The 2020 election opened several new electoral pathways for Democrats and expanded on Republican wins in 2016 and 2018. It also reinforced existing trends for formerly perennial swing states. How should the parties prioritize those states in the next few cycles and what states merit less attention than they’ve received in recent history?

[This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity]

Lars Emerson (State & Science Editor): With me today to discuss is Michael Lovito, our Editor-in-Chief.

Michael (Editor-in-Chief): Hello.

Lars:  And friend of the site and first-time contributor Chris Choban.

Chris Choban (Contributor): Ready for the 538 fan fiction.

Michael: (that’s the other channel)

Lars: And I’m your State & Science editor! So, how we’re going to do this is we’ll take turns starting with Mike, then on to Chris, then myself. We’re each going to give a state that we believe the parties should stop focusing on so much and present a case, and then we’ll three discuss the choice.

Lars: Per Chris’ recommendation, we’ll do a snake draft of the states. Which, for those who don’t know means Michael will go first and then Chris, and then I will. Then I’ll go again, then Chris, and so on.

So Michael, what is the number one state that has received focus in the last few cycles that a party should concede to the other in order to focus on new pathways to victory?

Michael: I mean I feel like this is the top of everyone’s list, but Colorado. Biden romped there in 2020, and incumbent Republican Senator Cory Gardner really didn’t put up much of a fight against John Hickenlooper, who, despite being very popular, didn’t run the strongest of campaigns. Plus, their state party is an absolute mess right now.

Lars: Yup that was my number one pick too haha.

Chris: I see where y’all are coming from but did they actually spend that much money there?

Lars: They did not. And neither campaign made any campaign stops there in 2020 — which is weird considering they had a (weak) Republican senatorial incumbent to defend.

Michael: That’s true. The GOP there is in a very bad position where the state has become a microcosm for what’s happened to the country as a whole. The Dem-leaning suburbs and cities have grown, and while the rural areas remain strongly Republican, they’re moving in such a Trump-like direction that they don’t have a prayer in Denver, Boulder, etc.

Lars: In 2016, Trump actually put a lot more effort into it than Clinton, his campaign made 16 stops there compared to the Clinton’s 3. And he spent like $1.2 million more there.

Michael: Yeah, that’s probably when the GOP gave up on the state.

Lars: It seems like both parties have basically dropped interest in Colorado going into 2020, and the national Democrats pulled out of the Senate race there too in 2020. Since Hickenlooper was primed for a win.

Colorado’s margin for Biden was not dissimilar from Illinois or New Jersey’s. Which is fascinating. It’s a state that voted for Bush twice! It used to be the “Hate State.”

Not to harp too much, but like… talk about a trend. Now Chris can do his, just had to get that all out, having lived there for over a decade and what not.

Michael: Well, there’s another state on my list that follows a similar trend, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it…

If Colorado isn’t big a bold enough for you Chris, who’s your first pick?

Chris: 😂 oh I’ll save my hot takes for later since I suspect you all are going to let them sizzle. I’ll start with one, the Dems need to stop spending in Iowa. They put down $12 mil in 2020 and got womped. It’s not even like Ohio where the GOP matched them, plus Iowa doesn’t have those urban centers that might be gettable.

Lars: And unlike Ohio, Iowa has no Democratic senator.

Michael: That was on my list too. They had a winnable gubernatorial race in 2018 that they biffed, and the 2020 Senate election should’ve been much closer (Trump’s tariffs wreaked havoc on the state economy, and Joni Ernst couldn’t answer basic crop pricing questions).

Lars: Texas voted more for Hillary than Iowa did!

Michael: I WILL POINT OUT THOUGH….that after the 2018 elections, three of Iowa’s four Congressional districts was held by a Democrat.

(and then, of course, 2/3 of them lost re-election)

Lars: That’s a good point, and a good counter-point. It’s just a very white state. And that does not seem to be the winning move for Democrats.

Chris: Mike, I like your point on the governor’s race though. I think I underweighted that, especially [since governor’s races are] one of the few areas where partisanship is only big instead of massive.

Plus, Lars, the whites like Dems so long as they’ve got fancy pieces of paper.

Lars: It was a lot more fought over in 2016 than 2020, Biden only showed up in Iowa in the last week of the race.

And exactly Chris, Iowa is under the national average (36th place) in terms of attainment of bachelors degrees.

Michael: That gubernatorial race was close, but people forget that most election forecasters had it as a tossup. Sabato even had it as a Lean D!

Lars: Iowa is kind of more interesting than Colorado in that it feels almost less competitive now despite the fact that Barack Obama won it twice… and Al Gore actually won it in 2000.

Michael and I also ragged a lot on Iowa in our last politics chat… it’s just, time to move on from that state. In more ways than one.

Chris: Glad to be in the club 😂

Lars: (I’ll regret those words when I seek my party’s nomination for president in 50 years and have to campaign in the dead of winter in freaking Iowa)

Chris: Ah you’ll just mutter something about ethanol and that will distract them.

Michael: I cannot wait to see a Lars butter sculpture at the Iowa State Fair.

Chris: Ok Lars, what’s the first punch in your rope-a-dope?

Lars: Okay so Colorado was definitely my first choice but my second choice, and for almost identical reasons, is Virginia. It is one of the most educated states in the country. Colorado is ranked #3 if you include DC — which I do, since it does get three electoral votes (but is definitely not a swing state) — and Virginia is #7. It has broken for Democrats dramatically over the last few cycles, which is shocking given up until 2008 it hadn’t voted for a Democrat for president since 1964, but has spit out universally Democratic governors, Senators, and voted for their candidate for president ever since.

Now, similar to Colorado, the campaigns also spent no money there in 2020 after having erroneously focused there in 2016.

And didn’t make any visits in 2020, save for one Trump visit that was basically just a North Carolina visit anyway.  Whereas Hillary Clinton literally chose a running mate who was a former governor and current Senator from the state, Tim Kaine!

So it seems the parties have gotten the message… but I think this is a SAFE Democratic state.

Michael: Yeah that was the state I was alluding to earlier. It’s wild that the former capital of the Confederacy has become such a solid Democratic state. Mark Warner, who barely won re-election to his Senate seat in 2014, won handily in 2020.

Lars: Seriously! Thanks DC suburbs!

Chris: *tips hat* you’re welcome. Yeah I think they’ve been seeing the writing on the wall for VA for a while now.

Lars: Oh yes, worth noting… we all lived in DC and Chris currently lives in Virginia!

Michael: It should be noted, though, that the Democrats’ control of either house fo the state legislature is still perilous, and some of the Northern Virginia districts that flipped in 2018 were much closer in 2020. That said, the state GOP, like Colorado, is not exactly in a good place.

Lars: In 2016, Trump’s campaign made eighteen visits to Virginia.

The parallels between VA and CO are so fascinating to me, because they’re so similar, and it points very strongly to the prevailing trend if the Obama and then especially in the Trump years: those with higher levels of education vote increasingly Democratic.

And between all three of our top tier picks, we’ve each hit on that. CO and VA in one way, but IA in the other.

Chris: Yeah and that perilous hold over the legislature means they get to redistrict which I think would have been Republicans only hope to hold on.

Lars: That’s a good point, Chris. And of all the three states, they each have governing trifectas (one party controls the entire legislature and the governor’s mansion). So, maybe they’re less close than we think… or we’ve all been gerrymandered into oblivion (probably).

Chris:  🐍 (there isn’t a salamander emoji)

Michael: or an Elbridge Gerry one…

Lars: lol, deep cut, Mike.

Ok, my turn again… I hate I have to go fourth here but I think I have to go with…

*Audibly groans*

Florida.

Chris: DAMMIT! That was going to be my sizzle pic! Good steal.

Lars: Florida is like, all messed up.

Look. It went for Obama barely in 2012. It went for Trump barely in 2016. It then went for Trump much stronger in 2020.

Bill Nelson, an incumbent senator (and future NASA administrator!) lost reelection in a Democratic wave year there in 2018.

Nothing about it makes sense to me other than that it’s a relatively uneducated and poorly governed state with dubiously enacted election laws. But the 2018 midterm was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me in showcasing Florida is not the swing state it once was.

If an incumbent senator can’t win in the perennial swing state in a Democrats +8 leaning year… Democrats should probably stop spending so.. soo.. sooooo… much money and time there.

Chris: Yeah between the Florida GOP actually being able to talk to Latinos, the Cubans doubling down on the GOP, and the panhandle whites doing the same, I think it’s a bad place for the Dems to be spending 154 million.

Lars: Seriously. We’re talking $258 million in 2020 between both parties, the most money spent in any state!

(and that’s with Biden spending over $50 million more than Trump)

Clinton also outspent Trump there almost 2-1 in 2016, it’s ridiculous how ineffective it was.

Michael: I have mixed feelings about Florida. On the one hand I hear what you all are saying — there’s currently only one statewide elected Democrat in the Sunshine State (Agriculture Commissioner Nikkie Fried, who will likely run for governor in 2022) and 2018 was a bad year for Dems there. But I think its bigness to closeness ratio is still too significant to ignore in presidential years. Trump still “only” won it by 3.36%.

Lars: But “only” 3.36% is so much bigger in Florida than in like Iowa, you know? “Only” 3.36% is a margin of roughly 400,000 votes in Florida. Compared to roughly a 8% margin in Iowa which was just 140,000 votes. It’s just harder to overcome a margin of that many votes in any state.

Chris: Exactly, spending that kinda cash on something you’re only going to get in a blowout is a bit silly. I think the past flip flopish nature of things has skewed peoples’ thinking. That and the fact that they treat Latinos too similar to African Americans in terms of being a true voting block.

I suspect you spend half that Florida cash on North Carolina and you end up getting some electoral votes out of it.

Michael: You’re not entirely wrong. But I see Biden flip Pinellas and Duval counties and it makes me think if the Tampa Bay and Jacksonville areas grow in a certain way the Dems could become competitive again. But I agree, it wouldn’t be at the top of my list in 2024.

Lars: I think the argument against Florida would be “it’s Trump but like if Trump was a state”, in that it’s kind of white trash, uneducated, poorly governed, and has incorrect definitions of what democracy entails.

But… my argument against it going entirely with the Trump flow and yet still being Republican leaning would be the 2018 midterm, and the fact that Marco Rubio doesn’t seem likely to lose reelection in 2022 🤷

Michael: One last thing about Florida: well that’s where things get a little interesting, right? How much do our calculations change if Trump is no longer a factor. My guess is he’ll be a factor for as long as he lives but who knows what our post-Trump political landscape looks like.

Lars: or if Gov. DeSantis runs for president… or vice president.

Chris: Mike, that’s a good point about maybe once Trump is off the ticket [things may] change but I think the GOP seems to be able to find its footing in Florida (and being able to control the voting laws certainly helps).

Lars: Okay Chris… now to your pick!

Chris: Ok now that my sizzle pick is gone I’ll go back to my bread and butter. I think Republicans need to stop spending so much on Minnesota. Sure there’s a lot of fields but there’s too much city and university for them.

Michael: I agree with you Chris about Minnesota. I get why Republicans were bullish in 2020 but it’s beginning to look like Trump’s near win there in 2016 was a bit of a fluke a la Indiana [going for Obama] in 2008. A lot of traditionally Democratic constituencies in that state have flipped Republican, but the Twin Cities still run things there. Even the 2020 Senate race, which had Republican Jason Lewis polling within 1% at one point, wasn’t that close.

Lars: I was surprised by how well Biden performed in Minnesota in 2020. I figured he’d win, but not so easily.

Why is Minnesota different from its other midwestern neighbors in your mind, Chris?

Chris: Well they ain’t called Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party for nothing!

The thing is Minnesota really isn’t that “midwestern” in the Trump sense. Sure there’s a lot of rural area but it’s got a bunch more whites with college degrees. Maybe it will end up like Utah in that it’s Trumps rhetoric that mattered but by that time I think demographics will still be pushing them more blue.

Lars: It’s true, Minnesota is actually also a very highly educated state. The cities feel a lot more powerful in MN than they do in some other Midwestern states too.

Michael: Yeah, there are certainly large rural swaths of Minnesota, but it’s also the headquarters of Target, Best Buy, 3M, and a bunch of others. Lots of white-collar white people, combined with a large Black population in the Twin Cities and a very politically engaged LGBTQ community, as well.

Chris: Minnesota, Wisconsin, and (maybe) Michigan should really be considered their own thing. “The Ladies of the Lakes” where manufacturing happened but the service industry actually took up the slack (Detroit excluded until recently).

Lars: I disagree… we may get into this later, but I think Wisconsin is very different from Michigan and Minnesota.

Why do you think Minnesota went so much more for Biden than for Hillary Clinton? Clinton didn’t even win a majority in the state, she beat Trump by about 1.5%, whereas Obama twice received about the same or larger margins than Biden.

Michael: Well third party candidates got almost 5% of the vote in 2016, so that probably ate into Clinton’s lead. Outside of that I think Biden did better in Minnesota than Clinton for the same reasons he did better in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Lots of people got tired of Trump, and lots of people just don’t like Hillary Clinton. Plus, he’s Scranton Joe! He’s from there! (Not really, but you know what I mean)

Lars: That first point may explain a lot… I didn’t realize this until now but Trump in 2016 actually only won about 2,000 votes more than Mitt Romney four years prior.

Chris: Though it’s important to note 2016 was a continuation of the trend it’s been on since the 70s. My suspicion though is Minnesota might be one of the few places that bucks the trend on the white working class going red since they have a history of being progressive on social as well as fiscal issues.

Lars: That could be — but Wisconsin was the same way. And Kansas, for that matter.

Chris: Yeah very true, maybe this was the real sizzle pick 😂

Michael: Their white working class population has been shrinking, too. But the suburban and non-white populations have been growing, especially in the southeastern part of the state. In Wisconsin, the suburbanites and young voters who might help the Democrats are leaving, and not being replaced.

Lars: This feels like the most controversial so far but Mike may top it, he’s a hot takester — your next pick, Mike?

Michael: I have mixed feelings about this one, but I’ll save my most controversial for last. In sports parlance, the Democrats need to enter a “rebuilding stage” in Ohio. 2020 was a disaster for them there — they lost Mahoning County for the first time since 1972 and Lorain County for the first time since 1984. That’s prototypical Midwestern union town territory. Combine that with the Cincinnati area being a relatively conservative city, there just aren’t a ton of options. Again, maybe Trump just happens to be very well liked in the Buckeye State, but the Dems need to do a lot of soul searching there. The way we talk about the CO and VA GOP being disarray is probably how we should be talking about the Ohio Democrats.

Lars: Yeah, Ohio’s a solid pick. Sherrod Brown is literally the last man standing.

Chris: Good pick, though I must say I’m of more a cut and run mindset. Sure, you’ve got Cleveland and Columbus, but otherwise it’s McMansion suburbs and small towns that are voting redder and redder.

Michael: We should also point out that Chris is from Ohio so definitely knows more than me about this, lol.

Lars: True. Chris, do you feel the big cities, traditionally Democratic territory these days, are salvageable at all for Democrats to offset losses in other parts of the state? And in Ohio, the unions were also formerly solidly Democratic territory… not so much anymore…

Chris: Yeah, this might be the point where I’m too close to the fire. Sure, there’s a lot of city and Democrats seem to have been able to get back the suburbs, but it feels like Ohio’s only going to get redder. The Unions are long gone and Cleveland isn’t big enough to swing the state blue. That, and all of southern Ohio is basically Kentucky which I suspect will continue to do the same.

Michael: I will say that I think there’s some potential for the 2022 Senate race. Republican candidate Josh Mandel has already gotten slapped by Twitter for “hateful conduct,” and Hillbilly Elegy author JD Vance — a political novice with ties to controversial venture capitalist Peter Thiel — may soon enter the race. Both of those guys give off serious Todd Akin/Sharron Angle/Richard Mourdock vibes to me. Ohio may be too far gone for it to matter but I could see them doing something stupid to tank their campaign. That said, I have no idea what Democrat you run in that race (Tim Ryan?)

Also, redistricing will probably be brutal to Dems ahead of the 2022 cycle.

Chris: Try to find another Sherrod Brown? Even then I think he only survived off name recognition and getting a good senate cycle.

Lars: Nan Whaley, mayor of Dayton, is an option too. HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge (from Ohio) touted her and Ryan on Thursday to potentially win the seat, saying not to write it off.

And yeah, Sherrod Brown actually underperformed the expected margin in 2018 too, but it didn’t matter much in such a strong Democratic year during those midterms.

Chris: Yeah, again I’d love to have hope but I think the time as Ohio being a swing state has passed.

Lars: Agreed. And I think Ohio was the last “easy” pick… so for the last set of three, let’s get some hot takes! Kick us off, Mike!

Michael: Ok, this is gonna be controversial…

I know that this state has being improving for Democrats in recent years. I know there are reasons to be bullish for the future. But at some point, you need to win some races. Which is why I think the Dems need to pull back and rethink their approach to… Texas.

Lars: oooh, interesting.

Texas was the 9th closest state in 2020, going for Trump by around 5.5%. Though neither candidate really spent money there, and the Biden campaign did make three stops there while Trump’s made none.

Chris: Ohhh it’s SUCH a big whale though.

Lars: I don’t see how Democrats don’t start being more aggressive in Texas if they concede Florida.

But then again, Michael was the only one not quite sold that Dems should concede FL.

Chris: Dem PACs spent about 7 mil there and the Republicans didn’t spend squat so some part of me fears it may just be a money hole but the huge cities and bluer Latino population makes me think it’s a good a risk for them.

Lars: It’s a famously expensive state to run ads in too.

Chris: Yeah the whole ad market thing is a strange beast, though the whole idea of spending so much on ads is its own money hole.

Michael: Well, you mention the bluer Latino population, but look at all of those Latino counties that went for Trump. The Latino population in Houston is waaayyy different that then one that lives on the Rio Grande.

And I agree that’s it’s been a money hole. I think there’s work to be done in Texas, they just need to focus on the state house and a few Congressional districts first. Then we can talk about Senate and President.

Lars: Well, Mike — the state Texas is most similar to, based on demography, urbanization, religiosity, etc. is Arizona… but I doubt you’d say Arizona is worth giving up on by either side?

Chris: Yeah Texas feels like they need to pull a Georgia and systematically organize the Democratic base in a better way.

Michael: I just think that the white and Latino populations in Arizona are much, much different than Texas. I mean, look at the difference between the last two Republican Senators elected in Arizona (John McCain and Jeff Flake) and Ted Cruz. Plus, if you win Maricopa County, you probably win Arizona. Same can’t be said for Houston or Dallas or San Antonio. There’s also a significant Native American population in Arizona…

Lars: True, and even as I say that, I do note the correlation is only 61/100. It’s not very strong. Texas really does stand alone.

Chris: I feel ya though Mike, everyone is talking about Texas like it’s in the bag but doesn’t understand that Latinos in Texas are the opposite of other immigrant groups. Many immigrants vote red and their kids vote blue but non-college educated Latinos are HARD blue and their kids are purple.

Michael: And a lot of Texas Latinos aren’t even immigrants. Julian Castro, for instance, was not a native Spanish speaker.

Chris: Very true! Hell going back to the “border crossed us” Tejanos… but Texas has had more of the recent immigrants come from Central America rather than the last wave of Mexican folks a few decades ago.

Lars: Well Texas definitely was a good hot take! Chris, your last pick?

Chris: Damn y’all have kinda picked the carcass bare but I’ll shoot from the hip. I think Michigan is a losing proposition for the GOP.

Lars: I think Michigan is a lot like Minnesota. Trump got very close (and did barely win it, unlike in Minnesota where he barely lost it) but I don’t think there’s as much future there for the GOP unlike Ohio or Wisconsin.

Michael: Michigan is one of the curious states where Democrats have been pretty resilient statewide since Trump but their state legislature is still controlled by Republicans. Do we think this is just a districting thing?

Lars: Yeah, I think the Democrats’ concentration in the major metro areas doesn’t help either.

Chris: Really I thought about putting it before Minnesota but the Democrats threw so much money at Michigan this time around it was almost worth it for the GOP just to spend $20 million to have the Dems burn up $98 million.

Yeah, Mike, there’s a bit of [redistricting] and I think governors are in a strange liminal space between national politics where hyper-partisanship prevails and the state legislatures where party matters more than personality, so people default to their partisanship.

Lars: It’s still a long ways away from Barack Obama defeating Mitt Romney (who had ties to the state!) by 10 points in 2012… or McCain by nearly seventeen points!

Michael: What do we make of the 2020 Senate race there? Peters only won by just under 2% even though Stabenow didn’t have much of an issue in 2018.

Lars: Yeah I think it’s a Trump thing, Mike. Michigan also has a problem with militias and alt right groups, a la… trying to kidnap their governor… that feels very Trumpy, as opposed to Romney, McCain, etc.

It feels like a place where Trump being on the ballot especially matters. Socially alienated voters who historically haven’t voted, etc.

Michael: Yeah… I know people will think Whitmer could be in for a tough reelection but I do wonder if the whole kidnapping thing plus the militia carrying guns into the state capitol takes on a whole new look to a lot of people post-1/6.

Chris: Yeah, it’s a close one. I think it’s all contingent on if Democrats get complacent in Michigan. I think the real goal is to spend just enough that the Dems have to spend a bunch or (if Dems don’t spend) throw on the cash and then eek out a win like [in 2016] or in 2020 like the Democrats did with Georgia/Arizona.

Lars: Biden’s margin over Trump in Michigan compared to Wisconsin or Pennsylvania is not negligible: nearly 3% as opposed to less than 1% and just about 1%. That’s a margin of over 150,000 votes as opposed to around 20,000 in Wisconsin’s case, for example.

Which might be a good segue for my last pick….

My “hot take” last pick is going to be Wisconsin. I think Democrats should probably just give it up. They really only barely won it in 2020 all things considered, they of course lost it in 2016. The trendlines in Wisconsin are not good for Democrats, it’s under the national average in bachelor’s degrees, it’s super white (the only “whiter” state we’ve mentioned so far is Iowa), it’s big enough that it’s hard to overcome a margin there if it continues getting redder, and it’s not worth it. It was the state where there were the most dollars spent per electoral vote in 2020 ($10.2 million per single electoral vote).

Democrats are too focused on the state that is clearly moving against them, and honestly — the signs have been there for a while. Scott Walker was a thing for a long time… and the state’s legislature has been controlled by Republicans the entire past decade too. And not just by slim margins, Republicans dominate at the state level in Wisconsin.

Michael: Tammy Baldwin and her 2018 re-election disagree.

Lars: Sure, and Tony Evers won there. In what was like an 8 point Democratic leaning midterm year in a very close state.

But no trend in Wisconsin is looking great for Democrats. Biden’s shocking underperformance there is actually pretty telling.

Michael: I get what you’re saying but it’s just very hard for me to justify looking at a state with a Democratic Senator who won re-election easily, an (admittedly embattled) Democratic Governor, and one that (admittedly narrowly) went for Biden in 2020 and saying “we should give up.”

Lars: I guess what I’m getting at is the amount of money and energy Wisconsin takes for what is clearly slipping away for Democrats feels unwarranted?

Michael: It could very well be the next Missouri, but I guess I’d want to have that confirmed, first by, say, the 2022 senate election.

Chris: Yeah I’m with Mike on this one. I think Scott Walker’s implementation of fiscal austerity actually did a number and that the Republicans’ control of the statehouse is despite the fact that Dems got more total votes in Wisconsin.

Lars: Yeah, the 2022 Senate election will be very telling but if you were to read the data without seeing the name of the state you’d think “oh, this is definitely a pretty safe Republican state that happens to have a Democratic governor, funny! It’s like Louisiana!”

And hey! This is the hot takes round!

Michael: Literally every statewide election in Wisconsin in 2018 was won by a Democrat. That is a far cry from Louisiana

Chris: I think it’s actually decently blue, it’s just got a VERY heavy gerrymander, though it seems like the only solution to that was the Supreme Court and that ain’t gonna happen anymore.

Lars: Touché… but I guess I more mean demographically, the whiteness and low education level, and the lack of an overpowering urban center don’t bode well for the Democrats.

And I think I lean towards Governor Evers losing reelection in 2022 too. And, not to keep harping on it… but if it’s truly such a blue state as you say, that has just been gerrymandered to hell, then why did Biden do so poorly this cycle, and Clinton for that matter in the cycle before!

Chris: Minnesota and Wisconsin are basically Scandinavia. Sure there is some diversity but it’s harder to say the government is giving money to “those other people” when most of the school cuts end up on the backs of people you have sympathy for.

Michael: I think that what you’re describing Chris is kind of key. It could be very well that the Scott Walker (even though he was elected twice)/Paul Ryan (even though he was elected from that state)/Sam Brownback style of conservatism does poorly in Wisconsin. But one based on racial resentment and massive dairy subsidies? That could have a lot of play, and is probably the direction a Josh Hawley or maybe even a Ron DeSantis or a Tom Cotton could go on the presidential level.

Lars: Well that’s all of our picks… so our final picks:

              Michael          Chris             Lars
1           Colorado         Iowa           Virginia
2             Ohio          Minnesota       Florida
3            Texas          Michigan      Wisconsin

Notably absent are New Hampshire, which has voted for the Democratic candidate for president for five cycles in a row, and Nevada, which has voted for the Democratic candidate for four cycles in a row and has a state government trifecta.

So, when Florida and Wisconsin swing dramatically for President Biden in 2024 and Colorado goes for Ted Cruz, call me shocked.

Any closing thoughts all?

Chris: sorry Minnesota and Wisconsin but you’re fundamentally the same, and thank🐍 for having me!

Lars: Haha, thanks for joining us Chris!

Maybe we’ll have you back to do the nine states the parties should focus MORE on!

Michael: Well Rick Scott thinks the GOP can win Senate seats in Illinois and Connecticut, so I’m sure he has some interesting thoughts about that.

Lars: Sure, and maybe Josh Hawley will decide to retire to pursue a career as an immigration rights lawyer. We all have our dream worlds.

Thanks for reading everyone and feel free to send us ideas on what we should talk about next!