Democratic group to spend $100M targeting 2020 battlegrounds

WASHINGTON (AP) — A major Democratic group on Thursday announced plans to spend at least $100 million in battleground states during the 2020 election in hopes of denying President Donald Trump a second term.

Surveys conducted by Priorities USA suggest Trump is vulnerable in many of the same Rust Belt states that sealed his victory in 2016, such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, as well as Florida. Their research indicates antipathy toward Hillary Clinton drove some of the party's traditional voters to Trump and third-party candidates like Jill Stein, while others simply did not turn out.

To win in 2020, Democrats say they must lure those voters back, get more people to cast ballots and hammer Trump with a consistent message that can withstand the daily uproars that have helped define his time in the White House.

Trump frequently takes credit for the overall good health of the economy. But Priorities operatives argue that the prosperity hasn't trickled down to average Americans — which will be a major theme of their attacks.

"There is a lot of anxiety around the cost of living going up despite the fact that wages have remained fairly stagnant," said Priorities USA executive director Patrick McHugh. "Our job is to connect this anxiety people are feeling ... directly to the decisions and actions that Trump and the administration are taking."

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

McHugh would not say how much Priorities, which is one of the largest outside Democratic groups, plans to spend during the 2020 election. But he said it expended about $200 million during the 2016 cycle.

Earlier this month they announced a separate $30 million initiative that will finance court challenges to restrictive Republican-backed voter laws.

The research released Thursday shows there is a path to reclaim Midwest battlegrounds they lost to Trump in 2016 that were once referred to as the Democrats' "Blue Wall."

They found in many of those states that more Democrats than Republicans voted for third-party candidates and that Democrats also accounted for a bigger block of registered voters who did not go to the polls.

"We expect that in 2020 it will be the highest turnout ever in a presidential race," McHugh said. "It's something we are going to have to dedicate resources and time and energy to."