A prominent Democratic PAC, Priorities USA, says it's removing Ohio — a key swing state — from its list of priorities in 2020, signaling that they do not believe Democrats can return the swing state to the "blue" column.
Cleveland.com revealed Wednesday that Priorities, which raised and spent a whopping $190 million for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and around $75 million for Barack Obama in 2012, is scaling back operations in the state, after determining that Ohio "targetability" eroded in the 2016 election.
Priorities USA now lists Ohio, which was once key to Democratic presidential victories, as a “GOP Watch” state akin to Texas. "That’s below other more traditional swing states like Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, but also historically red states like Arizona and Georgia," local media reports.
They are instead targeting Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Nevada, all of which we on the fence in the 2016 elections. President Donald Trump won Ohio by a comfortable 8-point margin in 2016 taking all but eight counties, and winning the largest GOP victory in the state since 1932 (according, at least, to Wikipedia).
Democrats within the state insist that the state is still competitive, but Cleveland.com contends that the numbers show they have an ever-decreasing market-share, particularly as the party trends leftward.
"Since 2010, Democrats have only won statewide election three times in Ohio. One was Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, when he won by 3-percentage points. The other two were U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown during his 2012 and 2018 re-election campaigns," the outlet reports. "Democrats got trounced in 2018."
“That doesn’t mean we don’t think Ohio is winnable for a Democrat,” Priorities USA's spokesperson told Cleveland.com, trying to mend local fences. “What we think that means is if Ohio is in play, we’ll have already won the easier states and have 270 electoral votes. Our investment strategy is how to get to 270 electoral votes.”
No matter how you slice it, losing Ohio seems to be bad news for Democrats going into the 2020 presidential election. The state epitomizes the most likely swing demographic for Democrats in the next contest: middle-class and working-class white voters who left the party in droves for Donald Trump in 2016 and who make up a vast majority of likely voters across the Rust Belt.
Democrats are contending now with whether to adopt a more traditional approach to 2020 — running someone like former Vice President Joe Biden, who represents the "moderate" wing of the party, and who will likely attract working-class white voters back to the party's ranks — or to move further left to accommodate more vocal, emerging aspects of their base.
If the demographics play out the same way they did in 2016, the move further left makes no sense. In fact, it might serve to further alienate voters in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, where Trump's economic agenda resonates fully.
With Priorities USA, the single largest Democratic super PAC operating in the United States, already admitting that Ohio is probably lost in 2020, the signs are there that Democrats are facing a real problem in the midwest.