What do Democrats need to do to win in the 2020 election and beyond?
* Show off the virtues of the Democratic agenda in state houses we control, rather than insisting on trying to show that Democrats can get something done primarily in Congress, where only legislation acceptable to Donald Trump and hard line Republicans in the Senate can pass.
* Demonstrate at the state level that Democrats can take meaningful steps to reduce teen pregnancy, enact sensible gun control legislation, broaden access to higher education, legalize marijuana, reduce unnecessary and costly excessive incarceration, fund relatively inexpensive government bureaucracies and court systems at levels necessary to meet the needs of growing businesses, roll back unnecessary occupational licensing regulation, use all available means to make health care more accessible, etc.
* In Congress, one potentially fruitful way to cross the aisle may be to try to distinguish Mormon Republicans, whose bases in states like Utah and Idaho were skeptical of Trump in the first place, to break with other Republicans on select issues targeting Trump's corruption and immorality. The Democrat's hand will be strongest on budget and appropriations issues and those issues can be leveraged for gains on other fronts. Sentencing reform and marijuana legalization may be exceptions where good legislation can be passed as Republicans have eventually come around to Democratic positions on these issues.
* In particular, hammer the administration on unpopular decisions like weak approaches towards Saudi Arabia, Russia and North Korea, inhumane treatment of immigrants, especially children and Dreamers, tax cuts restricted to big corporations and the rich that have produced large, peacetime deficits, corruption, environmental regulations such as endangered species protections and clean water, poor disaster responses, and support for white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Democrats have nothing to gain from cooperating to achieve half-measures with Trump.
* Keep fighting back and building outrage over Trump's conduct as President. This is what drove record turnout for the midterms. The 2020 election can have record turnout too, particularly given record turnout from Millennials for their age group.
Election Law Reform
* Push election administration innovations that increased voter turnout like election day voter registration and all mail-in ballots and an end of signature matching for mail-in ballots in states that Democrats control legislatively, and in states that Democrats do not control, by initiative where possible.
* Push legislation and ballot initiatives to mandate that only candidates with majorities can win seats, requiring runoffs or rank choice voting in cases where the plurality candidate receives less than 50% of the vote, so that third-party candidates don't act as spoilers.
State By State Efforts
* Flip states that Trump won narrowly in 2016. Many states were very narrow wins for Trump in 2016: Wisconsin (0.7%), Pennsylvania (0.7%), and Michigan (0.3%) stand out, but Arizona (3.5%), North Carolina (3.6%) and Florida (1.2%) are also states that were reasonably close in 2016 and can be flipped in 2020. These are states that a Democrat in 2020 running against a campaign by Trump who has shown his true colors ought to be able to win.
* Defend states that Clinton won narrowly in 2016. Maine (which went for Clinton by 3.0 percentage points, but gave Trump one electoral vote in the 2nd Congressional District by 10 percentage points, which flipped to a Democrat in the House in 2018), New Hampshire (0.3%), Minnesota (1.5%) and Nevada (2.4%) were narrow wins for Clinton in 2016 and can't be taken for granted. Clinton won Colorado with a 4.9% margin in 2016 and the trend line in Colorado in the midterms was even more strongly towards the Democratic party, so Colorado may need less attention in 2020.
* Iowa (9.4%) and Ohio (8.1%) which voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 are also winnable with the right candidate, even though they weren't close in 2016. A Midwestern nominee might be attractive.
* Democrats need a candidate who is strong in these swing states, not in states that are strongly GOP leaning, or in safe blue states.
* Work on long run party building in Arizona, following in the footsteps of similar successful efforts in Colorado, Nevada and Virginia. Arizona has supported moderate Northeastern style Republicans in the past. As the GOP has moved to the right, there is room for big tent Democrats to win Arizonans over. Even if Democrats don't win the Presidential election in 2020 in Arizona, this is one of the few states that has a potential to shift its long run partisan leanings in the long run, joining its neighbors California, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado in the mountain states. Democrats aren't up against deep seated cultural commitments in Arizona in the way that they are in the South and many rural states or states with large Mormon populations.
* In Florida, devote lots of resources early to registering to vote the 1.4 million people with felony records who were newly enfranchised by the passage of issue 4, and Hurricane Maria migrants from Puerto Rico; improve election administration in large counties where Democrats control county government; and pursue litigation now to outlaw and prevent dirty trick voter suppression tactics utilized in the midterm election cycle.
* Develop a stronger economic issues agenda to address the concerns of voters in the Rust Belt (e.g. Northern Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, and Southern Michigan).
* Provide solid Democratic party candidates to take on Cory Gardner in Colorado and Susan Collins in Maine.