MADISON, WI – Voters in Swing State have to put up with a lot even during the most unbalanced presidential campaigns. The airwaves were inundated with campaign announcements. Patrons are swarmed with domestic reporters looking for the perfect undecided white man. And a deluge of phone calls from pollsters and pranksters.
But it’s 2020, so Wisconsin voters also face unchecked coronavirus outbreaks after months of bitter fighting between state GOP leaders and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers over the most insignificant of protection mandates. public health.
With the presidential election days away, former Vice President Joe Biden holds a small lead over President Donald Trump in a state the president won by just over 20,000 votes in 2016. And conversations with the voters and local political watchers suggest anger at Trump. the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is fueling this slim advantage.
“COVID has had a huge impact here in Wisconsin and the county I live in. I just bought a farm and I’m struggling to feed my animals and keep the farm in good condition,” Teri Leschner said , 50, from Sharon, WI. Daily Beast.
Leschner was one of many voters who told the Daily Beast that they voted for Trump in 2016 but couldn’t support him this time around – in large part because of the pandemic and the resulting economic collapse. “I think Trump lied to us all,” she said. “He said he cared about small family farmers, but we didn’t see any help or compassion.”
Dusty Hartl of West Allis, 24, told the Daily Beast that despite his support for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary, he voted for Trump in 2016 because he felt Trump was the “only candidate to fail. not preach business as usual ”. He also said his parents and extended family voted for Trump. “It was a safer option,” he says.
Residents have had much more than four years to bear the brunt of what beleaguered Democrats in the state have long described as an iron-fisted minority government and a government based on spite. After Scott Walker was elected governor in 2010, he and his allies in the State Senate and Assembly tweaked tactics that Trump and national Republican leaders say will lead them to yet another victory in the state. . Walker and the GOP have reduced early voting deadlines, lengthened residency requirements and added voter identification requirements, a strategy echoed by Trump’s rhetoric and legal challenges this year.
But Wisconsin Republicans also passed a series of laws during a lame duck session of 2018 that stripped Governor Evers of many of his executive powers, which, with discontent over the president’s response to the level. national, seems to generate negative reactions in a state of crisis. Once again this week, the Wisconsin Badgers had to cancel their football game against Nebraska due to a COVID-19 outbreak that affected the team’s quarterback and head coach. And based on current case numbers, the state will run out of intensive care beds and the nurses needed to staff them in as little as two weeks.
“About 3/4 of the Obama-Trump voters we interviewed in the Upper Midwest for the Swing Voter Project will stay with President Trump,” Rich Thau, chairman of Engagious and moderator of the Swing Voter Project, a group that lays it down. conducting monthly focus groups in key states, told The Daily Beast in an email. “Of the remaining 1/4 who will choose Biden, most do so on the basis of dissatisfaction with the president’s handling of the pandemic, not a particular fondness for Biden himself.
Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by just 22,748 votes, less than a percentage point.
It’s no exaggeration to say that a Wisconsin winter without normal family reunions, school, hunting and ice fishing, and stereotypical fare like tailgating parties at Lambeau Field is going to suck up much of what makes them long. months of bearable freezing temperatures and darkness. On October 5, the Evers government announced $ 47 million in funding under the CARES Act for assistance programs, but that will not be enough to meet existing needs. Without additional stimulus funding from the federal government, low-income residents will struggle to afford heat, food and health care, and small businesses are unlikely to survive the winter.
Leschner, who has cultivated for 20 years, is worried about how she will survive. “I will not lose my farm, but it will put me in serious debt by borrowing money from friends. They keep playing with that stimulus, and it’s playing in our minds, ”she said.
Among the many other reasons voters should be wary of Trump this year: the debacle of Taiwanese electronics maker Foxconn receiving billions of dollars in tax subsidies to build a factory in Mount Pleasant, WI, in exchange for 13,000 alleged jobs and an economic windfall for the State. Trump attended the plant’s inauguration in 2018, where he called it “the eighth wonder of the world.” Foxconn founder Terry Gou said he remains committed to the plan to settle in Wisconsin, but dozens of homes have been destroyed, millions of dollars have been spent to acquire land and build roads and infrastructure, and no one can say with clarity what the investment business might ultimately look like.
Trump is not the only one to be blamed for the staggering number of new COVID-19 cases in the state. A review of WisPolitics.com, a news site dedicated to state politics, named the Wisconsin legislature as America’s least active full-time body at the beginning of October, and didn’t has not passed a bill since April, essentially throughout the duration of the pandemic. . But Republican legislative leaders Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald had time to support legal challenges to keeping the Evers government at home, to hide mandates and limits on public gatherings. The most recent Marquette Law School poll found 50% of residents disapproved of the way the state legislature did its job, while only 36% approved, a 10% lag since May.
“In Wisconsin, there may be a reverse ponytail effect: People who are unhappy with the refusal of the Republican-dominated state legislature to support strict health measures may be urged to turn around against Trump because the legislature has brought its rhetoric as real politics back to the ground, ”Howard Schweber, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told The Daily Beast. .
For her part, Leschner said “state government was a huge factor” for her. Likewise, Hartl said Trump’s attitude toward the pandemic – a GOP takeover of the state – frustrated him and left him scared for vulnerable members of his Republican family in the state.
“Why isn’t my 70-year-old grandmother following science?” He asked.
At the end of the day, there are simply far fewer undecided voters than in the past. More than 1.5 million people have already voted in Wisconsin in person and by absent ballot, roughly half of the state’s total votes in 2016.
Hartl told the Daily Beast “it was obvious” to change his vote this election. He only managed to convince one member of his family, his paternal grandmother, to switch from Trump to Biden, but he is proud of his success.
“Now she yells at him every time she sees him on TV,” he says.
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