Ben Shapiro: How To Win In 2020 | Opinion

As Americans process the results of the 2018 midterm elections, two competing narratives have broken out. Republicans state that the midterms show President Trump's continued draw and pull; Democrats state that the midterms show America's new appetite for progressivism.

Among Republicans, the conventional wisdom seems to be that President Trump has a certain electoral magic. Trump himself mirrors that perspective: the day after the election, he took to the podium to slam Republicans who hadn't associated themselves with him closely enough. He chortled, "They did very poorly. I'm not sure that I should be happy or sad, but I feel just fine about it." Trump, according to both Trump and many of his allies, was the only man standing between Republicans and absolute doom.

Among Democrats, the conventional wisdom seems to be that ardent progressivism won the day—and that the only recipe is more cowbell. Van Jones of CNN summarized, "In this new election, we witnessed the end of two years of one-party rule and the beginning of a new Democratic Party: younger, browner, cooler; with more women, more veterans and the ability to contest and win races from a deep South to the Midwest."

In reality, both of these takes are wrong.

President Trump does bring out the base—and he can rightly claim credit for helping to swing Senate races in Indiana and Missouri, as well as Ron DeSantis's gubernatorial victory in Florida. But Trump is also uniquely offputting to suburban voters, and flat-out hated among urban voters (Democratic support outweighed Republican support in urban areas by 33 points). Rural voters find Trump brash and entertaining (13 point advantage to Trump); suburban voters find him chaotic and disturbing.

Republicans got swamped in the suburbs from Virginia to Pennsylvania to Georgia. In 2016, President Trump won the suburban vote 50 percent to 45 percent. But in 2018, voters split at 49 percent between Republicans and Democrats, which gave urban populations outsized weights. As Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute explained, "Democrats are starting to show significant strength in the less dense suburbs."

But Trump's unpopularity in suburbia is counteracted by radical progressives' unpopularity as well. As Ella Nilsen of reported, "2018 was not the year of the winning progressive Democrat…Many of the left-wing candidates who tested the theory of turning out their base, even in more conservative districts, lost on election night."

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrives for a rally at Spooky Nook Sports center in Manheim, Pennsylvania on October 1, 2016. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

All of which means that both sides are making a rather large mistake focusing only on their base. Suburbia is in play in 2020, and that means that Republicans must stop relying on the polarizing tactics of President Trump, and Democrats must stop believing that Bernie Sanders Leftism is a path to victory.

Whichever party realizes this first will dominate in 2020. Right now, the advantage lies with Democrats, who have the advantage of being able to choose their own candidate in 2020. But Democrats do have a structural problem in 2020, too: their base wants hard-core progressives, and the Democratic National Committee demoted the role of superdelegates in July, thus leaving the fate of the party's nomination in the hands of the grassroots. And the media have a rather large stake in stoking the progressive Left's confidence, particularly during a two-year period in which investigatory power will grant the Left a large confidence boost.

Here's what the American people wanted in 2018: the madness to end. They didn't want Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez applied nationally, and they don't want Trumpist affect to dominate the proceedings. They want moderate to conservative policy, hard-nosed by non-chaotic politics, and a general commitment to take a deep breath.

Sadly, that's unlikely to be what the American people will get.

Ben Shapiro is editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire and host of The Ben Shapiro Show, available on iTunes and syndicated across America.​

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​​