This Michigan county was an early warning for Hillary Clinton. Dems now look to it for clues in 2020
The fate of President Trump’s signature campaign rallies, the White House hopes a Supreme Court decision could jumpstart immigration talks, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders fight for the Latino vote, and Senate Democrats have a new reason to feel hopeful. That and more in this week’s Inside Politics forecast.
A Michigan county to test blue-collar appeal, the fate of President Donald Trump‘s signature campaign rallies, a Supreme Court decision that could jumpstart immigration talks and a Joe Biden–Bernie Sanders fight for the Latino vote.
Our panel of top political reporters have those stories and more on their radar in this week’s “Inside Politics” forecast.
1. Campaigns & coronavirus
The President has been holding 2020 campaign rallies nearly every week this year — until now.
“For the first time in several months, there are no Trump political rallies scheduled,” Washington Post White House reporter Toluse Olorunnipa said. “It comes at the same time that his administration is telling older Americans not to join large crowds because of the coronavirus. We’re not sure if there’s a connection there.”
Olorunnipa said there’s a lot at stake for Trump’s reelection bid.
“Political rallies are a key part of President Trump’s campaign strategy,” he said. “They use it for data, they use it to stroke the President’s ego and let him know he has support out in the country. If he has to retool those rallies, it will make a major difference in terms of how he runs his campaign.”
2. Will SCOTUS decision jumpstart immigration talks?
The Supreme Court could decide in a matter of week the fate of the “Dreamers” — undocumented immigrants brought to the US by their parents when they were very young. The White House is hoping a ruling will jumpstart talks to overhaul the entire immigration system, New York Times congressional editor Julie Hirschfeld Davis said.
The justices must decide whether to uphold an Obama-era executive order that allow Dreamers to avoid deportation if they meet certain conditions.
“The court could rule this spring or by early summer,” Davis said. “A lot of people think that program is going to get struck down, and the Trump administration doesn’t want to be without an answer.”
Davis said the White House is talking to Senate Republicans about a bill that lets Dreamers stay in exchange for some of the President’s immigration priorities.
“This is something that would shift our policy to more of a merit-based system, cut down on the family-based system which is sort of the core of our system now,” Davis said.
3. Democrats & the Latino vote
Sanders has found strong support for his candidacy among Latino voters — it’s a big reason why he won the Nevada caucuses and looks likely to prevail in the California primary. The big question for his campaign is whether he can replicate that success in two big upcoming contests.
“We all know he dominated with Latinos in Nevada, in California, and in Texas, but Florida and Arizona could be an entirely different picture,” said Politico national political correspondent Laura Barrón-López.
Both states vote on March 17 — with 67 delegates at stake in Arizona and 219 in Florida, making it the second-largest prize still on the board.
“They have different ethnic makeups in the Latino population, which could skew more toward Biden,” Barrón-López said. “And we already know that Biden has a six-figure ad buy targeting Latinos, because his campaign knows they have ground to make up.”
4. Senate Democrats feeling bullish
Democrats are feeling more confident than ever about their chances of capturing control of the Senate this election year. The reason? The state of Montana.
“Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, after months of saying he would not run for the Senate against [incumbent Republican] Steve Daines, is poised to reverse course and announce his candidacy,” said New York Times national political correspondent Jonathan Martin.
Democrats need to win four seats to win the majority — or just three seats if they also win the presidency. They’re already hoping to knock off incumbents in Colorado, Arizona, Maine and North Carolina. A competitive race in Montana gives them another path to get there.
“The question is, can Bullock win in a state President Trump will probably carry easily?” Martin asked. “It’s a great test of the politics of our time — will voters split their ticket in that kind of a race.”
5. Democrats’ blue-collar bellwether
And from CNN Chief National Correspondent John King:
A lot has changed since my first presidential election 30-plus years ago, but Tuesday features one reliable constant: Macomb County, Michigan, is a great testing ground of blue-collar sentiment.
Macomb was exhibit A in the study of Reagan Democrats — blue-collar workers, often union members, who helped Ronald Reagan to two Michigan and presidential wins.
The town of Warren, Michigan — in Macomb County — is where Michael Dukakis took that ill-fated tank ride in 1988. And when Trump barely won Michigan by more than 10,000 votes in 2016, Macomb County flipping from blue to red made the difference.
So watch on Tuesday: Hillary Clinton just narrowly beat Sanders in Macomb four years ago; it was an early warning of her struggles with blue-collar men. How Macomb votes in Tuesday’s primary will be studied for clues about which 2020 Democrat has more blue-collar appeal — and for clues of whether Trump’s 2016 map has noteworthy cracks.