Rachel Bitecofer, a political science professor at Christopher Newport University, achieved geek fame by accurately predicting months in advance that the Democratic Party would pick up 40 seats in the House in 2018.
Bitecofer's scholarship focuses more on voter behavior than raw polling data, and her prediction for 2020 is simple: Democrats need to focus on bringing out their base, and not worry so much about converting "moderate" Republican/Trump voters or focusing huge dollars on swing states. Her segment Monday (above and transcribed below) was so popular that Lawrence had her back on Tuesday.
RACHEL BITECOFER: You did really well. You were not alone. I married that monster and it tackles everybody. Don't you worry.
O'DONNELL: We'll turn it into a beautiful thing for our audience.
Rachel. I have read your writing on this. It is really persuasive. I urge everybody follow you on your twitter and we'll do a tip of the iceberg version of it right now. 278. Do you see whoever the Democrat is with 278 electoral votes. Eight more than needed for victory. That's at a starting point, they'll start at the 278 before we get to four swing contests in Iowa and North Carolina, Florida and Arizona.
You are using tools in the legislature there where we saw a surprising surge for Democrats in 2017 and then you transferred that experience in 2018. What does it tell you about the electorate and what is motivating the voter that will produce the results that you would expect?
RACHEL BITECOFER: That's right. I really do urge everybody who's watching this to go read the model and theory that drives the model because it really is a very huge of what you are seeing in forecasting. It is arguing that the election of Donald Trump is a needed kerosene on a lazy Democratic electorate, to kind of sit back and ride Obama's coattails and did not show and kind of took for granted that Trump would not be elected and in 2017 in Virginia and 2018 across the nation, we saw big turn out surges. The media likes to talk about 2018 is the moderate Republicans rejecting the party of Trump and joining hands with Democrats and swing districts. That's not what the data shows. The house gains in 2018 are powered by two things, turn out surges among Democrats and independents, not moderate Republicans jumping ships.
O'DONNELL: Your argument is, it is all about the turnout and energizing that turnout and speak to your voters than trying to convince Trump voters to switch in 2020.
BITECOFER: Exactly. I think we need no more proof than to look at the election of Donald J. Trump, the time where you can persuade large groups have passed. There are moderates and they could be appealed to and although Democrats don't do it well, but really it is all about the base.
O'DONNELL: Professor Rachel Bitecofer. We'll have to have you back. We'll take more notes. Really appreciate you joining us tonight.
BITECOFER: Love it, thank you so much for having me.