Why Trump's newfound interest in California matters

Trump's new fixation on California suggests one thing: he's received some bad polling news and is desperately looking for a new path to 270 electoral votes
Image: The sun sets beyond the Los Angeles skyline
FILE - This Jan. 21, 2011 file photo, the sun sets beyond the Los Angeles skyline, as seen from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The relocation of tech companies to southern California is part of a growing movement of U.S. cities seeking to duplicate the formula that turned northern California’s Silicon Valley, slightly south of San Francisco, into a mecca of society-shifting innovation and immense wealth. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)Mark J. Terrill / AP, file

As Election Day nears, common sense suggests Donald Trump's interest should be on swing states and competitive 2020 battlegrounds. But the president instead seems fixated on a Democratic stronghold.

Trump ... took aim at some states governed by Democrats, suggesting their condition was another reason to vote for him. "California is going to hell. Vote Trump!" Trump said in one tweet.

The logic behind the message seems flawed: California is going to hell in the Trump era, which is why the Republican incumbent believes voters should extend the Trump era?

Nevertheless, if the missive seemed familiar, there's a good reason for that. Yesterday, Trump implored Californians to vote for him. A few days earlier, he pushed the same message. And then he pushed it again.

The president told Rush Limbaugh on Friday that he expects to do well in the Golden State. He also talked up California during an interview with Fox Business, and then again with Fox News.

In case this isn't obvious, it's worth emphasizing that Trump lost California four years ago by 30 points. FiveThirtyEight's model gives Joe Biden a greater than 99% chance of carrying the state in this year's cycle.

So why in the world is the president suddenly fixated on California, bringing it up practically every day for the last five days? From a distance, it's hard to say with confidence, but if I were an incumbent, my team just showed me some bad polling news, and I started to become convinced that I'm on track to lose badly unless I found a new path to 270 electoral votes, I might start looking anew at the nation's largest electoral prize.