Biden wins Wisconsin

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Joe Biden has defeated President Donald Trump in Wisconsin, flipping the crucial battleground state and its 10 electoral votes back into the Democratic column.

Trump’s victory in the state four years ago was perhaps the most surprising outcome of the 2016 election. No Republican had carried Wisconsin since 1984, and Hillary Clinton didn’t visit the state once during the general election.

Democrats turned their focus to winning it back soon after Trump took office. They awarded their national party convention to Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s largest city. The party also mounted an all-out effort to turn the tide in the 2018 midterms, ousting its longtime nemesis, GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

But 2020 got off to a rocky start. As the coronavirus crisis hit, the convention was first postponed and then largely moved out of Milwaukee, with much of the program emanating from a Los Angeles TV studio or from Wilmington, Del., where Biden and running mate Kamala Harris delivered their acceptance speeches.

Also, in August, the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was wounded by police in Kenosha, Wis., reignited the summer-long national reckoning over racial injustice and police misconduct. Following Blake’s death, the Milwaukee Bucks pro basketball team refused to take the court for a playoff game, a protest that led to the cancellation of that game and others across professional sports.

The shooting of Blake, which is still under investigation, led to widespread protests, vandalism and some violence. During the protests, two participants were shot and killed by a 17-year-old from Illinois, Kyle Rittenhouse, who was charged with murder.

Both Biden and Trump visited Kenosha in the days after the most intense protests had subsided. Trump’s campaign made the unrest in Kenosha part of his campaign message, pledging to restore order and slamming Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who unseated Walker in 2018, for allowing the protests.

Trump, at the White House in September, also appeared to defend Rittenhouse, whose attorneys say he acted in self-defense in shooting the protesters.

“He was trying to get away from them,” Trump said on Sept. 1. “I guess it looks like he fell, and then they very violently attacked him. And it was something that we’re looking at right now, and it’s under investigation. But I guess he was in very big trouble. He would have been — probably would have been killed, but it’s under investigation."

But a late October Marquette Law School poll showed voters gave Evers higher marks than Trump, and 54 percent of likely voters disapproved of the way Trump has handled protests this year.

The election took place amid rising coronavirus cases in the state, another millstone around Trump’s candidacy. In that same Marquette Law School poll, just 40 percent of voters said they approved of how Trump was handling the pandemic, while a majority, 59 percent, disapproved.

Unlike some of the other Great Lakes states Trump won in 2016, Wisconsin has a smaller Black population, and its suburbs have remained more reliably Republican. But there were signs throughout the year that Biden made some inroads in the so-called “WOW” counties that encircle Milwaukee: Washington, Ozaukee and Waukesha.

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