Then-candidate Donald Trump holds cousins Evelyn Kate Keane, 6 months, and Kellen Campbell, 3 months, on July 29, 2016, in Colorado Springs. (Stacie Scott/Gazette via AP)

Shortly before the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump’s communications adviser Jason Miller proclaimed that both Michigan and New Mexico were in play. In both states, Miller said, internal polls showed a “dead heat,” and he predicted that campaigning in both places would spike.

In Michigan, of course, that prediction was borne out. Trump won the state by the skin of his teeth, 11,000 votes. In New Mexico, though, he got blown out, losing by eight percentage points.

This story seems pertinent now because of another prediction by another Trump campaign staff member focused on a different election. According to Axios, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, is targeting two other blue states for victory in the next election: Minnesota and Colorado. As with Michigan and New Mexico, one of those seems more likely than the other to go in Trump’s favor.

In considering Parscale’s targeting, let’s look at how Trump got to the White House. In particular, let’s compare two states central to Trump’s victory — Wisconsin and the aforementioned Michigan — with Colorado and Minnesota.

All four states were trending back to the Republicans after voting heavily for Barack Obama in 2008. Michigan and Wisconsin got over that middle line separating a Republican win from a Democratic one. Minnesota got close; Colorado, less so.

But that’s not a great way to look at things. After all, there are national trends at play that influence individual states. That’s obvious when we overlay the national trend on the chart above.

If we factor out the national shifts, we can get a different sense for how the states voted in 2016, relative to

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