Midwest and East. This is the Blue Wave that will lead the party well into the future.
It is not just Arizona that can turn the tide. I almost hesitate to say it, because we have all wondered for a while whether and when this would occur but it may be time — Texas is tilting. The biggest state by landmass in the continental U.S. saw Democrat Beto O’Rourke fall to Republican Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant More than 10,000 migrants await processing under bridge in Texas Senators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State MORE by just two points in 2018. That race was a harbinger of things to come. Big cities in Texas are now all blue: San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Dallas. Latinos make up more and more of the vote in Texas. Comparing 2014 to 2018, for instance, some parts of Texas saw the Latino vote increased by 300 percent. Add to that the current state of the Lone Star state: the Dallas Morning News/University of Texas Tyler poll has the race a dead heat, at 43 percent for Joe Biden and 43 percent for Donald Trump.
Texas is in play, people.
How can we be sure to turn these purple states blue? Investment is key. We will not win these states without solid investments in the ground game, and the truth is none of us know what that ground game will look like this fall. What we can do right now is go full force into digital campaigning. What we can do is get on air on tv and radio. What we can do is make sure people are able to receive and mail in their ballots.
To be sure, Colorado and Nevada cannot be taken for granted. We cannot look past these states because if we do, Trump may win them just as he did when we neglected Wisconsin. Keep in mind that the Democrats won in Nevada in 2016 by less than three points and Colorado by less than five.
Colorado and Nevada require our full attention.
So, yes, by all means, let’s do all we can to win the 16 electoral votes in Michigan. To win 10 in Wisconsin. To win 20 electoral votes in Pennsylvania. But let’s not forget — if we win 11 electoral votes in Arizona, we win one more vote than in Wisconsin. If we win Texas and its 38 electoral votes, the second biggest prize in the country, it is game over.
You may ask, how did we suddenly get to a position where Democrats may win Western states that were unwinnable just a few years ago? We knew demographics were moving, slowly, in the Party’s favor. But the x-factor is this: the current administration’s vast unpopularity. Unpopularity can cause huge changes in the vote. For example, look at how Ronald Reagan trounced unpopular incumbent Jimmy CarterJimmy CarterAmerica needs a new strategy for Pacific Island Countries Afghanistan and the lessons that history does not offer What's at stake — and in play — for the midterms MORE in 1980. Reagan turned blue states red. Some stayed red for decades. Texas was won by Jimmy Carter in 1976. Reagan won there in 1980 and it has never voted for a Democrat in the presidential election since.
So here it is, for the Democratic Party: a chance to win out West and to form a new Blue Wave and change election dynamics for decades to come. Yes, the world has changed, quickly, drastically, in this time of the pandemic. Technologies that we were adapting to slowly are now ubiquitous. Zoom calls and FaceTime, for example. Political changes such as the tide turning in the West were slow-moving, too, but now they also may happen very quickly.
These changes can only happen if we read the data and then act. And the data is clear: the Democrats have a historic opportunity to win out West. Let’s seize this chance.
Mathew Littman is executive director of the pro-Biden SuperPAC Win the West.