In battleground Wisconsin, turnout is key: “My vote’s up for grabs”

FAN Editor

The battleground state of Wisconsin was ordered to remove more than 200,000 people from its voter registration lists. A judge said they may have moved, but Democrats fear this will unfairly affect votes.

One reason it flipped red in 2016 is because of low turnout, despite a strong turnout for Barack Obama.

President Donald Trump won the state in 2016 by fewer than 23,000 votes, partly because of his surprise victory in Racine County. President Obama won the county in 2008 and 2012.

Turnout among black Wisconsinites fell nearly 19% between the 2012 and 2016 elections.

Racine Democrat Corey Prince with the NAACP said voters didn’t turn out for Hillary Clinton because of a “lack of organizing.”

“Black people have realized … our vote is being taken for granted,” he told CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz.

“There’s a democratic America that looks at Donald Trump as like he’s the worst thing ever,” Prince said. “Black people are kind of like ‘yawn, you know, I’ve seen worse’ … We see Donald when we go to the bank and ask for a loan, we see Donald when we get pulled over … and so Donald ain’t that bad to us. He’s not the worst. We would love to get behind something better. Give us that picture, give us the picture of something better, don’t talk about what’s so bad.”

Asked what issues he cares most about in this election, Lorenzo Santos with the Young Democrats said climate change. 

“If climate change is not handled, it’s affecting our agriculture, which is a major source of economy in the Midwest,” he said. 

Racine sits on Lake Michigan, but west of the left-leaning city, in the suburbs like Mount Pleasant, voters tend to be older, more conservative, and more likely to vote. In 2016, city turnout was just under 52%. Out in the suburbs, it was 70%.

At a country club, several people were playing the Chinese game of mahjong, and most didn’t want to talk politics, but life-long Republican Mary Patterson shared what issues she cares most about.

“Immigration is very important to me. I would like to see something done with health care,” she said. “And also foreign policy.”

Asked what she thought about Mr. Trump’s decision to order the recent drone strike that killed a top Iranian genera, Patterson said she thinks it was the right thing to do. 

“Iran is going to back off, and with this president they know he won’t hesitate,” she said. 

Further west, in Burlington, it seemed like the whole town showed up for an open mic night.

Stefanie Cimoli, a military wife, said she has traditionally voted Republican. “But I need to just get a better grasp on what the candidates have to offer and what I feel is important to me,” she said. “My vote’s up for grabs.” 

Cimoli said she voted for Clinton in 2016. “I might get some flak,” she said, looking at the friends she was with.

“I just try to vote my heart, vote my conscience. What I feel is best for my family, best for the country,” she said.

Both parties have their sights set on these voters. Mr. Trump has his rally in nearby Milwaukee Tuesday night. And the Democrats are holding their national convention this summer in Milwaukee.

Wisconsin’s primary is April 7.

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