Here's an odd little bit of political news that says something about today's odd political climate:
According to a report this week from CNN, the campaign to re-elect President Donald Trump is considering whether to invest resources in Oregon during the 2020 race.
That's right, Oregon — a state where Trump lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton by 11 percentage points in 2016. No Republican presidential candidate has carried Oregon since 1984. The last Republican presidential candidate to invest significant resources in Oregon was George W. Bush in 2004, but he lost the state by 4 percentage points to John Kerry.
And the state appears to be increasingly inhospitable to Republican candidates. Just take a look at the number of registered voters in the state: Figures for May 2019 show 964,106 voters registered as Democrats against 701,392 Republicans, a gap of more than 260,000 voters. The gap has grown a bit over the last 12 months.
So it's a long shot that Trump can win the state and claim its seven Electoral College votes, and Trump's campaign knows that.
But the Trump campaign is loaded with cash, and likely won't have to worry about any serious opposition in the primaries. (This is the part of the reason why Trump may be difficult to defeat in the 2020 election.) So the campaign is starting to kick around various backup strategies in the event that it needs to find a different path to the 270 Electoral College votes required to win the presidency.
For example, the campaign believes that states Trump won in 2016 such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Iowa, might be up for grabs in 2020. And so campaign officials are looking for options in case any of those battleground states turn blue in next year's election.
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That's why the campaign already has placed resources in places like New Hampshire, New Mexico and Nevada — states that Trump lost in 2016 but which campaign officials think might be winnable in 2020.
And, to be completely fair, Trump has scored victories in states that seemed like long shots at the time: Who would have thought four years ago that he would be able to carry Wisconsin and Michigan?
So when the Trump campaign says it's interested in "expanding the map" and exploring different ways in which its candidate can claim 270 Electoral College votes, it's worth noting.
And the CNN report contained an extra bit of information that possibly caught the attention of U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, who has represented the state's 4th Congressional District since 1987. CNN reported that the National Republican Congressional Committee is hoping to recruit a strong challenger to DeFazio in the 2020 campaign. DeFazio hasn't been seriously challenged since 2010, when he pulled just 54% of the vote against Republican challenger Art Robinson; since then, he's racked up four straight wins against Robinson, who routinely wins the GOP primary thanks primarily to name recognition.
On paper, the 4th district is only marginally Democratic; in the 2016 presidential election, it supported Clinton, but by only 0.1 percentage point. But considering DeFazio's long tenure, our guess is that a Republican victory here is about as likely as Trump winning in Oregon.
But the news about Trump's campaign testing the waters in Oregon didn't go unnoticed by the late night talk show "Late Night With Seth Meyers." This week, as The Oregonian reported, Meyers not only reported the news but also took a shot at the state. Meyers said: “According to CNN, the Trump campaign is attempting to find ways of winning the historically Democratic state of Oregon in 2020. Well, the first step will be convincing them that it’s 2020.”
As Meyers delivered the joke, viewers saw a shot of a young man with one of those thick Portland beards, wearing a white shirt with suspenders and a bow tie and standing next to a bicycle. To paraphrase Homer Simpson: It's funny 'cause it's true. (mm)