Trump looking to lock up more rural voters
Corey Bauch is eager to explain why he regrets not voting for Donald Trump.

The 44-year old-agreed to meet with me last week in this rural Wisconsin town (population of 1,500), where he has lived most of his life. As we talked, horse-drawn buggies from the local Amish community rolled past a small outpost of stores, on their way to nearby farms.

The libertarian Bauch was one of the few in rural Wisconsin who didn’t support Trump in 2016, saying he reminded him of an arrogant boss. But after the election, he began to see the president’s outspoken style as an antidote to Washington’s pervasive corruption.
He plans to vote for Trump next year.

Trump can win reelection in a number of ways: He could win back moderates in the suburbs, make inroads with black and Hispanic men or persuade white working-class women not to abandon him. He could also reassemble, almost to the voter, the razor-thin but winning coalition he built in 2016.

But perhaps the most likely way the president can win next November — and the way Republicans are already preparing in earnest for him to pursue — is with voters like Bauch, in rural regions of key battleground states, who didn’t back Trump in 2016 but are inclined to do so now.

“Are there more low propensity rural voters to add? Is there more meat on the bone?” said Mike Shields, a former chief of staff at the Republican National Committee. “The answer is yes. And the data backs it up.”

When Trump won in 2016, he did so by delivering shock landslide in rural America. But rather than see his breakthrough as a high-water mark, the GOP wants more. And although it won’t be easy, Republicans insist — and Democrats privately agree — Trump can get there in places like rural Wisconsin.

Democrats are taking the threat seriously. It’s why various arms of the party, even before the party selects a nominee, have launched their own counter-effort in states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida — dead-set on running the kind of effective campaign in these places they say was missing during the last presidential election.

And although it’s terrain where Trump has a distinct advantage, Republicans (often quietly) make one more point about his effort with rural voters: If Trump fails to increase his margins with rural voters, he likely loses reelection.
Jim Ryczek doesn’t like Trump, but he does marvel at how the president talks. The 71-year-old retiree had arrived at this bar in Mauston, a small town located an hour’s drive north of Madison, to talk politics and eat a lunch of pizza and cheese curds with a dozen fellow Democrats — many of whom sipped on Bloody Marys with beer chasers.

Soon the conversation turned the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS, and the bombastic way Trump had spoken of it just a few hours earlier. Ryzcek shook his head: If Barack Obama had announced al-Baghdadi’s death, he said, the former president would have emphasized its “geopolitical” implications.

The Democrats, he added, simply don’t know how to talk to their friends and neighbors — but Trump does.

“Trump just said, ‘He’s a bad son of a bitch, and we got him,’” Ryczek said, eliciting murmurs of agreement from the other Democrats.

Democrats readily acknowledge that even a well-crafted, perfectly executed strategy to win over rural voters will likely only reduce his support by a few percentage points. Trump’s connection with those voters, combined with a decades-long political realignment that has made Democrats increasingly suburban and urban, make any other outcome a near impossibility.
There is much more.

Democrats will have an uphill climb in rural America.  Their policies are in many cases hostile to those living in rural America from their hatred of fossil fuels to their attempt to get people to eat less red meat produced by farmers and ranchers.  There are no Tesla tractors and other farm equipment.


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