September 18, 2019

ALL THE BATTLEGROUNDS ARE RED:

Why it will be hard for Trump to win Wisconsin again: Milwaukee's Republican suburbs have never really warmed up to the president. That could be a big problem. (NATASHA KORECKI, 09/18/2019, Politico)

Clinton famously never made it to Wisconsin, where her failure to campaign is widely believed to have cost her a state that had not voted Republican for president since 1984 -- less than 23,000 votes ultimately decided the contest.

Democrats are determined not to make that tactical mistake again. The national party pointedly placed its nominating convention next summer in Milwaukee -- where a 19 percent drop in African American turnout doomed Clinton's chances in 2016.

Locally, the party is attempting to expand on Clinton's anemic performance in the WOW counties by tapping into a vein of anti-Trump sentiment that they say is palpable. Democrats have had teams on the ground organizing for months in the suburbs.

"I know if we get 40 percent we almost guarantee a Democrat a victory statewide," Waukesha County Democratic Party Chairman Matt Lowe said. "We're seeing so many volunteers every day that I don't think 40 percent is a total pipe dream."

The Democratic optimism is in part fueled by Trump's underwhelming 2016 performance in the WOW counties, where he lagged behind Mitt Romney's 2012 pace. Republicans there haven't entirely warmed to the president since then.

"It isn't that the Republican Party is withering away in the WOW counties; it was that they weren't particularly thrilled with Trump and they showed it by not voting for him," said Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School poll. "Trump still struggles to get more than 40 percent approval, even in the WOW counties. It really is an open question about whether Republicans have come back to him here."

Democratic hopes are also colored by last year's toppling of GOP Gov. Scott Walker and a Democratic sweep of every statewide office -- a humbling defeat for what was once one of the strongest state parties in the country.

The debacle was emblematic of the political havoc unleashed by the Trump era, which hastened the end of the one-time Wisconsin GOP power triumvirate of Walker, former House Speaker Paul Ryan and former Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

Other pillars of the old guard have also seen fit to leave the scene: Suburban Milwaukee Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the second longest-serving congressman in the nation and an early Trump skeptic, announced in early September he would not run for reelection. At the local level, activists and county chairs, including in Waukesha County, have also stepped aside.

Aaron Perry, a Waukesha alderman, said he grew so tired of Trump and accompanying GOP policies that in June he switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

"There comes a point where everybody has their own threshold of how much they can take," Perry said. "We're getting to the point now where there's no way he's gaining supporters. The only way for Trump to go is down."

Posted by at September 18, 2019 6:42 PM

  

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