Senior Republicans are resigned to President Trump losing the popular vote in 2020, conceding the limits of the flamboyant incumbent’s political appeal and revealing just how central the Electoral College has become to the party’s White House prospects.
Some Republicans say the problem is Trump’s populist brand of partisan grievance. It’s an attitude tailor-made for the Electoral College in the current era of regionally Balkanized politics, but anathema to attracting a broad, national coalition that can win the most votes, as past presidents did when seeking re-election amid a booming economy. Others argue that neither Trump, nor possibly any Republican, could win the popular vote when most big states are overwhelmingly liberal.
“California, Illinois, and New York, make it very, very difficult for anybody on our side to ever again to win the popular vote,” said David Carney, a Republican strategist in New Hampshire. Asked if he expects Trump to defy the odds next year, Carney said flatly, “No,” but added, “the president shouldn’t worry about it. Two hundred seventy — that’s what people remember.”