Trump 270 path narrows, Wisconsin mirrors swing state plight

President Donald Trump throws a hat to the crowd after speaking at a campaign rally at the Central Wisconsin Airport Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Mosinee, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
President Donald Trump throws a hat to the crowd after speaking at a campaign rally at the Central Wisconsin Airport Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Mosinee, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

MEDFORD, Wis. – President Donald Trump's once-comfortable advantage in the pivotal region of Wisconsin around the blue-collar hub of Green Bay has dwindled. In suburban Milwaukee, long a Republican-dominated area, it has thinned as well.

And his supporters are far from confident he can find thousands of new voters in the state's sparsely populated rural areas to make up for the setbacks.

Trump's path to victory in Wisconsin, a state he won narrowly in 2016, has become increasingly complicated, and so has his path to the 270 electoral votes needed for his reelection.

“It’s challenging. There are far more states in play in 2020 than there were in 2016,” said Whit Ayers, a veteran Republican pollster. “And they include states Trump won by a significant margin like Arizona, Iowa, Ohio and Georgia.”

Few states are as important to the president's prospects as Wisconsin, which he carried by less than 23,000 votes out of nearly 3 million cast in 2016 and which had not voted for a Republican for president in more than a generation.

But even Trump's supporters concede the hill is steep given the declines they are seeing. “Can Republicans and Trump offset that? That’s the big question, and I don’t have a strong answer,” said Jim Miller, the Republican chairman of Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District, which covers the state’s northernmost 26 counties.

A similar narrative is playing out in other Midwestern states, and in Pennsylvania, with local officials sounding alarms about Trump's prospects. He must make up significant ground in these states in the campaign's final four weeks to replicate his 2016 upset and defeat Democrat Joe Biden.

Trump is stressing his nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and his call for law and order in response to demonstrations over racial injustice, which aides say are winning Wisconsin issues.