What ‘Send Her Back’ Tells Us About Trump’s 2020 Campaign

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That feeling is particularly mobilizing among non-college educated white voters — you know, the kind who helped Mr. Trump win Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania last time around. So, this is a campaign strategy, crafted by a politician with a good sense for the desires of his base.

2. It’s not about the economy, stupid.

Mr. Trump has the kind of economy that’s the stuff of re-election dreams. The unemployment rate is 3.7 percent, near its lowest level since 1969. The economy has grown for a record 121 consecutive months. And the stock market is reaching record highs.

But don’t expect to hear much about it. As much as Republican leaders would like this race to be run over the economy, as my colleagues Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns wrote last month, Mr. Trump’s political instincts will drive the race into the more inflammatory cultural issues.

That dynamic helps explain some of what we’re seeing in the polls: Voters give Mr. Trump credit for the economy, but don’t see him as presidential. In 2018, Democrats won control of the House on the backs of college-educated suburban voters turned off by Mr. Trump’s behavior. Whether his style continues to alienate those suburban swing voters, who would otherwise see a vote for Mr. Trump as support for economic prosperity, is a central question of the race.

3. Buckle your seatbelts; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Mr. Trump and Republicans have decided that the only way to counter an unpresidential president is to make your opponents seem even more unfit for office. His comments this week are the culmination of a monthslong Republican effort to make “the squad” of freshman congresswomen the face of the Democratic Party, as a way to paint Democrats as radical socialists who hate America. It’s a strategy that the G.O.P. is embracing up and down the ticket.

“A vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream — frankly, the destruction of our country,” Mr. Trump said.

Moderate Democrats worry that they’re playing into Mr. Trump’s hands by embracing policies like “Medicare for all” and free college. The liberal wing argues that those policies are broadly popular and that what the party needs is a more aggressive pushback on Mr. Trump, like starting impeachment proceedings — a step they tried, unsuccessfully, to take last night

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