- - Thursday, December 26, 2019

2020 is a gigantic year in politics. Here are some thoughts on the new year.

First, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg will win the Iowa caucuses. Midwesterner Barack Obama began his unstoppable momentum in the fields of this battleground state that helped break racial barriers in 2008. A similar phenomenon could happen for the mayor from Indiana in 2020.

Grassroots organizing really matters in caucuses. The Buttigieg team seems to have its act together on the ground. His youthful energy seems to be exciting the kind of activists who show up on cold winter nights in the first state to hold caucuses.

New Hampshire is a toss-up for Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Both come from neighboring states. Both have spent tireless hours campaigning in the Granite State. And both have radical socialist views that appeal to the extreme of the party.

If either senator were not in the race, the other would probably be the runaway front runner. Until one or the other gets out, they will split the far left of the party. This does leave an opening for Mr. Buttigieg to win New Hampshire, but voters there tend to shy away from giving the winner of the Iowa caucuses a boost.

The fact that four candidates are now polling above 15 percent in Iowa and New Hampshire is significant. Since 1992, no Democrat primary or caucus in any state has had four candidates win at least 15 percent of the vote. At this point, there is a real horse race.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has to win South Carolina to stay competitive (and to raise the money he will need to stay in the race). The Palmetto State is the place for the former vice president’s appeal to rise to the top.

Even though he is another old, white guy, Mr. Biden still has a very positive appeal with African-American voters. A poll in November had the former vice president leading his competitors by 20 points in South Carolina and by 33 points with black voters. That lead will narrow but Mr. Biden should win the primary.

Mr. Biden’s lead is not as large in Nevada as it is in South Carolina, but look for him to carry that state, too. And even if Mr. Buttigieg carries both Iowa and New Hampshire the polls show him way out of contention in Nevada and South Carolina. These are must-win states for the Biden camp — particularly if they fail to win the first two contests.

Super Tuesday takes place on March 3, after the South Carolina primary. More than a dozen states hold primary or caucus elections on that one day. California has more than twice as many delegates up for grabs that day as do the first four states combined.

On Super Tuesday, it will cost a lot of money to win. Watch for former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to do well. Unlike candidate Tom Steyer, who seems to be wasting his millions in the early states where retail is king, Mr. Bloomberg’s team appears to have a strategy by waiting to strike on the multi-state dates.

Cynics might point to the failed strategy of another former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, in 2008. The biggest difference is money. Rudy’s cash was gone when he needed it. Presumably, Mr. Bloomberg will still be able to write more checks to his campaign to keep it going well into the 2020 primary and caucus season.

All of this leads to the obvious question: Might there be a contested DNC convention in Milwaukee next summer? Not likely.

Still, if there were a modern-day scenario where it could play out, the path Democrats are heading in 2020 could be it. That would be the kiss of death for the forces trying to replace President Donald Trump.

Even with a nominee going into the convention, Democrats will have a tough fight in 2020. Oddly enough, the impeachment battle made it more likely that the president will get re-elected next year.

Voters in my home state are responding to the impeachment much as they did to the protests and recall election years ago here in Wisconsin. Liberals are all worked up and take out their emotions in massive protests. Conservatives finally get worked up and rally for the election. And independents want action over partisan bickering.

The more that President Trump can show that he is doing good things for the American people, the better off he is with independent voters. Continued signs of economic growth, low unemployment and higher wages will keep voters happy in the coming year.

Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania will be the deciding states in the 2020 election. All three are too close to call, but President Trump has an opportunity to win each of them next fall — particularly if voters see him as getting things done while Democrats do not.

• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him @ScottWalker.

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