Politico's Bloomberg knocks Trump back on his heels in Florida includes:

“It’s forced the Trump campaign to retrench in Florida. You can see it in the spending habits, in television and digital. They’re investing more at the expense of places they need to win,” said Steve Schale, who leads the pro-Biden Unite the Country super PAC.

“Basically, Trump has now been committed to the equivalent of land war in Asia by having to spend so much of his money in Florida, a state he has to win to get to 270 Electoral College votes,” Schale said. “And as a result, he doesn’t have the resources to compete everywhere he would like.”

Explanations for what "a land war in Asia" can mean are found in answers to Meaning of “Never get involved in a land war in Asia” in The Princess Bride?

Question: But how does the analogy apply to the 2020 US presidential campaigns? Is it simply that resources are spread thinly and whomever can spend the most wins? Or is there more here in this analogy about strategy and/or tactics?

  • 2
    I always assumed this was a reference to Risk, as Asia's slow to conquer due to being large, and hard to hold onto because there are so many points of access to it. Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 10:19

1 Answer 1


The "land war in Asia" is a reference to the German invasion of Russia in World War II, and the French invasion of Russia during the Napoleonic Wars, and the Japanese invasion of China during World War II, and the American invasion of Vietnam, and the British invasions of Afghanistan during the 1800s, and...

Asia is a sinkhole for invaders. What all those conflicts had in common was that the invader had to keep dumping more and more resources into the fight just to maintain the status quo, or try to press on with existing resources and lose.

By analogy, Florida is a sinkhole for the Trump campaign. Trump needs to keep dumping resources into Florida just to keep from losing ground, and he can't use those resources to make gains elsewhere.

  • 1
    Arguably, neither Napoleon (who only made it to Moscow) nor Hitler (who at least reached the Volga and the Caucasus) actually made it into Asia. On the other hand, I believe that Japanese presence in China was not all that relevant to their eventual losing WWII; I would point to the Pacific as the principal factor.
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 7:46
  • @Mark, "Land War in Asia" really are references to Vietnam and Korea. Wars that went on forever with no end in site. The expression predates the Second Gulf War and Afghanistan. Other than that I agree with the rest of your answer.
    – user20338
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 17:26
  • 2
    @JMS, I'm referring to the British invasions of Afghanistan during the colonial era, and in particular, the 1839 invasion, which was an unmitigated disaster. Afghanistan's reputation as "the graveyard of empires" long pre-dates the current mess.
    – Mark
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 19:49
  • You can also count the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which was contemporary to PB
    – Caleth
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 8:42

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .