Earlier this summer, Hawaii was a Covid success story. Now it is one of the worst performing states in the nation. Alice Miranda Ollstein from POLITICO explains why the rapid dissolution of the state is a warning story.
“It’s getting tighter,” said Ken Martin, leader of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party. “But I wouldn’t swap positions for hers in a million years.”
In the run-up to the 201
After the election, Trump said he regretted not doing more. The state’s 10 electoral votes – the same number as in neighboring Wisconsin – became a constant source of infatuation for him.
Four years later, he’s still busy with his near miss.
“Another speech, I would have won,” Trump recently told a crowd in Mankato, a small university town in southern Minnesota. “It was so close.”
This time around, his campaign brought workers into the state and created an operational footprint that the Democrats recently dwarfed. He reserved millions of dollars in television time for a fall ad blitz and used protests after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis – the state’s liberal stronghold – as a springboard for his broader campaign for law and order.
Jeff Johnson, the Republican who defeated former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty in the 2018 gubernatorial primary before losing to Democrat Tim Walz in the general election, said: “It seems almost personal to him that he got close and they didn’t do a tremendous effort in Minnesota [in 2016]. ”
That year he said: “No question about it, he has a chance to win.”
If Trump has a way forward in Minnesota, it will likely be based on an improvement in the suburbs of the Twin Cities coupled with an increasing turnout in rural areas of the state. It’s a big job, but there is cause for concern for the Democrats. According to the party’s own estimates, there are 250,000 white men without a college degree in Minnesota who are eligible to vote but not registered, a rich target for Trump.
Trump might find some of those voters in the rural western areas of the state; Trump won every county west of Minneapolis’ Hennepin County. But its greater opportunity for growth appears to be in northeast Minnesota, in and around the Blue Collar, Ancestrally Democratic Iron Range.
The region has been targeted for additional attention. Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, visited Duluth Pack, a bag and packaging company, in July. The appearance sparked resentment in the democratically difficult Duluth, and some customers cut stains out of their pockets in protest.
Last week, Eveleth Mayor Robert Vlaisavljevich, who described himself as a lifelong Democrat, spoke on behalf of Trump to the Republican National Committee. Scott Dane, executive director of Associated Contract Loggers and Truckers of Minnesota, did the same. And on Friday, the day after the conclusion of the Republican National Convention, Vice President Mike Pence Duluth visited the most populous city in northern Minnesota.
Flanked by shipping containers with banners saying “Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! “Pence said,” The road to victory begins in Duluth, Minnesota and we will win this state on November 3rd. “
Much of the Trump campaign’s efforts in northeast Minnesota are focused on mining and its economic impact in the region. On phone calls and door-to-door campaigns, Trump recruits criticize Biden’s refusal to take a stand on a controversial proposal to replace a crude oil pipeline in the state and a plan to build a copper-nickel mine on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
But there are also cultural problems at work. Following Floyd’s death and the ensuing protests, Larry Cuffe Jr., a former Democrat and mayor of small town Virginia, said he posted a sign on his lawn that read “Support Law Enforcement and First Responders”. The concentration of population growth in Minnesota in and around the more advanced metropolitan area of Twin Cities has created friction between urban Democrats and their overseas counterparts in recent years.
“It’s about all the violence in Minneapolis and the lack of police support in the metropolitan area,” said Cuffe, one of several Iron Range mayors who supported Trump.
On issues such as mining, gun control and criminal justice, Cuffe said, “The democratic platform has moved ever further to the left, and the Democrats I grew up with have been abandoned. … What we stand for and I have been a former Democrat for many years, we stand for our flag and we are proud Americans and we kneel to pray. “
Democrats have organized themselves aggressively in the state, including in northeast Minnesota. The DFL broke donation records last year, and in the days since the Democratic National Convention alone, the Biden campaign in Minnesota has hosted almost 50 virtual organization events.
The two ads that Biden will air today in Minnesota focus on the economy and the coronavirus. And work organizers and democratic strategists believe that on the iron chain and elsewhere, the health and economic rubble from the pandemic is likely to bring Trump below the levels he hit in 2016.
“I think voters will remember they are no better now than they were four years ago,” said Ron Harris, chairman of the Democratic National Committee’s Midwest Caucus.
Even Republicans acknowledge that Trump is facing headwinds and losing support in the suburbs and among women in Minnesota, as he has done nationally. Biden is a less polarizing candidate than Hillary Clinton, who received almost 180,000 fewer votes than President Barack Obama in Minnesota in 2012. And the turnout in the state are historical Minnesota is among the highest in the nation and is less prone to low-turnout elections that Trump could benefit from.
Michael Brodkorb, a former Minnesota Republican Party vice chairman, said Trump’s campaign was likely “a misjudgment of why the race ended in 16, and I don’t think there is any need to extrapolate it now”.
In 2016 he said: “There were a lot of frustrated Democrats who decided to sit at home.”
In fact, Trump’s memory of a close finish in 2016 doesn’t explain the lessons of the statewide election two years later, when Walz defeated Johnson by nearly 300,000 votes.
That year, the Democrats reclaimed 10 of the 19 counties that moved from Obama to Trump in 2016. And the distribution of votes brought threatening signs for Trump. In and around Minneapolis-St. Paul, Walz rated the Democratic vote so highly that Johnson was nowhere near making up for it in rural Minnesota.
For Trump, Rick Kahn, who advised Walz and was a longtime friend and campaign treasurer of the late Senator Paul Wellstone, said, “It’s not in math.”
“When you look at the math,” he said, “the voices just aren’t there.”