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Why Bruce Springsteen thinks Donald Trump is going to win in 2020

Bruce Springsteen isn't a big fan of President Donald Trump."He's deeply damaged at his core," the ...

Posted: Dec 4, 2018 5:14 PM
Updated: Dec 4, 2018 5:14 PM

Bruce Springsteen isn't a big fan of President Donald Trump.

"He's deeply damaged at his core," the New Jersey-born rocker recently told Esquire magazine. "Anyone in that position who doesn't deeply feel those ties that bind is a dangerous man, and it's very pitiful."

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That's no big surprise. Springsteen is an outspoken liberal; he campaigned for John Kerry in 2004 and performed at Barack Obama's second inauguration.

What IS a big surprise is what Springsteen told the Sunday Times in an interview in advance of the release later this month of his long-running Broadway show on Netflix.

"I don't see anyone out there at the moment ... the man who can beat Trump, or the woman who can beat Trump," Springsteen said of the potential 2020 Democratic field. "You need someone who can speak some of the same language [as Trump] ... and the Democrats don't have an obvious, effective presidential candidate."

Which is an interesting analysis -- particularly when you consider that the Democratic field is likely to be the largest in modern American history, with two dozen (or more) candidates expected to run. One would think that, given the expected size of the field, there would be at least one candidate -- and maybe a few -- who Springsteen believes can take on and beat Trump.

And Springsteen's specific doubt about the Democratic field -- "you need someone who can speak some of the same language" as the President -- is a very important one.

Dismiss Springsteen as just another liberal rock star if you will (and he is!), but also remember that Springsteen's roots are in a working-class, blue-collar community -- and that he has spent his entire life writing about and trying to explain the hopes, fears and anxieties of those communities to the country and the world.

Trump spoke to those fears and hopes in a very direct and real way during the 2016 campaign. He won the White House thanks to victories in the industrial Midwest -- Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio -- that was hit the hardest by the rapidly changing 21st-century economy and the crushing blows it dealt to the manufacturing sector.

"Donald J. Trump won the presidency by riding an enormous wave of support among white working-class voters," concluded The New York Times' Nate Cohen the day after the 2016 election. Trump won white, non-college educated males 71%-23% over Hillary Clinton and white, non-college educated women 61% to 34%, according to exit polling. Those white, non-college educated voters comprised one-third of the overall electorate. ("Non-college educated," of course, doesn't equal "blue-collar," but history has shown there are strong similarities among those groups and their voting preferences.)

There is zero question -- particularly when you consider the crushing blow Democrats delivered to Republicans in the suburbs in the 2018 midterms -- that Trump's path to a second term relies heavily on these same blue collar whites who got him elected President in the first place.

And like it or not, Trump does, as Springsteen notes, understand how to not only talk to this group but convince them that he is their champion, that he is a voice for the previously voiceless. This, from Trump's inauguration speech, captures that sentiment nicely:

"January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

"The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

"Everyone is listening to you now.

"You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before."

Trump makes this appeal by casting himself as a man of the people -- fighting against elite snobbery and political correctness. (Yes, I am well aware of the irony of a man born into wealth and raised in New York City emerging as the voice of the working class.)

"Why are they elite?" Trump asked a crowd at a rally in Minnesota over the summer. "I have a much better apartment than they do. I'm smarter than they are. I became president and they didn't. And I'm representing the best people on earth, the deplorables."

Looking through that lens -- as Springsteen is doing -- you can understand the rocker's concerns. Kamala Harris, the current frontrunner in the 2020 rankings I do with Harry Enten, is a senator from California. Elizabeth Warren is an unapologetic liberal from Massachusetts. Bernie Sanders is a democratic socialist from Vermont.

None of that group has an obvious appeal to blue-collar white workers that would trump Trump's -- at least at first glance.

That said, I do think there are candidates in the field -- or potential field -- who would fit more of what Springsteen is looking for. Former Vice President Joe Biden has practically changed his middle name to "Hardscrabble roots in Scranton." And Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown is the sort of gravel-voiced populist that might appeal to Bruce. Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is not nearly as well known as Biden and Brown but has a similar pitch -- that Democrats need to start reaching Midwesterner voters, especially white working class ones, again.

The question before Democrats, to my mind, is not whether they have a candidate -- or candidates -- who can fight Trump for white blue-collar voters in the Midwest by speaking some of the "same language" as Trump, to borrow Springsteen's phrasing. The question is whether the party's base, which is increasingly coastal, non-white and liberal, wants to even consider a candidate like that as the party's standard-bearer against Trump.

If 2018 is any indication, they don't. No matter what Springsteen thinks.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 253932

Reported Deaths: 5524
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17120175
Hinds16207322
Harrison13353193
Rankin10689211
Jackson10303183
Lee8796141
Madison8232162
Jones6288110
Forrest5949119
Lauderdale5847180
Lowndes5355116
Lafayette494292
Lamar484165
Washington4777123
Bolivar3966108
Oktibbeha392480
Panola368378
Pontotoc362853
Monroe3533105
Warren348498
Union343060
Marshall341665
Neshoba3370152
Pearl River327899
Leflore3002105
Lincoln297085
Sunflower282669
Tate270862
Hancock266559
Alcorn263253
Itawamba262459
Pike262077
Scott246245
Prentiss245052
Yazoo244355
Copiah240849
Tippah240450
Simpson234867
Leake230564
Coahoma230054
Grenada217770
Covington211371
Marion210672
Adams204670
Winston200164
Wayne199630
George199038
Attala193559
Newton191342
Tishomingo184459
Chickasaw183644
Jasper169735
Holmes168567
Clay159033
Stone142320
Tallahatchie140134
Clarke138660
Calhoun135721
Smith120123
Yalobusha116534
Walthall111836
Noxubee110322
Greene109729
Montgomery109434
Carroll104221
Lawrence102417
Perry101631
Amite97725
Webster92224
Tunica86321
Claiborne86125
Jefferson Davis84125
Humphreys82924
Benton81523
Kemper77120
Quitman6888
Franklin66415
Choctaw60313
Wilkinson58325
Jefferson53819
Sharkey42717
Issaquena1596
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 422598

Reported Deaths: 6120
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62039921
Mobile30225548
Madison27052186
Tuscaloosa20728267
Montgomery18978305
Shelby18504114
Baldwin16251182
Lee12465101
Morgan12233113
Etowah11735168
Calhoun11122200
Marshall10191107
Houston8598148
Cullman8023105
Limestone800274
Elmore7836101
DeKalb768397
Lauderdale754683
St. Clair7535120
Talladega6166108
Walker5897174
Jackson580341
Colbert532073
Blount530483
Autauga518455
Coffee441056
Dale396181
Franklin366248
Chilton336165
Russell330310
Covington327268
Escambia316842
Dallas303196
Chambers282769
Clarke281433
Tallapoosa2616107
Pike248729
Marion245650
Lawrence243647
Winston226635
Bibb215147
Geneva201435
Marengo199029
Pickens196531
Hale175842
Barbour172936
Butler169658
Fayette168226
Cherokee160330
Henry153621
Monroe145217
Randolph139835
Washington137626
Clay126145
Crenshaw118744
Lamar118019
Cleburne117423
Macon114735
Lowndes110335
Wilcox103121
Bullock99028
Perry97419
Conecuh94420
Sumter89026
Greene76023
Coosa60515
Choctaw51224
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