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Will 5 Southwest states and 2 key demographic groups be blue in 2020?

Democrats may be in the process of turning five of the six states that take up our nation’s southwest corner into bastions of blue strength, New York Times columnist Thomas Edsall writes.

I don’t want to be that guy who can’t stop writing about the next election, even when there are still votes being counted from the last one. (There is still one U.S. House race in California in which Republican David Valadao has not conceded to Democrat T.J. Cox, although most observers have called the race for Cox.)

But New York Times columnist Thomas Edsall’s piece this morning is too interesting not to pass along.

The headline: “Donald Trump’s Dimming Prospects,” makes clear that even the careful Edsall can’t resist looking toward 2020.

The good news for Trump, according to one of the Ohio-based analysts that Edsall quotes, is that Ohio, which for many cycles has been one of the two key swing states, has become redder. He writes:

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Herb Asher, professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State and a longtime observer of local politics, was not optimistic about Democratic chances in the state in 2020. In an email, Asher wrote: ‘In statewide contests in Ohio, including for president, in a balanced political environment, the G.O.P. enjoys a 3 to 5 percent advantage from the outset.’

There is disagreement within the column, about Ohio. But the idea that Ohio and Florida are the key swing states in presidential elections has been fundamental to political analysts for a long time, so I had to pass along the possibility that we might need to update our thinking.

(In 13 out of the last 14 presidential elections, the winner has carried both Ohio and Florida. In 1992, the winner, Bill Clinton, carried Ohio but lost Florida.)

But if Ohio is turning redder, Edsall offers a significant offset. He suggests that Democrats may be in the process of turning five of the six states that take up our nation’s southwest corner into bastions of blue strength. If that happens, it would add to Democratic confidence going into future elections to the party’s existing regional strength in much of the Northeast.

California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado are the five to which Edsall and his sources refer. Utah is the exception. (And, of course, California has been a solid blue state in national elections for a while, but not the others.)

Edsall also cites polling (admittedly from a Democratic research firm called “Catalist”), comparing the last two midterms, and suggesting big changes among key demographic groups in favor of Democrats. And by “key,” I especially mean groups of younger voters, because they are the future, and whites, because Republicans rely on a big majority among whites to offset Democratic strength among nonwhites. If the next generation of white is heading blue, that should be very scary to Republicans. From Edsall’s column:

Catalist found that between 2014 and 2018 white voters aged 18 to 44 shifted sharply in favor of the Democrats. In 2014, whites 18 to 29 supported Democrat candidates by one percentage point; in 2018, these young white voters backed Democrats by 26 points, a substantial 25-point swing.

Whites 30 to 44 went from voting Republican by 21 points in 2014 to backing Democrats by 9 points in 2018, an even larger 30-point shift.