The “Trump, Plus 1” Model: How America’s Rustbelt will Elect our Next President


The President’s Path to Re-Election in 2020 – 3 Possible (two of which are very likely) Scenarios that Give Donald Trump the Edge over Joe Biden – and the White House for another four years.

As President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden dig in for the last remaining sprint to election day – November 3, 2020 – the pundits and political experts are out in force with their predictions. The crystal balls are clearer than ever – according to the “poll of polls” now forecasting a sizable Biden/Harris victory over Donald Trump and Mike Pence. The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 206,000 lives in less than nine months. There’s still rampant civil unrest and rioting from coast to coast. And the economy is still in the doldrums.

How could any incumbent stave off such perilous conditions and possibly win re-election? Upsets have happened in the past (Harry Truman in 1948, Donald Trump in 2016) – and will surely happen once again – but if President Trump is to take the oath of office on January 20, 2021, it will be a direct result of stitching together the 270 electoral votes in one of three possible scenarios for the incumbent president. The path to victory for both Biden and Trump have many avenues indeed, some logical and highly possible, others, more extreme and unlikely.

The “Trump, Plus 1” Model: How America’s Rustbelt will Elect our Next President

3 Ways Trump Could (and likely will) Win Re-Election in 2020.

All three scenarios are based on a simple model of Trump holding all of his “base” and “battleground base” states, and then picking up one (1) of three (3) “battleground rustbelt states”. I call it the “Trump, Plus 1” Model”. The three (3) scenarios are listed in order of likelihood, meaning Michigan is the most probable win for Trump, with Wisconsin being the least likely of the three (3) “battleground rustbelt states”.

  • Scenario #1 – Base + Battleground Base + Battleground Rustbelt-1 (Michigan)
  • Scenario #2 – Base + Battleground Base + Battleground Rustbelt-2 (Pennsylvania)
  • Scenario #3 – Base + Battleground Base + Battleground Rustbelt-3 (Wisconsin)

Simply stated, in the above three scenarios, “if” Trump can hold all of his “base” and “battleground base” states, he only needs to win one of the three “battleground rustbelt” states – just one. No fuzzy math here, rather, simple, black and white counting of electoral votes.

“Base” States

In the “Trump, Plus 1” model, the “base” are the solid and/or heavily leaning red states which Trump will surely carry. From Alabama to Wyoming, Trump has twenty-four (24) states in his corner, that – barring some type of political catastrophic swing of events for the president – he’ll win quite easily on election night. In all reality, almost all political experts on both sides of the aisle don’t foresee a Biden victory in any of these states. These 24 states give Trump a solid footing of 204 electoral votes, just 66 away from the must-have 270 votes.


1. Alabama – 9 electoral votes
2. Alaska – 3 electoral votes
3. Arkansas – 6 electoral votes
4. Georgia – 16 electoral votes
5. Idaho – 4 electoral votes
6. Indiana – 11 electoral votes
7. Iowa – 6 electoral votes
8. Kansas – 6 electoral votes
9. Kentucky – 8 electoral votes
10. Louisiana – 8 electoral votes
11. Mississippi – 6 electoral votes
12. Missouri – 10 electoral votes
13. Montana – 3 electoral votes
14. Nebraska – *5 electoral votes
15. North Dakota – 3 electoral votes
16. Ohio – 18 electoral votes
17. Oklahoma – 7 electoral votes
18. South Carolina – 9 electoral votes
19. South Dakota – 3 electoral votes
20. Tennessee – 11 electoral votes
21. Texas – 38 electoral votes
22. Utah – 6 electoral votes
23. West Virginia – 5 electoral votes
24. Wyoming – 3 electoral votes

“Base” = 204 electoral votes

Note: Trump’s base of 204 electoral votes assumes he wins – at a minimum – either Nebraska’s 2nd District (1 electoral vote) or Maine’s 2nd District vote (1 electoral vote). In 2016, he won both of them, so it’s unlikely he’ll somehow lose both in 2020. Polls show him trending slightly behind in both districts, but again, those are the “poll of polls”, which have proven false.  Thus, he’s at a solid 204 electoral votes for his base.

“Battleground Base” States

The “battleground base” are states that Trump won in 2016, but are now trending into the tossup column, but in all likelihood, should swing back to Trump’s corner in the closing weeks and days of the election (and as of this publication, they have). These are states that are slowly migrating more and more to the left as changing demographics are challenging the GOP like never before – but – the GOP still has them in their corner – for now.

Battleground Base:

1. Florida – 29 electoral votes
2. Arizona – 11 electoral votes
3. North Carolina – 15 electoral votes

Note: To the surprise of many, Ohio is not a battleground state. I have Trump polling strongly in the Buckeye State.
“Battleground Base” = 55 votes.

Add it up, and the president is at 259 electoral votes when holding both his “base” (204 electoral votes) + “battleground base” (55 electoral votes) states. He’s only 11 votes away from victory .

“Battleground Rustbelt” States

Then there’s the “battleground rustbelt” states, key states that Trump will need to win (at least one of them, in the Trump, Plus 1 model) to secure his re-election.

1. Michigan – 16 electoral votes
2. Pennsylvania – 20 electoral votes
3. Wisconsin – 10 electoral votes

Scenario #1

Trump, Plus 1 (Michigan)

Michigan – 16 electoral votes

Why Michigan for Trump: For decades, defining the Michigan electorate was rather simple. Go north and westbound and you’ll find the Republicans. Head to metro Detroit and factory towns, and you’ll find the Democrats. But it’s not that simple anymore, that’s because of how Trump carved up Michigan in the most-unlikeliest of ways in 2016. Trump edged out Hillary Clinton in 2016 by just 3/10th of one percentage point. Just 10,704 votes separated the two candidates. Yes, it was that close. Michigan voters aren’t unique when they voice frustration with Trump’s behavior – tweets and insults go hand in hand with this president – yet also see him as a strong leader, someone who has helped the economy rebuild and recover.

Michigan voters have also largely supported the president’s response to the wave of social unrest that has swept the nation in recent months. Said a longtime Michigan political operative, “The riots have produced a lot of movement that has been helpful for Trump.”

And African-American voters are not particularly excited about a Biden-Harris ticket, that, according to Karen Dumas, a communications strategist and veteran of Detroit politics. Says Dumas, “While a lot of people don’t like what they have seen come out of the Trump administration, I don’t think Biden and Harris have ignited them as well as they should have.”

How does Trump win Michigan? By pushing deeper and deeper into the I-75 Corridor and Thumb region of the state by capturing critical counties as he did in 2016 – like Saginaw and Bay (Trump was the first Republican to win these two counties since Ronald Reagan). Trump also has to make inroads into Metro Detroit, which accounts for a whopping 44.5 percent of the states’ population, and approximately 67 percent of the total vote turnout for Michigan. Trump will get decimated in Wayne and Oakland Counties, while Livingston Country will heavily favor the president.

Trump will also need to hold both Ken County – and pivotal Macomb County – arguably the single most important county in terms of deciding the 2020 presidential race. Macomb County is a predominately industrial county that was a longstanding stronghold for Democrats, but completely flipped in 2016 and backed Trump. In 2012, Obama edged out Romney in Macomb County by a healthy 17,000 votes, yet Trump crushed Clinton by 48,348 votes. That’s roughly a 65,000 vote swing that essentially gave Trump Michigan. How important is Macomb County for Trump? According to Jonathan Hanson, a public policy professor at the University of Michigan. “If Trump is not putting up numbers like a margin, say, at least 30,000 in Macomb County, it seems unlikely he could win Michigan”.

So, where do Macomb County voters stand on the election? Ditch the robo polling calls to landlines and hit the local diners to get the true pulse. “I am a Donald Trump supporter but I can’t tell any of my friends,” said Kathy Connolly, 72, a semi-retired real estate agent who voted for Clinton four years ago. “As far as his morals, I don’t like them. As far as his policies, I like them.” As for Biden, said Maria Gonzales, a 43 year-old Latino mother of three and lifelong Democrat, “He’s just too old. He looks tired when he speaks. How can he handle the pressure of being president?”

It’s a recurring theme playing out in Macomb County, all throughout Michigan, and the rest of the country – Biden is physically and mentally not up to the job, the enthusiasm for his candidacy remains low, and while voters disapprove of Trump personally, they favor his economic policies. Interestingly, in 1996, exit polls from voters found Republican candidate Bob Dole to be the more honest, trustworthy individual, with Clinton receiving low marks for his character and ethics. Well, America votes its pocket books before its morals as Clinton demolished Dole in an electoral and popular vote landslide.

But there’s more than the I-75 corridor and Metro Detroit. There’s the tri-state, central area (Eight counties: Lenawee, Hillsdale, Branch, Jackson, Calhoun, Ingham, Eaton and Clinton), the West/Southwest area (12 counties: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Cass, Ionia, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, Oceana, Ottawa, St. Joseph and Van Bure), and Northern Michigan (48 counties).
Reports from these counties I’ve received have Trump increasing his support from 2016, which if true, should give the president reasons to smile.

You might ask, what exactly am I referring to in terms of “reports”? I’m talking to campaign operatives in both Republican and Democratic circles and getting hard data on voter registration for both parties. I’m getting data from focus groups being conducted. And I’m getting the “beat on the street” from locals who can tell us the real mindset of the electorate. I’ve had dozens of phone calls and traded countless emails with political operatives on the ground.

The consensus?

Trump is surging and his support has largely been ignored by the mainstream media. But probably the most alarming report of all for the Biden camp is that I’m being told Trump’s support in 2020 is significantly stronger and larger than it was in 2016.

Perhaps the best “pulse” on the race between Trump and Biden was noted by Nolan Finley of the Detroit News. “My political instincts are influenced by what I see on front lawns. Drive around metro Detroit and yards are sprouting Trump signs. Giant Trump flags cover the sides of houses and wave from the beds of pick-ups and the decks of boats. There are more Biden signs than there were for Clinton in 2016, but still far fewer, it seems, than for Trump.”

Voter registration for the GOP is up in Macomb County, and in other critical counties. Trump’s base is energized all throughout the state. A significant number of Democrats and independents – while they loathe Trump’s personal antics – favor his policies. In the end, it all adds up to a Trump victory in Michigan.

Prediction: Michigan to Trump (16 electoral votes)

Electoral Count: “Base” + “Battleground Base” + “Battleground Rustbelt (Michigan)” = 275 electoral votes.


Scenario #2

Trump, Plus 1 (Pennsylvania)

Pennsylvania – 20 electoral votes

Why Pennsylvania for Trump: The Keystone state was yet another razor close Rustbelt win for then candidate Trump in 2016. Trump edged out Clinton by just over one percentage point; a scant 44, 202 vote margin out of more than 6,000,000 votes cast. Like Michigan, Pennsylvania went down to the wire and into the early morning hours of post-election Wednesday. So, who is really on top in Pennsylvania? The “poll of polls” show a healthy 3 to 5 percentage point lead for Biden, but in all reality, it’s much, much closer than what the experts are saying.

Trump’s keys to victory are relatively straightforward. Stop the bleeding in Democratic strongholds counties of Philadelphia, Alleghany, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery, while continuing to expand his vote count in Bucks, Lancaster, and other reliably red Pennsylvania regions. Every Republican in recent years has been decimated by the massive Democratic vote count of the Southeastern counties in Pennsylvania (that’s metro Philadelphia) and also in metro Pittsburgh (Allegheny County), and Trump was no different.

If I had to pick a county in Pennsylvania that’s not only key to the President’s re-election, but a mirror of how other closely contested counties will vote, I’m going with Erie County in Northwestern Pennsylvania. Long a Democratic stronghold, Trump flipped it in 2016, besting Hillary Clinton by just 3,000 votes. Yet in 2012, Obama trounced Romney by almost 20,000 votes. Watch closely the results from Erie. As Erie goes, so will the Keystone State.

Politics is really simple math; get more votes than your opponent, and for Trump, he’s on path to do just that. For starters, the GOP in Pennsylvania have registered more Republicans than Democrats in the last two years. And over the last four years, data shows that the GOP has reduced the gap by 160,000 registered voters – that’s significant. Next, enthusiasm is at an all all-time high for Trump in Pennsylvania, which translates to registered voters that will actually show up to the polls and vote for the incumbent president.

Additionally, Trump continues to make small, incremental inroads into the blue-collar working class of Pennsylvania voters. It’s a 150 votes here, 500 votes there, another 1,500 votes in an obscure county that nobody has paid attention to for decades in terms of presidential races. Add it all up, and Trump’s moving the needle in his direction.

Pennsylvania is a reflection of Michigan, just as much as Michigan is a reflection of Pennsylvania. Middle-class, blue-collar whites – long loyal to the Democratic party – broke ranks in 2016 to Trump’s camp, and the defection has just grown stronger in four years. As for the president’ twitter rants and at times obnoxious behavior, says a Pennsylvania voter, “There’s a shock factor, for sure…but I think we know what to expect now…He’s not a politician, and that’s why he works for us.”

Biden’s back-and-forth “yes, I’ll ban fracking, no I won’t” and other dubious comments have once again raised suspicions in the eyes of voters that the former vice president is just another in a long line of politicians who’ll say whatever they need to say to get elected. Biden, who for years was known as “Pennsylvania’s Third Senator”, has no doubt strongly positioned himself to win the Keystone state, but is it enough to lift him to victory?

Perhaps the answer to who wins Pennsylvania lies with Lochel’s bakery in Hatboro, PA (Montgomery County) who has been selling red “Trump 2020” and blue “Biden 2020” sugar cookies. The total cookie sale count as of October 27th? 18,241 red cookies sold to just 3,367 blue cookies – all from a county that Hillary Clinton won by a massive 21.5 percentage points (98,000 votes) over Donald Trump in 2016. Sure, it’s just cookies, but does it tell a deeper story, one missed by the so-called expert pollsters? Perhaps.

A more telling sign than cookies are yard signs and what friends are saying about each other’s in terms of voting. Says a longtime resident of Pennsylvania, now a New York Times Editorial Assistant, “My parents, who are divorced…say that, in their respective circles…my father’s wife will vote for Mr. Trump…as will all his friends. My mom says many of her girlfriends will go for Mr. Trump…She [my mom] lives in Montgomery County, just southwest of here, and went to the same high school as Jill Biden. The front yards of the houses flanking my mom’s, the one across the street and three more on the block [all] feature Trump signs. There is [just] one Biden sign on the street. One of my mom’s acquaintances recently held a Trump-themed birthday party for her child. Icing on each cookie read, “Make ninth birthdays great again.”

I’m calling Pennsylvania for Trump in yet another razor close election in the Keystone State.

Prediction: Pennsylvania to Trump (20 electoral votes)

Electoral Count: “Base” + “Battleground Base” + “Battleground Rustbelt (Pennsylvania) Battle” = 279 electoral votes.


Scenario #3

Trump, Plus 1 (Wisconsin)

Wisconsin – 10 electoral votes

Why Wisconsin for Biden: I won’t delve into the details, rather, just the mood is quite bleak in Wisconsin with COVID-19. This is a hard state to read, largely due to the fact that Trump stitched together the necessary votes from countless rural regions to claim victory in 2016, these very regions that have expressed concern with the way the president has handled COVID. But will they abandon him? More than likely, no, but will they get out and vote in force on election day? This is a toss-up for me at this point, as operatives I have on the ground are telling me it’s so incredibly close. I’ll give the edge right now to Vice President Biden, but still leaving the window open that Trump has an opening here. Again, winning Wisconsin is the unlikeliest path of my three scenarios, but if Michigan and Pennsylvania break for Biden (which I simply do not see happening), Trump is in a must-win in Wisconsin.

Prediction: Wisconsin to Biden (10 electoral votes)

Final Analysis

Trump Wins both Michigan and Pennsylvania. These two states, coupled with his “Base” + “Battleground Base” states give the president a total of 295 Votes.

Final Electoral College Predictor for the 2020 Presidential Election

Donald J. Trump: 295 Electoral Votes

Joe Biden: 243 Electoral Votes

About the Author

I was in Washington on 9/11, the day the terrorists attacked the Pentagon. Seeing the events unfold and how the nation responded put a new face on our country and inspired a new mission for me. For the last two decades, I’ve worked with hundreds of US and international organizations in helping them obtain a true competitive advantage with cybersecurity, data privacy, and regulatory compliance.

I’m a frequent guest speaker to organizations all throughout North America, while also providing essential national security, cybersecurity and advisory services to some of the world’s most recognized brands. I’m a founding member and senior partner in two consulting & compliance firms, along with the co-founder of an industry leading cloud-based, workflow management platform used by thousands of businesses around the world. I’m also co-founder of the National Cybersecurity Association (NCA), [set to launch in Q1, of 2021], North America’s signature voice for today’s current and emerging information security, cybersecurity, data privacy, and regulatory compliance laws & regulations.

I consult regularly with top political and business leaders throughout the world, including former vice presidents of the United States, White House chiefs of staff, secretaries of state and defense, ambassadors, high-ranking intelligence officials, CEOs, entrepreneurs, civic leaders, and others. The time I’ve spent with these transformational figures and the insights they’ve shared has afforded me a front-row seat into many of the world’s most consequential events of the past five decades, and what lies ahead.

I’m an established author, with multiple books currently in print, along with being selected as the personal biographer for two of America’s former Vice PresidentsDick Cheney, a giant in US politics, and Dan Quayle, sworn into office at just 41 years old. My upcoming publications include Texas Titans (2020), the story of two legends in US politics: George H.W. Bush and James A. Bakers, III and Blindsided (2021), an in-depth examination of today’s growing challenges with cyber-attacks, data breaches, terrorism & social violence.


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