Politics 'The new Ohio': Wisconsin could decide Trump vs. Biden
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Republican strategist Brad Todd likes to say that “Ohio is the new Missouri, and Wisconsin is the new Ohio”how central to winning the White House the Badger State has become since President Trump captured the Midwestern battleground four years ago.
Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin by a slim 0.7 percentage points, becoming the first Republican to collect the state’s 10 Electoral College votes since Ronald Reagan in 1984. In doing so, the president established Wisconsin as a crucial swing state that demands the constant care of Democratic and Republican contenders alike.
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Trump is in a tough re-election battle with national polls showing him lagging behind Biden as Nov. 3 quickly approaches. Their first debate is slated for Sept. 29 in Cleveland on Fox News.The president fired up his hundreds of supporters that gathered at an airport hangar in Mosinee, which is a country he won in 2016. Trump's campaign is focusing on turning out base supporters in more rural parts of the state in order to offset deficits he is expected to face against Biden in cities and suburbs.Few attendees wore face masks and supporters stood elbow-to-elbow, making no effort to social distance.
And so, Wisconsin is receiving the kind of attention from Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, in the form of campaign visits and advertising, that, in past years, was reserved for now GOP-leaning Ohio — and before that, bellwether-turned-ruby-red Missouri. That dynamic was apparent even before the controversial shooting of a black man by a white police officer sparked days of civil unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and roiled the presidential race.
Less than six weeks to Election Day, the contest is a dogfight. Trump trails Biden but is within striking distance. With no other contests at the top of Wisconsin's ticket, the race is all about Trump, a dynamic that can work for and against the president.
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Nearly 86% of Wisconsin residents are white, while just over 6% black, and whites dominate both the state’s rural communities and the suburban Milwaukee “WOW" counties of Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington. Those demographics make Wisconsin hospitable territory for Trump, who has performed even better with white voters, per capita, than other recent Republican presidential nominees.
But Wisconsin voters are used to disagreeing civilly, making them ill-suited for Trump, a politician inclined toward provocative rhetoric and political combat. In the 2018 midterm elections, that odd pairing resulted in a backlash against Trump that saw Democrats take back the governor’s mansion and defend a Senate seat.
If Biden continues to perform better with white voters than did Clinton, that, combined with the state’s robust and engaged Democratic electorate, could spell trouble for the president.
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