Trump takes long shot on blue states

He looks to par­lay vis­its into vic­to­ries

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Me­lanie Ma­son and Michael A. Me­moli

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — With one week be­fore elec­tion day, Don­ald Trump spent the bulk of Tues­day cam­paign­ing in Wis­con­sin, a state that has not backed a Repub­li­can for pres­i­dent since 1984.

The un­ortho­dox visit came on the heels of trips to Michi­gan and Penn­syl­va­nia, states that also haven’t gone red since the 1980s.

For the fi­nal stretch of the pres­i­den­tial race, the GOP nom­i­nee has em­barked on a strat­egy of long-shot bids, hold­ing ral­lies and air­ing ads in states that have been re­li­ably Demo­cratic in re­cent elec­tions. The gam­bit sac­ri­fices face time in bat­tle­ground states, but if suc­cess­ful, would up­end the po­lit­i­cal map and likely hand Trump the White House.

“The Trump cam­paign is on the of­fen­sive and ex­pand­ing our pres­ence in bat­tle­ground states into blue states,” David Bossie, Trump’s deputy cam­paign man­ager, told re­porters Tues­day.

Trump’s cam­paign be­lieves it can flip states by re­ly­ing on his pop­ulist rhetoric that con­nects with white work­ing-class vot­ers hurt by the Rust Belt’s de­cline in man­u­fac­tur­ing.

Michi­gan was among 13 states where the Trump cam­paign placed a $25 mil­lion ad buy for the fi­nal week of the race, dig­i­tal di­rec­tor Brad Parscale an­nounced. Penn­syl­va­nia and New Mex­ico, other mostly re­li­ably blue states, were also on the list.

At a rally Mon­day in War­ren, Mich., Trump seemed al­most giddy as he re­peat­edly men­tioned how a win in the state would buck his­tor­i­cal prece­dent.

“No Repub­li­can has won since like Rea­gan or some­thing” — it was ac­tu­ally Ge­orge H.W. Bush — “many years ago. And I said, ‘I love Michi­gan,’ ” he said. A Don­ald Trump and Hil­lary Clin­ton signs are posted on a road in McLean, Va.

Trump has made a num­ber of high-pro­file vis­its to the state, and he has en­thu­si­as­tic grass-roots groups such as the Michi­gan Con­ser­va­tive Coali­tion or­ga­niz­ing flash mobs and knock­ing on doors on his be­half.

His cam­paign also has more than 30 of­fices in the state and con­sis­tently knocks on at least 100,000 doors a week, said Scott Hager­strom, who runs Trump’s cam­paign in Michi­gan.

Trump faces hur­dles in Michi­gan, Penn­syl­va­nia and Wis­con­sin, a state that no Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date has won since 1984. He trails in pub­lic polls by five to six points in those states, ac­cord­ing to av­er­ages main­tained by Real Clear Politics.

But if the race tight­ens sig­nif­i­cantly, the time in­vested in those states may yield div­i­dends.

“The cam­paigns are in­ter­ested in po­ten­tial tip­ping-point states if the race closes to 50-50 na­tion­ally, not just where they are in the polls right now,” said Matt Gross­mann, di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute for Pub­lic Pol­icy and So­cial Re­search at Michi­gan State Univer­sity. “In a closer na­tional race, Michi­gan should be com­pet­i­tive.”

Late-au­tumn en­croach­ment on ri­val ter­ri­tory is not unique to Trump. Past elec­tions also have seen eleventh-hour ma­neu­vers, such as then-GOP nom­i­nee Mitt Rom­ney mak­ing an in­cur­sion into Penn­syl­va­nia two days be­fore the 2012 elec­tion.

Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton is mak­ing her own ef­forts to pick off typ­i­cally red states, par­tic­u­larly Ari­zona. She’ll hold a rally in Tempe on Wed­nes­day, and run­ning mate Tim Kaine will give a speech en­tirely in Span­ish on Thurs­day in Phoenix.

Cam­paign man­ager Robby Mook called Ari­zona a “bat­tle­ground state” based on in­ter­nal anal­y­sis of early vot­ing data and voter reg­is­tra­tion trends.

“What I would like to call ‘the Hil­lary coali­tion’ is start­ing to emerge,” Mook


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