Thu. May 23rd, 2024

How one Democrat is trying to maintain Trump country appeal: From the Politics Desk

By 37ci3 Apr17,2024

Welcome to the online version of From the policy deskevening bulletin that brings you the latest reporting and analysis from the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill from the NBC News Politics team.

In today’s edition, Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin posts campaign reports on rural Wisconsin, where she faces a challenge to run alongside Donald Trump on the ballot. Plus, senior political analyst Chuck Todd explains why Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is attracting interest from voters.

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Tammy Baldwin is struggling to maintain traction in Trump country Wisconsin

By Sarah Dean

REEDSBURG, Wis. – Dairyman Randy Roecker is at breaking point – and he partly blames President Joe Biden, so he plans to vote for Donald Trump for a third term this November.

“Farmers are suffering like you wouldn’t believe, and I’m suffering enough to throw up my hands and say I’m done,” said Roecker, who said inflation has strained his business over the past two years.

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But while he plans to vote to impeach the Democratic president, Roecker also plans to vote to retain Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

“I always support him. I mean, no question,” Roecker said. “And everybody I know — farmers — everybody says it’s great for Wisconsin agriculture.”

Baldwin is bracing for a tight re-election race against likely Republican candidate Eric Hovde, a multi-millionaire banker, in evenly divided Wisconsin, one of several states that will determine which party controls the Senate. But he has an incumbency advantage and often outperforms other state Democrats in rural areas, even as the party as a whole has lost significant ground in those areas in recent decades.

Baldwin is putting more effort into rural campaigning this year as he prepares for the challenge of sharing the ballot with one of the forces driving GOP margins in highly rural areas. Unlike his first two races for the Senate in 2012 and 2018, Donald Trump will run again this November.

Late last month, Baldwin sat down around the kitchen table with Roecker and others from the Farmer Angel Network for a 90-minute discussion about farmer mental health. The event was part of the senator’s 19-state “Dairyland” tour, none of which were among Wisconsin’s five most populous states.

“I think there was a real opportunity for me to champion issues that I wouldn’t hear about if I just went to the population centers of the state,” Baldwin told reporters in the parking lot at New Glarus Brewing Co. .

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Why not reduce voters’ interest in RFK Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. attends a Cesar Chavez Day event at Union Station on March 30, 2024 in Los Angeles
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.Mario Tama/Getty Images

Analysis by Chuck Todd

What happens when a voter wants change, but there is no obvious change candidate on the ballot?

This question came to mind after attending one of the fascinating monthly focus groups hosted by Rich Thau, president of research group Engagious. With the latest edition gathering Pennsylvania voters once voted for Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton, and once for Donald Trump.

It was the surprising level of interest in Robert F. Kennedy Jr. among swing voters that grabbed the headlines for this month’s registration. In some ways, this should come as no surprise. These voters are not strictly partisan by definition and are not satisfied with either major party, having been comfortable voting against both in the last two elections.

As I wrote months ago, would be the moment in this campaign period when both major parties ended their nominating processes and chose Biden and Trump — and yet the public was not happy with the outcome. We are in that moment.

Since there is no major third-party alternative yet, this void is being filled by Kennedy. For many voters, we can say that he is just a famous name that fills a void. You can hear the ignorance of many of these Pennsylvania voters about Kennedy beyond his name, and those who knew anything about him knew only a few things. Moreover, it was clear that his best asset was that his last name was neither Trump nor Biden.

Tracking the initial interest in Kennedy’s candidacy among these voters is a reminder that there was a strong opportunity for a true potential unity ticket—not “centrist” per se, but one that promised a four-year partisan break. try to focus on hard choices to solve hard problems like immigration.

But given the stakes of this election, it’s clear to me that even with a true middle-of-the-road opening, or with a less partisan crowd, the lane is too narrow. Unless the partisans of one or both parties also wanted an alternative, there really was no path to victory.

But there is a path to relevance.

Read more from Chuck →

🗞️ The best stories of the day

  • ⚖️ Open and close: The Democratic-controlled Senate rejected House Republicans’ impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas after just three hours of debate. More →
  • 🙅 Blocked again: For the second time in two weeks, Arizona Republican lawmakers have overturned a Democratic-led effort to overturn an abortion ban upheld by the state Supreme Court. More →
  • 🧾 Johnson’s next move: House Speaker Mike Johnson unveiled three aid bills for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan in hopes of a final vote on Saturday. More →
  • 📺 Speaker’s Revenge: An outside group with ties to an ally of Kevin McCarthy has released new ads targeting the three House Republicans who voted to oust him as speaker. More →
  • 💰 Sharing is caring: Trump’s campaign is asking Republicans who use his name, image or likeness to raise funds to send a portion of the money to the GOP candidate’s coffers. More →
  • 🗓️ No holidays: Trump’s silent money trial did not take place today, but that didn’t stop the former president from complaining about the jury selection process. More →
  • 3️⃣ The trifecta is protected again: Democrats won two special state House elections in battleground Michigan on Tuesday, regaining control not just of the chamber but of all of state government. More →

For now, that’s it from The Politics Desk. If you have feedback – like it or not – send us an email

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