While Orlando, Florida was feeling the 2020 election hype at President Trump’s reelection kickoff rally, people in Fort Wayne are also looking toward 2020.
Some in Fort Wayne said they already believe the President will not do well in 2020. Others said he will win handily with Indiana playing a key role.
“Indiana is going to be the epicenter for strong support for President Trump and Mike Pence,” said Allen County Republican Party Chairman Steve Shine. “Let’s not forget that in 2016. President Trump and Mike Pence soundly defeated the Democratic candidate in that year.”
“I think right now, President Trump’s in trouble,” said Fort Wayne voter Matthew Martino. “He puts himself well above the public. He doesn’t really know what the working man or woman is going through right now in this country.”
At least one person said the important thing is that while the election events are happening states away, Indiana voters should still pay attention.
“We have to keep in mind that this is not localized just in Iowa or just in New Hampshire,” said Andrew Downs, the director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue Fort Wayne. “On the Democratic side, if you look at where they’re going, they are all over the country because with this many candidates, they are recognizing that ‘well, maybe, I can not do well in one state but pick up later on,’ or ‘even if I do well in, say, Iowa, I have to prove that I can do well in a state that is less homogeneous like a South Carolina.'”
Downs also said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg could play a key role in the general election even if he doesn’t win the Democratic nomination. Downs said a Democratic ticket with Buttigieg’s name on it could pressure President Trump to campaign more in Indiana than he normally would. Downs compared it to what happened with President Obama in 2008.
“In 2008, people wouldn’t have said Indiana was going to be in play, Downs said. “That happened in part because Barack Obama had the fight in Indiana in the primary, and that structure, all those volunteers, all that paid staff, they were still available. They were able to work throughout the summer and even if the state had not gone his way, it put pressure on the other side to campaign in Indiana when normally that’s not what would have happened.”
President Obama wound up winning Indiana that year.
Shine said he believes Indiana will do more than just go to Donald Trump.
“Indiana will be very important for supporting President Trump and Mike Pence,” Shine said. “It will be also important in repudiating Peter Buttigieg. The last time Peter Buttigieg ran for statewide office, he was soundly defeated for the office of treasurer. There was no interest in him as a statewide candidate at that time, and I have no reason to believe that he will be anymore accepted, perhaps even less than the last time he ran for statewide office.”
The Democratic Presidential candidates will have their first debate next week in Miami.