President Donald Trump has already begun employing his "base strategy" for revving up his far-right, white, conservative base using racially tinged dog whistles.
Former senior strategist Steve Bannon told The New York Times in an interview that if Trump can turn the election to be about race and racism that he'll win by dividing the country up.
"The race-identity politics of the left wants to say it's all racist," Bannon said. "Just give me more. Tear down more statues. Say the revolution is coming. I can't get enough of it."
But according to the Wall Street Journal, that could end up being a losing strategy.
Most people who are being polled in America right now already have decided which party they're voting for in the 2020 elections. But if both the Democratic and Republican bases counteract each other, that leaves the independent, undecided voters as the swing vote. If Trump continues to go on with his overtly racist campaigning, he'll likely push people away, who may otherwise support his fiscal strategy but can't bring themselves to be aligned with an open racist.
"I'm definitely an 'it depends' kind of person," Lissa Fanith told The Journal. She appreciates the strong economy, but she's having a hard time with Trump's immigration policy that has resulted in ripping children away from their mothers and putting them in cells with unlivable conditions.
"With so many voters already fixed in their views, is a campaign better off trying to energize the people who already agree with its candidate and ensure that they vote? Or are there enough 'persuadable' voters that a campaign should spend time and money to win them over?" The Journal asked.
Many progressives believe that Democrats should similarly energize the base vote the way that Trump has. Others are arguing that they can make a play for independent voters in suburban areas who helped usher in many new Democratic members in the House in 2018. However, when Democrats ran campaign ads walking through the long history of Trump's racism in 2016, it didn't work. Then again, they didn't have a series of tweets calling the people of Baltimore trash. There wasn't a video of Trump calling Nazis and white supremacists "very fine people."
"Some recent surveys suggest that persuadable voters are a substantial force, representing as much as 15 percent or 20 percent of the electorate," The Journal reported. "Moreover, one analysis says, voters like these made all the difference for Democrats in the 2018 midterms, a change from the midterm of four years earlier, when they were less decisive to the outcome."
The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll put Trump in four different hypothetical matchups with leading Democratic candidates. About 80 percent of voters picked "one party's nominee over the other."
However, 20 percent of those voters switched between the parties depending on who the Democrat was. Therein lies the ever-elusive "swing voter."
"It's absolutely true that we're in a hyperpartisan environment where intensity in the base matters," said Charlie Cook who does the independent "Cook Political Report" and surveys voters. "But that doesn't really apply to the 20 percent [of swing voters]. These people are the exception to the rule. They don't love President Trump; they don't hate him."
Trump's base strategy may work to ensure results from far-right Republicans, but he might also mobilize Democrats against him too. Conservatives of color who have been willing to support Republicans may now feel that the Republican Party is no longer a safe place for them as voters. Democratic strategist Steve Phillips explained that those voters will be vital for Democrats not just in 2020 but in elections to come.
"Democrats absolutely need to devote the vast amount of their time, energy and effort to mobilize what I call the 'new American majority'—people of color and progressive whites—rather than chasing the chimera of persuadable voters," said Phillips.
Fanith explained that she supported Trump in 2016, but "if there is a candidate out there who is more accepting or loving toward the immigrant community, that would make me choose someone over him."