April 1, 2016

Donald Trump didn't bother to understand Wisconsin, and Wisconsin seems to mind.

Maybe you think we're a frumpy pathetic rustbelt backwater and we'd be happy that you showed up at all and acted like you cared.

But it's not that way at all. The WSJ's Kimberly A. Strassel does a great job of summing up Wisconsin GOP politics for outsiders:

Wisconsin has been in continuous political warfare for six years. Over that time, Republicans lived through Gov. Scott Walker’s epic battle for his Act 10 public-sector bargaining reform; judicial races; a Senate recall effort; a gubernatorial recall effort; a political assault in a vicious John Doe probe; another election cycle; campaign-finance reform; an overhaul of the state’s ethics body; a right-to-work law; and prevailing-wage reform. To name a few.

The state is also proudly home to the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, and a governor (Scott Walker) who ran for his party's presidential nomination. The result is a conservative electorate that is highly informed, highly energized and highly involved. The fights so far have given voters an acute appreciation of the conservative principles at stake, and a pride in defeating union and liberal priorities. They have radar sensitive to “fake” Republicans, and many aren’t keen on what they are hearing from Mr. Trump.

Wisconsin’s recent political battles also resulted in a dramatic shift in the state’s communications culture.... Four “talkers” in particular— Charlie Sykes, Vicki McKenna, Jerry Bader and Mark Belling—exercise enormous influence, and cover nearly every inch of the state media market....

Mr. Trump stumbled onto three of the four biggest shows on Monday, seemingly unaware that all the hosts are part of the “Never Trump” movement. Mr. Sykes likened Mr. Trump to a “12-year-old bully” and insisted he was no conservative. Ms. McKenna was similarly rough, though Mr. Trump did himself no favors by hanging up on her.

He’s also won no votes by lambasting both Mr. Walker and Paul Ryan. Mr. Trump might have been looking at Mr. Walker’s statewide approval numbers (in the 40s) and figured that hitting Mr. Walker’s tax cuts was smart politics. But the governor’s approval with Republicans is significantly higher—likely in the 70% to 80% range.

Mr. Ryan also is widely liked and admired among Republicans in the state, in particular because he still actively engages in state battles. He regularly goes on talk radio; he has openly supported Walker reforms; he helps out state legislative candidates. Mr. Cruz, by contrast to Mr. Trump, clearly was well briefed on the broader environment. His praise of Messrs. Walker and Ryan earns him strong applause at events, and he’s grasped the power of the state radio....
Cruz (and his people) seem to do much better at grasping complexity and dealing with it. I have no reason to believe either Trump or Cruz cares much about Wisconsin other than as just one more state to appease and gratify, but the 2 men are revealing quite a lot about their mental capacity and competence. To govern, you have to maintain your stamina and attention to all sorts of elaborate problems that are not intrinsically emotionally rewarding, like caring about Wisconsin.

39 comments:

MayBee said...

I think anyone who calls the midwest the "rustbelt" or thinks of it as the "rustbelt" should be ashamed.
I like the way you worked it into your analysis.

TCom said...

Let's move Wisconsinites down 20 miles from the border with Ciudad Juarez and see if their opinion changes.

rhhardin said...

To govern, you have to maintain your stamina and attention to all sorts of elaborate problems that are not intrinsically emotionally rewarding, like caring about Wisconsin.

To run, not to govern. The women's vote must be pandered to, to run.

ddh said...

Donald Trump assigned Wisconsin to the best people he has.

Bob Boyd said...

Pro Tip:
Don't judge Wisconsin based solely on your experience with drivers having Wisconsin plates.

Perhaps this was Trump's mistake. He relied on his chauffeur to guide him on how to run in Wisconsin. Same guy who didn't know enough to bring plenty of extra cash for the State Troopers in LA.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

To run, not to govern. The women's vote must be pandered to, to run.

No guy ever gave a rat's ass whether or not a candidate kissed babies.

Perhaps women took it as good evidence that the candidate cared.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...Cruz (and his people) seem to do much better at grasping complexity and dealing with it.

Yeah but he's sanctimonious, looks weird, and talks too much like a lawyer. Organizational skills, intellect, and overall competence can't overcome that.

Steve Uhr said...

I remember when candidate jerry brown brought his Hollywood set to the Capitol, spot lights, special effects, b-class movie stars, directed by Francis ford Coppola. As I recall he didn't exactly blow away the electorate.

If only he brought Linda Ronstadt ... Things may have turned out different.

Michael K said...

" but the 2 men are revealing quite a lot about their mental capacity and competence. "

They are ? I would say that Cruz is a professional pol, albeit with less experience than many like Walker. Trump has a couple of powerful issues that don't seem to affect Wisconsin, according to what I have heard from Ryan and Walker.

David Ragsdale said...

The concern w/ Donald is that he could have chosen
to take either of the following approaches w/ no
damage to his brand.

1) Macro. Continued w/ his fly in, give same stump speech on Trade, Jobs, Immigration, ISIS, fly out approach.
Don't invest time in or on the Wisconsin Conservative media, don't tailor any part of the Wisconsin effort for Wisconsin.

2) Micro. Go completely "Wisconsin" Learn about the state-specific & intra-GOP issues, get Ron Johnson to host a Q&A session (like he did w/ Tim Scott in South Carolina). Get beat up on Sykes show and then call in the next day and the next day and the next day.

What Trump has done in Wisconsin however is an odd hybrid of 1 + 2 which doesn't really work.

I do now see & understand what is freaking out the GOP & #NeverTrump crowd.

Obviously, all campaigns have periods of suck and this is Trump's first. In the sense that all the previous ones revolved around
policies.

This horrible-for-Trump's campaign nadir is entirely about Trump as a campaigner & sales pitch.

Frankly it sucks right now & I doubt even Scott Adams would be able to spin this week (or last).

I still support Trump but he's gotta make some changes & righten his campaign or he's not going to win the nomination.

Corey has got to go. I'm not GOP pundit or Establishment grifter, but time & time again, Corey has screwed the pooch.
He acts more like Trump's bodyman than campaign manager. I doubt very much he (Corey) has the managerial or
administrative skill sets to run this campaign.

& Frankly neither does Trump.

AllenS said...

Living in rural Wisconsin is not at all like living in Madison or Milwaukee. I'll be interested in how Polk County chooses.

mccullough said...

Wisconsin hasn't gone GOP in a presidential race since 1984. It's a liberal state with an okay manufacturing base not much construction and a lot of fast food jobs. They also have some dairy farms for illegals to work on. And violent crime is spiking in Milwaukee.

AllenS said...

In 2012, loser Romney received 53.58% of the vote compared to Obama's 44.62%, and 1.80% for other(s) in Polk County WI.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

All Wisconsin hates Trump. Once again he has united a divided people.

And he did it without trying. He just was himself.

holdfast said...

Yeah but he's sanctimonious, looks weird, and talks too much like a lawyer. Organizational skills, intellect, and overall competence can't overcome that.

I really wish he's work on the sanctimoniousness - the other two are pretty much set.

On the other hand, Hillary! sounds screechy and hectoring, and has the speech patterns of a poorly-programmed robot. Her every utterance if poll-tested to within an inch of its life and her media availability is less than zero. She is smart, but is also thoroughly unlikable and a bit boring. Most of her accomplishments are grounded in being Bill Clinton's spouse - her tenure at State was somewhere between disastrous and felonious, with a dash of uninspiring on the side. Her only qualifications for the Presidency are (1) previous residency in the White House and (2) she's been running for the job since before some voters were born. Yet apparently she's the best the Dems have.

God help the USA.

Diamondhead said...

"Let's move Wisconsinites down 20 miles from the border with Ciudad Juarez and see if their opinion changes."

Cruz won El Paso county pretty handily.

Virgil Hilts said...

To understand Wisconsin you have to understand these "seemingly contradictory" facts: (i) it is arguably the most liberal and progressive state, and (ii) African Americans fare worse (relative to other groups) in Wisconsin than any other state. Gee, how could that be? From a progressive perspective, maybe there is no contradiction -- "we just do a better job here keeping them dependent and unsuccessful." Weird how much better African Americans do in Utah. "Think of it!" as my grandpa used to say.

Birkel said...

holdfast:

I have seen some evidence that Cruz understands his own shortcomings and tries to compensate as best he can. But he really is not very naturally charming.

The country broke hard for charming, incompetent, unskilled and untested in 2008. Eight years later I hope we learned our lesson.

Mark said...

AllenS, I will be interested in the rural part of the state too. So much focus on Milwaukee and it's surrounding counties which were unlikely to go Trump anyway as they are die hard establishment GOP through and through and will pull whatever lever their master tells them to.

The Cracker Emcee said...

'The country broke hard for charming, incompetent, unskilled and untested in 2008. Eight years later I hope we learned our lesson"

In politics, that particular lesson is unlearnable. American politics is an exercise in recurring amnesia.

Your \Master said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTbkbH3x7LQ Trump will be president soon.
2 things.... wisconsin isn't really that important longterm for delegates
ultimately Cruz has to win about 80% of the states to win the nomination at this point. trump only needs 30% ...so your looking at your next nominee. :D

Also the antics of the GOP towards trump are starting to turn a lot of voters away from the GOP itself. ...so this second part is very relevant... If the GOP manages to screw trump out of the nomination when he has almost all the delegates.
....you can look forward to 8 yrs of hillary clinton. *lol*

here's the reason the GOP doesn't like Trump, first he's self funded (aka... doesn't need endorsements to win/thus owing these people special favors)
....which breaks the Washington machine itself. there never has been a candidate rich enough to self fund and win the presidency - but Trump can.

....that's why the GOP are so afraid of him - their freeloading the system has a very large chance of ending. there hasn't been a real republican in the GOP since Reagan.

so you see why the GOP supports Ted Cruz... he at least while disliked by the party.. can be controlled ...in such a way that he needs endorsements and the GOP support to have a chance at beating trump.

do you think that help/support (if Cruz wins that is) will not come without strings attached (promises of special favors)? how well do you trust Ted? given what he did in Iowa to ben carson, and in florida to Rubio... he is willing to screw people over for his own personal gain.

mikee said...

As a Texan, I learned about Wisconsin (and came to read this blog) when the leftists there went totally apeshit over a Republican legislature and governor actually daring to attempt enacting laws that followed Republican principals.

What I learned then, and what is still true today, is that Republicans in Wisconsin are considered by leftists to be an inferior life form which should likely be eliminated from the body politic. Such is the tolerance for diversity of the left.

Trump and Cruz should use this fact of Wisconsin politics to rally Republicans to their cause by ignoring primary election issues and simply denouncing the hell out of the state's leftist Democrats for their horrible behavior during the Walker era. It would at least be fun to watch, and might do some good.

grimson said...

It is not that Trump does not understand Wisconsin politics (although he probably did not understand the radio programs), but a strategic decision by him. As with his trashing of Dubya before the South Carolina primary, he is going after Democrat voters in a state with an open primary. Given the closeness of the Clinton and Sanders polling, though, it seems doubtful that many Democrats will cross over to vote for Trump instead.

jdniner said...

What Mikee said. My view of Wisconsin is one of a perverted state full of rabid snowflakes. It's a bite that needs to be cauterized and cleansed. You want to get out of that mess? Vote Walker and Trump. Cruz will forget about you once in office. Trump policies will work in the state.

Titus said...

I am from Wisconsin and fled when I was 17.

The state is predominately white with no fab large city.

Milwaukee is not as bad as Detroit but worse than Cleveland. Milwaukee is basically a shit hole. Milwaukee has lost much of their population.

Madison thinks it is all that and it definitely is not. Downtown is cute but the rest of the city is gross with strip malls and huge apartment/condo complexes that all look the same-no character. But they have a pool!

Fox Valley has some large corporations-Kimberly Clark; Kohler.

The rest of the state is rural and poor.

There are no small farms anymore....they have been acquired by large farms (who receive huge federal subsidies) with like over 2000 cows and immigrant and illegal staff.

The northern part of the state has some pretty lakes which are infested during the summer with Minneapolis/Chicago folks with second homes. A large town in the northern part of the state would be like 10,000 people. The winters are brutal. The people are fat, older and overwhelmingly white-perfect pube base.

People love to bowl, eat, hunt, fish, drink beer, and watch the Packers-there isn't much more to do in the state. Tons of drunk drivers in the state.

tits

Sebastian said...

"the 2 men are revealing quite a lot about their mental capacity and competence" They are "revealing" that? You mean, Trump's actual competence and mental capacity had also been under the radar?

Rick said...

Titus said...
Milwaukee is not as bad as Detroit but worse than Cleveland. Milwaukee is basically a shit hole.


I'd think a man in your positions would consider that a compliment, so I'm a bit thrown by the discordance.

Luke Lea said...

But then Wisconsin is an open primary. What about Independents and the Democratic cross-over votes? Could they make a difference?

Qwinn said...

"he at least while disliked by the party.. can be controlled ...in such a way that he needs endorsements and the GOP support to have a chance at beating trump."

I really don't see it. Cruz knows he's been reviled by the GOPe since he entered Congress. He doesn't need to make any promises to get the GOPe's support. They *have* to support him because they hate Trump even more. He knows their support is anti-Trump instead of pro-Cruz. Why should that leave him indebted to them at all?

Alex said...

Sooner or later, Wisconsin will throw out Walker and the Republicans and go "whole hog" with socialist policies. 2011-2016 will be remembered as an interlude of socialist attenuation on Wisconsin's natural state.

mezzrow said...

Well, he's not nice and Wisconsin is nice, except when they are an employee of or member of a public employees union. Those folks are nice too, unless you mess with their rice bowl.

Trump's just not very Wisconsin. Scott Walker, very Wisconsin. Trump, not Wisconsin at all.

Have we seen him eating any cheese curds yet? Just asking.

Titus said...

Oh yes-the people in Wisconsin are very nice-but they don't really have a reason to have any type of attitude.

You see people in Wisconsin and think....I didn't know someone could be that fucking fat.

Birkel said...

Titus:

Your bigotry is showing. Do try to keep your awful bigotry to yourself. It makes you ugly and totes unfab.

Why must you persist in this grand effort to reveal your bigotry?

Viking In Winter said...

Why are the guys that are dissing Wisconsin posing naked for a political blog?

CatherineM said...

Birkel - Why is Titus a bigot when he just doesn't like where he is from? Many people have very strong feelings about where they are from and they have valid reasons why a locale brings out strong feelings. If one feels the need to flee at 17, I am guessing there are strong reasons behind it, although I won't guess why.

This is an open forum on which Ann gives us the privilege to comment, and he did. If you don't agree why don't you say why you disagree?

Birkel said...

Catherine:

I deplore bigotry in all its forms. Titus is a bigot. Bigot is defined as "a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion" and that surely includes bigotry against fat people who think fatness is ok.

Does anybody sense tolerance in Titus?

I tolerate Titus, of course. But I will not pretend that he is not a bigot.

CatherineM said...

Birkel - I was wondering if it was the fat comments. I didn't want to assume.

I don't usually pay attention to Titus. I usually just think of him as trying to be entertaining or provocative. Today he struck a chord of honesty, like those I know who hate where they came from (Phoenix and St. Louis..) and his anger sounds familiar and real. I don't think he is a bigot so plainly as you suggest, but he can answer for himself. I heard someone deeply angry and taking that anger on anyone who fit the profile of those people who angered him. I wish him peace.

Birkel said...

CatherineM:

I, too, wish Titus peace. The first step on the way is to give up the bigotry he so eagerly displays. Hatred is ugly and it burdens the soul.

Titus wrongly believes he is upsetting the squares. He pretends at provocation. For all his alleged success, he sounds angry at his past. As somebody who has overcome a horrible mess, I sympathize.

But I have little tolerance for his bigotry. Bigotry for white, middle class squares (some of whom are fat) is no better than other forms of bigotry.