After two stops in southern Wisconsin over the last two weekends, President Donald Trump takes his reelection campaign to western Wisconsin Tuesday afternoon. He's scheduled to speak in West Salem, near La Crosse.
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse political scientist Anthony Chergosky says the western part of the state remains politically independent and potentially up for grabs.
"That's pretty rare in this era of hyper-partisanship and polarization. And, voters who are open to changing their minds from election to election. Voters who are not tightly associated with one party or the other,” Chergosky told WUWM.
Chergosky says it's hard to pin down the reason for the voter independence. His theory is the area has diversity in age, education level and profession.
"And I think that carries over to the politics of this region, where it's unpredictable and it's very much in flux,” Chergosky said.
Trump will be speaking at a rally at a motor speedway. But Chergosky says that doesn't necessarily mean the president is pursuing Wisconsin's version of the so-called NASCAR vote — meaning white, usually middle-aged, blue-collar men. Instead, Chergosky says local officials had previously blocked Trump from holding a rally at the La Crosse airport during the state's COVID-19 surge, and another venue was needed.
Just in case Tuesday’s event is a pitch for NASCAR voters, Darin Von Ruden of the Wisconsin Farmers Union says that demographic is more diverse than some people think.
"There's a lot of folks in the racing industry who are Democrats, too,” Von Ruden said. He added that the real issue of the campaign is COVID-19, “We gotta figure out how to control the virus, not continue to spread it."
Von Ruden and other speakers on a Wisconsin Democratic Party media call Monday repeatedly criticized Trump's handling of the pandemic, and for the president holding large rallies without requiring people to wear masks.