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Amy Klobuchar’s Effort to Flank Top-Tier 2020 Democrats Has One Big Risk

AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is going after a slice of voters her colleagues are ignoring this cycle: Obama-Trump voters. Scores of counties that voted for Obama flipped for Trump in 2016. In all, one-third of 700 counties that voted twice for Obama decided to back Trump four years ago. The Washington Post crunched the numbers after the president; upset win over Hillary Clinton. They also noted that Trump won 194 of the 207 counties that voted for Obama in either 2008 or 2012. That’s quite the realignment. Klobuchar is trying to mold herself as the Democratic equivalent to Trump. Elizabeth Warren is trying to do the same. While she may not seem like someone who would make a splash in this large 2020 field, Klobuchar hasn’t done too badly. She’s not raising tons of money, but she’s polling well enough to get on stage with the so-called elite of the Democratic candidate crop. And she’s performed decently on stage, with quiet though stinging swipes at her 2020 rivals. She’s scrappy. Yet, that’s not enough. As Politico noted, Sanders, Warren, and Biden have operations that dwarf hers in the ground game, so where does go to find the edge? In New Hampshire, it’s this slice of voters. The former Democrats who left the party for Trump. Yet, there is a problem with this mindset (via Politico):


Sen. Amy Klobuchar recognizes that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are going to clean up here. But she sees a path to success by finding voters to whom they have little appeal — like those who are so independent-minded they voted for both Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

It shows in every piece of her strategy, from the towns she visits to her stump speech. And in a state where the biggest voting bloc, 43 percent, is independents, it’s a game plan her campaign thinks will create an Election Day surprise.


Klobuchar’s state director said they’re focused on places other candidates have avoided, especially the towns that went to Obama in 2008 and 2012, but then voted for Trump in 2016.

“Those are really a lot of communities that tend to be bellwethers or communities that have an impact on New Hampshire outcomes,” said Scott Merrick. “Whether they're Democrats and they'll vote for more moderate candidates or they're truly undeclared voters who mix it up.”

Klobuchar spent hours in one of those cities, Claremont, on Tuesday delivering her stump speech and taking questions in a standing-room-only hall filled with over 300 people.


University of New Hampshire pollster Andy Smith said “Obama-Trump” voters only represent around three percent of the electorate and questioned whether there are enough of them who vote in the Democratic primary to make a difference.

“A small percentage of the New Hampshire electorate voted for Obama in 2012 and for Trump in 2016, but they will not have much impact in the primary,” he said.


There are not enough Obama-Trump voters to make a dent in the primary results. Well, that’s a problem. The publication added this is why she’s also hitting up GOP strongholds in the Granite State, where turnout has been pretty solid. It’s all about treading water and making sure there’s enough oxygen to survive onto the next phase. She’s done well in the debates, which Politico noted increased her visibility and fundraising goals, but she needs to keep that level of support up to stay on the stage and make inroads somewhere to ensure she goes up to totem pole in this primary. She’s making strategic decisions with the resources she has, but this a general election ploy that could blow up in her face. After all, two-thirds of Obama-Trump voters who backed Democrats in the 2018 midterms are now dead-set on supporting Trump in 2020. 


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