D.C. political analyst offers prediction for 2020 presidential election during final Seminars at Steamboat
Amy Walter closes out Seminars at Steamboat series of policy talks
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — One of America’s most respected political analysts told a Steamboat Springs audience that President Trump could lose the popular vote by 5 million while winning the election in 2020. She’s also worried about possible physical attacks on the media and warned the Seminars at Steamboat crowd that Chinese and Russians are already infiltrating social media to manipulate Americans.
“The real worry is the disinformation campaigns,” said Amy Walter, national editor for the Cook Political Report.
As a political panelist for NBC, CBS, PBS and Fox political shows and a former political director at ABC, Walter’s career has positioned her alongside campaign insiders from all political spectrums. The Cook Political Report is also the go-to non-partisan newsletter for D.C. politicos.
Walter was the last speaker in the Seminars at Steamboat summer series. She presented her talk, “State of Play — The 2020 Election,” on Monday at the Strings Music Pavilion.
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An audience member asked Walter if there was a proxy war being fought by the Chinese and Russians in an effort to manipulate the 2020 presidential election.
Walter said recent experts on her political radio show, Politics with Amy Walter, made it clear that Americans don’t really have to worry about foreigners actually changing votes or voting illegally, but instead, these entities are using misinformation on social media to stir up chaos in American society.
“They know enough about American culture and dividing lines and what inflames both sides,” said Walter. “Disinformation works so brilliantly … they find things that are just believable enough … where we say ‘hmm, that can be true.’”
She said the “bad actors” are going after America’s justice and political systems.
“Their goal is for Americans to say ‘this entire system is corrupt. I don’t trust anybody or anything and have no faith in the American system,’” Walter said.
She cited a powerful story from Germany where Russian influencers pushed a fake story about immigrants attacking women. She said the false story eventually caused protests across the country.
Walter was also asked about how Trump’s aggressive partisanship is changing the way she covers news, if at all.
“We don’t care who wins or loses, we just don’t want to be wrong,” Walter said about her job at the Cook Political Report.
However, she talked about how “the constant drumbeat” of anger and outrage can be mentally exhausting and that the Washington, D.C. area “feels like it’s on edge.”
“We’ve been lucky, up to this point, that no attacks have occurred,” on the media, Walter said. “I’m much more nervous now, going into the 2020 election.”
Walter also predicted the Democratic nomination will eventually come down to four candidates: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris with Corey Booker and Pete Buttigieg getting more attention than the rest of the pack.
She also predicted President Trump will use the same playbook he did in 2016, concentrating on Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, which have an abundance of Trump supporters. She said those states tipped the balance in the electoral college even though Trump lost the popular vote nationwide.
Walter said the huge increase in educated whites and non-whites are growing in states where it won’t affect the electoral college outcome. And while the Democrats swept the Senate and Congressional races in 2018 in those same three Trump states, Walter said many Trump supporters stayed home during the mid-term 2018 elections. She expects them to come out again for the presidential election.
She said her Cook colleague, David Wasserman, has predicted that Trump could lose the popular vote by 5 million votes in 2020 but still win the electoral college. She agrees but said Trump has absolutely “no room for error” in this scenario.
Walter said the hope for Democrats is the polls that show Trump is losing the support of independent voters. She said Trump’s partisanship and concentration on his base is also causing unusual changes in polling data.
She said President Trump’s approval ratings are lower than the economic approval ratings, a rare thing to see in a president.
She cited a poll going into the 2016 election where a majority of Democrats said the economy was doing great while the Republicans said it was awful. Three months later, the opinions basically reversed.
“The only thing that changed was the person in the White House,” Walter said.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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