Here’s what a Sanders-Trump map could look like

CNN’s Harry Enten looks at polling on a matchup between Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and President Donald Trump in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that shows how difficult the path will be for the Democrats to beat Trump in the 2020 election. This report originally aired February 21.

With Bernie Sanders looking more and more like the potential Democratic presidential nominee, the good people at the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia have released their first take on what the electoral map might look like in a matchup between the senator from Vermont and President Donald Trump.

The map allots 260 electoral votes to Trump, 248 to Sanders and puts 30 in the pure toss-up category.

“In our view, we think a Sanders nomination would tilt the election more toward Trump, to the point where the ratings would reflect him as something of a favorite,” write Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman of the map. “However, we would not put Trump over 270 electoral votes in our ratings, at least not initially and based on the information we have now.”

How does that compare with the current Center for Politics map featuring a race between an unknown Democrat and Trump? That map produces 248 electoral votes for each side, with 42 in the pure toss-up category.

The changes from that generic map to the Sanders map? Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia, as well as Nebraska’s 2nd District (Nebraska gives out electoral votes to the popular vote winner of each of its congressional seats), all move in Republicans’ direction.

Explain Kondik and Coleman:

“What we’re doing here is giving the Republicans a boost in places where recent Democratic gains have been fueled by growth in affluent, highly-educated suburbs. Sanders may ultimately replicate Hillary Clinton’s numbers in places like metro Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Phoenix. Still, there are reasons to believe that his left-wing economic and governing philosophy, particularly as contrasted with many Americans’ positive views of the economy, may cost the Democrats some support in these places.”

This is — obviously — a very early look at a general election fight that could go in one of a thousand ways, particularly with the coronavirus outbreak already disrupting the world economy and threatening to spread across the globe.

And of course, a first-look map at a general election matchup between Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016 would almost certainly have shown a strong advantage to the former secretary of state. We know how that turned out.

The Point: What the electoral map would look like for Democrats isn’t just a theoretical conversation. Sanders’ rivals for the party’s nomination have repeatedly suggested — as recently as Tuesday’s debate — that nominating the Vermont democratic socialist would be a major risk for the party to take. This map will provide fodder for that argument.

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