With just a week to go before the election, Wisconsin is getting a lot of attention from the presidential campaigns.
Republican nominee Donald Trump will be in Eau Claire tonight, while Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine is scheduled to appear in Appleton and Madison. Both candidates also have surrogates in the state this week, and Trump’s campaign says he plans to be here one more time before Election Day – although a location has not yet been announced.
University of Wisconsin Madison journalism professor Mike Wagner says the heavy focus of the presidential campaigns is a sure sign they see the state as in play his November. “Wisconsin is home to a fairly tight presidential race and a fairly tight senate race, and so both parties want to make sure they turn out all their voters,” he says.
National campaigns are also spending millions of dollars on last-minute advertising in the state – much of it focused on the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and Democratic challenger Russ Feingold. Wagner says the state is a key battleground for Democrats looking to flip control of the Senate, so he expects that focus to continue in the remaining week of the campaign.
Clinton absent from Wisconsin
While the Trump campaign is making a pretty clear move on the state, Clinton herself has not yet made an appearance in Wisconsin during the general election. The last time she campaigned here was before the presidential primary in April – which she lost to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Wagner says he does not expect Clinton to make a personal appearance here before Election Day, since her campaign appears to be more focused on states where there’s a tighter margin between her and Trump. “The fact that she hasn’t come here suggests she’s confident in the numbers that she’s seeing,” he argues.
Wagner called it a “rarity” for a major party presidential candidate to skip the state entirely during the general election. If she does end up stopping in the state before next Tuesday, he expects it will be during a swing through other key Midwestern states, such as Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio. While he believes it may “sting” a little for some Democrats not to see their candidate stop here before the election, he expects most will understand the importance of Clinton focusing on states where there’s a tighter margin.
Recent polling has shown Clinton consistency holding a lead over Trump among likely voters in the state. A Marquette University Law School Poll due to be released Wednesday afternoon should provide a look at whether she’s been able to maintain that advantage here.