Trump won Wisconsin after sharply lower Democratic turnout in 2016.
Hours before polling places open for Tuesday’s presidential election, US Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski urged people who haven’t yet voted to do so and change what they called the nation’s dangerous direction for the better.
During a get-out-the-vote stop in Eau Claire that followed Monday appearances in Green Bay and Wausau, the Democrats told media and a small audience that President Donald Trump has failed to protect the nation’s citizens from the coronavirus pandemic that has hindered the country’s economy and killed more than 231,000 in the US.
In Wisconsin, 232,296 positive COVID-19 cases have been reported by the state Department of Health Services, and 2,050 people have died from the virus. Those numbers have spiked in recent weeks as Wisconsin currently has the third-highest COVID-19 infection rate in the nation, behind only North and South Dakota.
“You need to vote like your life and your livelihood depend on it. Because they do,” Baldwin said.
Too many people failed to vote in 2016, Godlewski and Baldwin said, handing Trump a victory in Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes. The state’s turnout was its lowest for a presidential election in 20 years, and Trump became the first Republican to win Wisconsin since Ronald Reagan in 1984.
“Too many people stayed home last time,” Baldwin said. “We can’t let that happen again.”
Last week’s Marquette Law School Poll showed Trump’s Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, with a consistent 5-point lead, but that gap may be less than 1% given the polls 4.4% margin of error. Trump has appeared frequently in the state in recent weeks and was scheduled to be in Kenosha on Monday. Biden appeared in Milwaukee on Friday, the same day Trump was in Green Bay.
Trump has defended his handling of the coronavirus, making unsubstantiated claims that he has saved many lives by banning travelers arriving from China after learning of the virus. (In fact, an estimated 40,000 people arrived in the US from China in the two months after he announced travel restrictions.)
He said his administration has provided much needed funding to businesses, and he has pointed to record stock market gains as evidence of a strong economy during his presidency, even though only about half of the jobs lost in the early months of the pandemic have returned.
Baldwin criticized Trump for downplaying coronavirus concerns after he learned about it, endangering Americans in the process. He should have provided greater direction to businesses and schools about how to reopen safely but failed to do so, she said.
“Instead you had every school and jurisdiction coming up with their own plan to reopen,” Baldwin said. “There should have been more help from the federal government.”
Godlweski agreed, saying Trump’s attempts to overthrow the Affordable Care Act without a plan of his own would leave many without a way to afford health insurance. The president’s failure to contain COVID-19 has adversely impacted the economy and left many without jobs, she said.
“It didn’t have to be this way. It never had to be this bad,” she said.