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 6:14 PM
Updated: Dec 4, 2018 6:14 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.

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Reported Deaths: 16245
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Marion1343262101
Lake658231151
Allen57160791
Hamilton45963460
St. Joseph43954607
Elkhart35546503
Vanderburgh31975473
Tippecanoe27694256
Johnson24821440
Hendricks23647353
Porter22735362
Madison18538404
Clark18383248
Vigo17274300
Monroe15117197
LaPorte14987249
Delaware14931256
Howard14574286
Kosciusko12166147
Hancock11597175
Bartholomew11447179
Warrick11225188
Floyd10983214
Wayne10840248
Grant9898217
Morgan9361176
Boone8819115
Dubois8210129
Dearborn815492
Henry8107150
Noble7944106
Marshall7786134
Cass7462119
Lawrence7379168
Shelby7115114
Jackson691788
Gibson6480113
Harrison641591
Huntington630299
Knox6269105
DeKalb623796
Montgomery6184109
Miami586595
Putnam573477
Clinton567171
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Steuben550473
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Fayette402186
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Starke310868
Owen310169
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Orange290562
Jay278445
Perry264452
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Switzerland133911
Warren120116
Union106615
Ohio84012
Unassigned0532

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1494160

Reported Deaths: 23327
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1623021662
Cuyahoga1442512412
Hamilton1042291409
Montgomery729771240
Summit607921094
Lucas55462904
Butler50923707
Stark457361053
Lorain34972568
Warren32373369
Mahoning30168672
Clermont27861321
Lake26543434
Delaware23920162
Licking23442283
Trumbull22420552
Fairfield22117241
Greene22014311
Medina21673305
Clark19567349
Richland18260280
Portage17616247
Wood17174220
Allen15672269
Miami15305296
Muskingum14481174
Columbiana13656263
Wayne13538263
Tuscarawas12415298
Marion11760175
Scioto11336154
Pickaway11264141
Erie10613180
Ross10425196
Lawrence9638137
Hancock9504149
Ashtabula9410197
Belmont9086197
Geauga8795157
Jefferson8455191
Huron8193139
Union809156
Washington8009137
Sandusky7677145
Athens767072
Knox7571138
Darke7530151
Seneca7184144
Ashland6776125
Auglaize664896
Shelby6392111
Brown627382
Crawford6159130
Mercer606793
Defiance6059102
Fulton590596
Highland587199
Madison585776
Clinton575190
Logan569092
Guernsey568467
Preble5640121
Putnam5238108
Williams516784
Perry511761
Champaign502971
Jackson495470
Ottawa477886
Coshocton468382
Morrow449056
Pike429962
Fayette420760
Adams409987
Gallia409865
Hardin409276
Van Wert362378
Henry357171
Holmes3549122
Hocking350378
Wyandot316561
Carroll295459
Paulding275145
Meigs257849
Monroe212153
Noble195646
Morgan190132
Harrison177842
Vinton161724
Unassigned05
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