Donald Trump's lash at four non-white congresswomen to "go back" to their countries appears to give a clear indication of how he will approach the 2020 election.
The US President wants to rerun what worked in 2016: A hyper-negative assault on opponents, combined with base turnout while taking advantage of the Electoral College (EC) system.
The attack on the four officials, three of whom are US-born, and "send her back" chants at a rally suggest an ugly, race-baiting election. Trump will accuse the Democrats of being extreme-left and in favour of open borders. He will try to drive up the Democratic nominee's negative ratings.
This betrays some desperation. His low approval ratings tend to be a bit higher in periods of relative calm. He should be able to make the still-humming economy and 4 per cent unemployment the centrepiece of his case for re-election. Yet some voters who approve of his performance on the economy are also turned off by his behaviour.
Trump was fortunate in 2016 to face in Hillary Clinton an opponent with high unfavourable ratings and political baggage. The unpopularity of both candidates meant turnout in 2016 was the lowest since 1996. Trump was also a novelty underdog challenger. That element of surprise has gone. His opponents now know he is capable of winning.
His attack allowed the Democrats in Congress to temporarily present a united front. But there is tension over impeachment and other issues between the senior leadership and youth wing.
On the campaign trail, a consensus candidate is yet to emerge. Next week's CNN debates will see Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in one contest. The most likely potential party figureheads, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, will be in the other.
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Whoever wins the nomination will need to inspire a greater turnout from black voters. The black vote was down in 2016 by nearly 6 per cent from 2012. But the nominee also needs to appeal enough to Rust Belt voters to bring Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan back to the fold.
It's here that the EC, which will be decided by a few swing states, could be the President's Trump card. In an NBC analysis headlined "How Trump could lose by five million votes and still win", Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report said most demographic change — which favoured Democrats — was occurring in non-competitive states. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, which Trump won by less than a point, had "some of the nation's highest shares of white voters without college degrees — a group trending away from Democrats over the long term".
In a similar analysis, the New York Times' Nate Cohn said: "A strategy rooted in racial polarisation could at once energise parts of the President's base and rebuild support among wavering white working-class voters".
However, Cohn points out Trump's approval rating is well under 50 per cent in states worth more than 270 EC votes.
His opponents have no room for error.