While our editors here at Press Publications establish guidelines and prepare for the 2019 local election, political analysts, prognosticators and pundits are already looking ahead toward the 2020 election.
A recent article originating on “The Hill” website titled “The 10 counties that will decide the 2020 election” includes a county right here in our coverage area. Washington County is among a group of counties described in the article as critical tipping points across the country that will determine the outcome of the 2020 election. The other counties on the list are scattered from Maine to Arizona and include Erie County, Pennsylvania, Sauk County, Wisconsin, Muskegon County, Michigan, Maricopa County, Arizona, Tarrant County, Texas, New Hanover County, North Carolina, Peach County, Georgia, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, and Lincoln County, Maine.
I’m personally not comfortable getting my information from a news feed that has been curated by an algorithm, so I attempt to get my news and information from a variety of sources, including “The Hill.” According to Wikipedia, “The Hill” is an American political newspaper and website published in Washington, D.C. since 1994 with a mission of “nonpartisan reporting on the inner workings of Congress and the nexus of politics and business.”
At Allsides.com, a website dedicated to displaying news stories from the Left, Center and Right of the political spectrum, as a way of exposing readers to information and ideas from a variety of sources, “The Hill” was given a “Center” rating on a Media Bias Ratings list comprised of 600 news outlets. Each news outlet is given a rating along a spectrum ranging from Left, Leaning Left, Center, Leaning Right to Right. This site is a pretty good place to gauge whether or not the sources you’re accessing for news are perpetuating a “filter bubble” by just reaffirming preexisting viewpoints.
Dozens of strategists, political scientists and observers were interviewed for the story, written by Reid Wilson. Each county is given a brief historical overview along with key reasons it is viewed as a strategic indicator. According to the article, Minnesota is “one of a small number of states that voted for Clinton in 2016 that presents Trump with a chance to expand his map in 2020. If he wants to win here, he must carry Washington County, along the border with Wisconsin.” The county’s historic role as the birthplace of the state of Minnesota is briefly noted, along with its current blend of “rural roots and exurban sprawl.”
Another characteristic that is noted about Washington County is that it is not firmly locked into an allegiance with one political party. “Washington County voted twice for George W. Bush, then twice for Obama. Clinton carried Washington County by just 1.8 percentage points, almost exactly the margin by which she carried Minnesota as a whole.”
We don’t often get a viewpoint of a county in our own backyard from a national and politically strategic perspective. I’m speculating, but I believe that the fact voters in Washington County do not consistently vote along a straight party line indicates a high level of engagement and not simply voting based on past allegiances and habits.
These key counties, including Washington here in Minnesota, are described as “diverse as the American electorate” and provide a snapshot of what the country looks like at this key moment in history. I hope, at a fundamental level, we can reaffirm that we have much more in common with our neighbors than the exploited and sometimes magnified differences that threaten to divide and pull us apart.
Paul Dols is photojournalist/website editor for Press Publications. He can be reached at 651-407-1238 or email@example.com.