Trump has begun making a serious play for not only the swing states of the recent past (Florida, Ohio), but also those that would be beyond all hope for the Republicans of the recent past (Michigan, California).
He's said that he plans to put 15 blue states into play, an announcement that is mostly designed to set the media abuzz with speculation about which 15 they are, how likely each one is to turn red for Trump, and so on. This allows him to stay in the news cycle for several more weeks.
More importantly, the announcement will have the same effect on Hillary's campaign, who will have to go into panic defense mode as they try to figure out which 15 they are, how to prevent him in each state, how much to spend doing so, etc.
So while the media gets to indulge its addiction for speculation, Team Hillary will suffer disorientation as their tried-and-true playbooks must all be thrown out the window.
Or will they? So far they appear to be stuck in the Clinton-Bush-Obama climate, where the main faultlines are between liberals and conservatives in the Culture Wars. This earlier post detailed how tone-deaf and wide-of-the-mark Hillary's attacks have been on both Bernie and Trump.
For example, polling data shows that Hillary's woman card angle has somewhat widened her lead among women, but has shrunken it by an even larger magnitude among men. And in 2016, the electorate is going to be a lot more male than it has been in recent history, given Trump's galvanizing of white working-class men, who are usually more likely to stay home on election day.
Hillary has seriously misread this change in the electorate -- her team should be able to forecast how much more male the voters will be this time, and done their best to pick off men from Trump. Instead they've chosen the exact opposite -- alienating the group that will be more important in this election.
Ditto for her alienating white voters, when the electorate will be much more white than in recent elections, given Trump's galvanizing of whites.
And ditto her alienating the working class by promoting the globalist trade deals like TPP (and NAFTA during her husband's administration), during an election that will have a more working-class electorate, given Trump's galvanizing them around tariffs, bringing back manufacturing jobs, disentangling America from the globalist bloodsuckers, and so on and so forth.
So, on each of the three major demographic changes in the electorate this year -- sex, race, and class -- she has read the changes completely backwards, and has doubled-down on the alienating strategies. She and everyone on her team are convinced that the voters who turn out during a Trump election are going to be more non-white, more female, and more elite than usual. Random error is one thing, but to assess the situation totally backwards, is a fatal mistake -- especially once those biases are put into action.
What does this mean for her defense of the "blue wall" of "guaranteed" Democrat states?
Quite simply, it means that she will take the wrong steps in every direction, and leave herself vulnerable to everything Trump says and does.
She thinks that California's voters will be more female, more non-white, and more elite -- and she will be blindsided when a YUGE bloc of white working-class men turn out, who usually would be sitting it out. California has had one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the nation (even among those who are eligible), and it is disproportionately white working-class men -- those who see little point in leaving the house to pull the lever for one elite-slurping globalist sell-out or another. They represent a massive reservoir of untapped voters who will be eager to vote for Trump.
The same is true for Oregon (where Trump and Hillary are already tied in a recent poll), and to a lesser extent Washington.
The whole complacency about the "blue wall" has insulated Democrats from having their finger on the pulse of the voters there, including which large untapped reservoirs there may be. Illegal immigrants don't get to vote in our country's elections, so that large pool of non-voters is out -- yet is the group that Hillary would tailor her message to if she had to defend California. "Let's see, Trump wants to build a wall and deport immigrants, so I'll pander to the illegal immigrants! The ads will even be written and spoken in Spanish!" Great strategy to turn out zero additional voters on your behalf.
In fairness, the typical Republican candidates -- the ones running on stale Conservatism Inc. values from the 1970s and '80s -- would be just as out-of-touch with Californian voters. What's the point in getting a feel for a population that you would never win over?
Trump, however, is the nemesis and conqueror of both the Republican and Democratic wings of the Establishment, who both push for an elite-centered globalist agenda, while offering different flavors of Culture War red meat to distract the voters with. The main barrier to Republicans campaigning in the West Coast is the cultural liberalism of the residents, who will never approve a candidate running on a platform of Conservatism (of any sub-genre).
But since Trump is running on a separate and unrelated platform of America-first (vs. globalism) and populism (vs. elitism), while sidelining the Culture War topics, he and his army have passed right through the barrier. They may not be liberals, but they're not official conservatives either, and they have tossed aside their Culture War weapons before approaching the metal detector at the gates.
Once inside, they will brutalize Team Hillary on the decline of manufacturing in California ("Apple will make their product here in the United States"), the depressed incomes of American IT workers due to both off-shoring to India and China, as well as the tsunami of foreigners who come to Silicon Valley on visas, and so many other economic issues that the Democrats never imagined would be brought up.
Picture it: the rank-and-file IT workers in Silicon Valley giving Trump a serious hearing, as he dismisses Culture War topics and focuses like a laser on how low their incomes are because of their immigration-hungry oligarch bosses looking to cut labor costs, no matter how. And how high the cost of living is because of immigration sending the demand for housing through the roof. It would be so much more affordable without all those immigrants -- which in turn drives up the demand for nice housing that lies safely away from immigrant neighborhoods.
True, Crooked Hillary has a lock on the latter-day plantation owners of Silicon Valley -- but they only get one vote per person. Opposed by their resentful rank-and-file workers, and with no Democrat votes possible from their ineligible immigrant workers, they will be swept aside in the general election.
This is just one example of how much more in-touch the Trump campaign is with the pressing issues facing real-life Californians, and not some liberal caricature from 20 years ago. They may still be mostly liberal, but that's not the faultline in this election, so lots of luck reminding them that Trump is neutral in the Culture War, while you want to drive them further into high-tech indentured servitude. Something tells me they'll vote for the candidate who will make their jobs and standard of living better, while allowing their state to determine its own culture and lifestyles.
In summary, it is not just a matter of Hillary having to "fight harder" to hang on to the West Coast. That suggests that it's the same terrain, same opponents, same weaponry, and same rules of engagement, and only having to dial up the intensity level on what has "always" worked (reminder: California voted almost exclusively Republican from 1860 until 1992). In their minds, if the Clintons had to play the woman card at level 5 to win California in the '90s, play it to level 10 to hold onto the state in 2016.
By taking the "blue wall" for granted for so many election cycles, the Democratic Establishment is no longer in touch with what voters truly want. Just throw them the liberal Culture War crumbs, and they'll happily eat that over what is, to their taste buds, poisonous conservatism. This time around, the war for the West Coast will be fought on fundamentally unfamiliar terrain, with an unfamiliar opponent wielding unfamiliar weapons, and with unfamiliar rules of engagement.
A campaign that faces such daunting unpredictabilities with such a lackadaisical attitude is going to come out of the battle with more than just a bloody nose. Bones will be broken, limbs severed -- whether or not Team Trump ultimately wins California, Crooked Hillary is going to have to exhaust massive resources in defending supposedly safe states. And there is no way she can defend them all, not with her level of insulated cluelessness and Trump's instinctive savvy and unforgiving aggression.
Perhaps worst of all for the other side is that Hillary is not just any old Culture War Democrat, any of whom would be unable to stop Trump, but some of whom might be humble enough to try adapting to the demand for America-first populism. This particular Democrat is such a grandiose narcissist that she will never admit to needing to adapt her entire campaign to the utterly alien arena she is about to enter. She views the entire process as a great big boring formality before her eventual anointment and coronation. Even worse that you can't teach an old dog new tricks (ARF ARF ARF).
She is going to stride smugly into the ring with Trumpzilla and get pounded into submission, never to walk again in the political world. It's gonna be epic, and we've all got ringside seats.