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Joe Biden: You know who I am. You know who he is. The character of the country is on the ballot. Our character is on the ballot. Look at us closely.
President Trump: You were Vice President, along with Obama as your President, your leader, for eight years. Why didn't you get it done? Because you're all talk and no action, Joe.
Biden: We got a lot of it down. He pours fuel on every single racist fire.
President Trump: I'm the least racist person in this room.
Biden: I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life.
President Trump: Would you close down the [crosstalk]--
Biden: [unintelligible 00:01:07] transition from their own industry? Yes. You have not released a single solitary year of your tax return. What are you hiding?
President Trump: What did I pay? They said, sir, you prepaid tens of millions of dollars. I prepaid my tax. I take full responsibility. It's not my fault that he came here.
Biden: He says that we're learning to live with it. People are learning to die with it.
President Trump: "Let's get off this China thing," and then he looks to family around the table every-- Just a typical politician.
Biden: Their kids were ripped from their arms and separated, and now they cannot find over 500 of sets of those parents and those kids are alone. Nowhere to go.
President Trump: They are so well-taken care of.
Amy Walter: It's Politics with Amy Walter on The Takeaway. With the second and final debate behind them, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, are in the final stretch of a campaign that feels like it's been going on for about a 100 years. It's also a campaign that despite all of the incredible events that have occurred during it- a pandemic, an uprising for racial justice, an impeachment, an economic crisis- it's been relatively stable.
Joe Biden has been leading Donald Trump since the beginning of the year. Can Donald Trump do anything in these last few days to close this gap? Joining me to discuss all of this is Joel Payne, a Democratic strategist and Host of the podcast, Here Comes the Payne; and Patrick Ruffini, a Republican pollster and political strategist. Joel, Patrick; welcome.
Patrick Ruffini: Thank you so much.
Joel Payne: Good to be with you.
Amy: Patrick, I'm going to start with you, but Joel, you're going to weigh in too, on the debate, and whether-- First of all, I guess your takeaways from it, and whether you think that this is something that could have an impact here in these last final days.
Patrick: Well, I think that debate was something approaching normal. Of course, that was a low bar after the first debate. Now, look, is this going to be the singular event that helps Donald Trump make up all the ground that he needs to make up in the next 11 days? Probably not. Could it be the event that gets him out of the nine-point to 10-point polling deficit that he's been in and gets that number back to, let's say, a more manageable six points to seven points, which has been that long-term average, as you mentioned, this race has been very stable.
If he can do that, that will certainly be very helpful to a lot of Republicans running down-ballot, which is really the main point of suspense. I think that we probably still have in this election; who's going to control the Senate? I mean, there's not much doubt about who's going to control the House, but what are gains there going to look like either way? I think he didn't do what he needed to do, from the standpoint of completely changing the trajectory of this race, but he may have solidified his base. He may have, I think, prevented people from just giving up, which is where we were probably a week or two ago.
Amy: Joel, I'm curious what you think about that because Patrick is right. We talked to a lot of Republicans after that very first debate, and there is a lot of panic in their voice; that the bottom was going to drop out, that not only were they going to lose the Senate, but they could lose many more seats than they had expected in the Senate. Do you think that coming this close to the election, Donald Trump's debate performance at least helps make that floor a little more solid for Republicans?
Joel: I think that's certainly where my mind is after that recent debate. Look, this race was trending towards Reagan, Mondale, '84. It was trending towards Obama, McCain, '08. Now, I think it's a little bit closer to like Obama, Romney, which is competitive, right? It's not a complete wipe-out, but it's something where Republicans, at least those down-ballot, have something to run with Donald Trump with.
What we were hearing over the last couple of weeks before that debate was Republicans talking about distancing themselves from Trump; people like Ben Sasse and John Cornyn, putting a lot of space between themselves and the President. I think after that debate, there are things from what the President said and his rhetorical reflections and the defense of kind of Republican orthodoxy that were acceptable and that were palatable to the base.
I think overall both candidates were better. I think Donald Trump needed Joe Biden to be a catastrophe. He needed Joe Biden to be a disaster and he wasn't. So overall, the trajectory of the race didn't change, but I do think that Trump probably did himself some favors and consolidating maybe some soft Republican support.
Amy: Joel, tell me what you think Joe Biden needs to do in these final days. During the debate, it struck me that he wasn't just playing prevent-defense. He was actually on offense for a good portion of that debate. Is that what you're expecting to see from him in these next few days?
Joel: I would expect that the Vice President and his team are going to take nothing for granted. Even though it's pretty apparent from the public polls and just the overall posture of the race that he is ahead by whatever standards we use to measure ahead or behind before actual votes are counted, per se. He's certainly ahead, but I don't think he is going to play prevent-defense, as you say. I think he's going to be very proactive.
I think there are three words I think about when I think about where the former Vice President's team is right now; it's enthusiasm, it's organization and it's turnout. So spike enthusiasm, get people excited, and also just really helping those down-ballot because what's going to be important for Joe Biden is not just winning. It's also bringing a lot of Democrats with him.
People like Barbara Bollier in Kansas, maybe helping her out. People like Jon Ossoff in Georgia, Raphael Warnock in Georgia, Cal Cunningham in North Carolina. Making sure that the organization is in place so that not only does Joe Biden win, but that he drags a lot of Democrats over the finish line with him.
Amy: Well, that's right, Joel. That would mean that that Biden would need to do better in some of these red states that he doesn't necessarily need to win to get to the Electoral College. That's the question is; does he spend more time and resources in Iowa, or does he just focus intently on go to Pennsylvania, get Arizona, get Florida, don't spend your time or energy in these last few days doing anything other than ensuring that you win?
Joel: I think you ensure that you win. I think when these candidates and campaigns get in trouble is when they maybe their eyes get a little bigger than their stomach, and they try to be a little bit too much focused on a 50-state strategy as opposed to a battleground strategy. We know Hillary Clinton faltered in some of those battleground states last time because Trump, frankly, outworked her in some of those states. I don't think the Biden folks are going to let that happen this time.
Amy: Patrick, how do you think Republicans are preparing for a potential post-Trump White House and even a Democratic majority in the Senate?
Patrick: I find that after these transitions of power that people typically focus on less of the hand-wringing about what happens in the election that maybe lasts a few weeks, and it really becomes about opposing the incumbent's White House and the debate moves on pretty quickly. We certainly saw that within a few weeks as Obama taking Office; that Republicans seemed to have their mojo back. You had those Tea Party rallies emerge just a few weeks after Obama became President winning a landslide election. That set them up for a very good mid-term election two years hence.
Amy: Patrick, obviously there are folks in Congress- sitting Members of Congress right now who are trying to position themselves, thinking about a world where Trump is not in the White House, but is your expectation the same as mine, which is Donald Trump is not going to go into the background? He is still going to be an active force in politics and will still have a tremendous amount of influence. Talk a little bit about that.
How does the Party move on to finding new leaders and a new nominee in 2024, with the President still so active and looming around every corner?
Patrick: You're right in that he is going to be and would be a complete wild card in a way that former Presidents have not been, and we can't really predict exactly what he will do. I think that there's one school of thought that says; he's done with this, doesn't want to be President anymore, didn't enjoy it. Obviously, I think he will comment. But short of him throwing his hat in the ring for another campaign in 2024, trying to make a comeback, I think the focus overwhelmingly should shift to a new generation of leaders.
You've had Nikki Haley, you have Tim Scott, you have-- Mike Pence will make a strong entry if he chooses to run. I think the focus is going to invariably shift to that next generation. The question is who among that can capture that same undeniable sense of energy that Trump did certainly bring in 2016 to the primary campaign; steamrolled through 16 candidates. The question is really if there is a Trump heir, who will that be? But I think it's going to be someone from a new generation, rather than Trump himself.
Amy: Joel, let's talk about on the other side, so play out the hypotheticals for Democrats; should Biden win, how does Biden work? Even if you have a Democratic Senate, how does he- Joe Biden that is- work with Republicans? He has premised his entire campaign about the unity message and the bipartisan message. How realistic is that?
Joel: I think it's certainly realistic in the Vice President's mind. Should he win, I think the things that I would be looking out for are the type of people that he surrounds himself with. If you remember back in 2008/2009, when Barack Obama won. In his transition, you could look at the signaling around; who did he pick as his Chief of Staff? Who were folks who were his main liaisons in Congress, right? People like the Dick Durbins of the world who you knew were going to guide him. He had Rahm Emanuel who was his Chief of Staff, so you knew you had somebody who was deeply-rooted in deal-making on Capitol Hill. That actually dictated what people were expecting.
I think a lot of the talk now about Biden is; well, who would his Chief of Staff be? Is it someone like a Ron Klain? Is it someone like a Steve Ricchetti? Is someone like a Karine Jean-Pierre? I think all of those types of picks might have that kind of heft with it in terms of the type of governing philosophy that a Biden White House would have.
I also think it really just depends on where the country is at the moment that Joe Biden would hypothetically take Office. I actually think it's going to be very similar to what Barack Obama faced in 2008. You had a crisis then. There was a crisis moment where you couldn't come in and just do what you wanted to do to help make the base happy. You had things that had to happen around stimulus at that point.
Well, guess what? Joe Biden, should he be elected, is going to have another situation where probably more stimulus is going to be needed to reinvigorate the economy. You're probably going to have to do some common-sense things that are going to require some bipartisan commonty. I think that the situation will dictate what Biden does, but I also think there will be some tea-leaf-reading of the type of people that Biden surrounds himself with. I think that will also dictate the type of government that Joe Biden will run.
Amy: Then let's talk about that next piece. Obviously, this is something that the President has talked a lot about Republicans expect to happen, which is there's going to be some sort of Liberal-Progressive uprising, and that Biden is going to have no choice but to accede to their policy positions. What do you make of that?
Joel: By the way, if you want to get me, I'm like an old man at the Thanksgiving table about this. This is the thing that I think everybody will realize really if Joe Biden should win, but also if Joe Biden loses. The Progressive wing of the Democratic Party feels like, "Okay, we took our medicine. We decided to play along and be a part of a coalition," and you've even seen little fissures that have been popping up over the last couple of weeks.
Remember that story in the Washington Post about Bernie Sanders not being happy with Joe Biden, kind of throwing him under the bus a little bit on the campaign trail? Those are the little ticks that I'm starting to see. After the election, I'm telling you, there is going to be a very fierce battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, and it will dictate everything from what comes first in a Congress.
We talked a little bit about the things that might have to come first, but a buzzword, as you're on the left Progressive wing of the Party, is democracy reform. That means things like the Filibuster. We saw, by the way, a test case of that with Dianne Feinstein in the Coney Barrett hearings over the last few weeks, where Dianne Feinstein got in trouble with the Left of the Party because she was too complimentary to Lindsey Graham. That's almost like a weather balloon of what to expect next year. The Progressive wing of the Party is going to hold Biden accountable, and they are going to want a real seat at the table in terms of how to govern, what comes first, and what are the priority issues that the Party gets behind.
By the way, whether the remedies that a Chuck Schumer Senate potentially, if the Democrats were to, say, take the Senate, what remedies a Chuck Schumer Senate or a Nancy Pelosi House might put forward to address some of the hot issues that we'll be dealing with. This is a big issue. I can just tell you, someone who's been a part of a lot of conversations on the Left and in the mainstream of the Party, this is a hot issue. Regardless of a Biden win or lose scenario, I think this will be one of the dominant stories of that interregnum period between the election and Inauguration Day.
Amy: Thank you both, Patrick, Joel, for bringing your insights here. I really, really appreciate it.
Joel: Thank you.
Patrick: Thank you so much.
Amy: It's been six months since the $2 trillion CARES Act was signed into law and aid was made available to families and businesses that have been struggling. Since March, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, and as a result of the lack of aid, more Americans are now living in poverty. What are lawmakers saying about the prospects for a deal? Well, it's some pretty mixed messages.
Lawmaker 1: The talks are talking. That's how I would put it.
Lawmaker 2: We've made progress in this regard, but we're still not there but we can be.
President Trump: Not every Republican agrees with me but they will, but I want to do it even bigger than the Democrats.
Lawmaker 3: Those checks are not a part of this package.
Biden: He should have been- instead of being in a sand trap in his golf course, he should have been negotiating with Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats and Republicans.
Lawmaker 4: We got what? 12 days left or something, so yes, that's true. The clock is ticking.
Amy: While negotiations between Speaker Pelosi and Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, have plugged on for some time, conflicting guidance from the White House and the leader of the Senate means it's unlikely a deal will come together ahead of Election Day. To talk about the latest on the stimulus talks and what it could mean if a package comes together after the election, we called up Emily Cochrane, Congressional Reporter at The New York Times.
Emily Cochrane: I wish I could predict. I wish I could say, "I could guarantee when we know that there's going to be a deal." There's just a lot of political factors that have hampered a deal thus far that just won't go away until November 3rd. A lot of the calculations that you are seeing are not just how best to help the American people right now during the pandemic, but what is going to happen on November 3rd. There's a lot of calculations among the Republicans in terms of how best to satisfy their base. What does the Republican Party stand for, particularly if President Trump loses? There's also calculations among the Democrats. Do you want to help President Trump right before the election by agreeing to a deal with him?
Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Mnuchin are going through the motions. They have talked almost every single day for the last couple of weeks. They say they're optimistic, they are trying, but there is a lot of groundwork that needs to be done before there is a Bill on the President's desk.
Amy: Emily, that's such a good point because what you seem to be saying here is that what's holding up these talks and where the sticking points are, is much more political than it is substantive, or are the real substantive things. We hear the President saying over and over again; I don't want this money going to Democratic-run cities that are terrible; and McConnell saying we need liability protections or else businesses won't reopen. They're worried about getting sued.
Can you walk us through that? How much of this is substance and how much of this is politics?
Emily: It's a combination of both, quite frankly. Some of the biggest outstanding policy issues; as you mentioned, the Democratic push to get billions of dollars to state and local governments which have seen revenues drop as a result of the pandemic; a Republican demand for liability protections, which some Democrats have said are a non-starter; the Democratic push for a national testing strategy; these are policy issues that have long hampered a deal since May, when the House first passed their offer for an ultimate deal.
There are also some political calculations. We're seeing the fiscal hawks really take a stand in the Republican Party. Sometimes in the past, they've been okay with spending. We saw that actually with the last big stimulus Bill; $2.2 trillion and it was a unanimous vote in the Senate. Now, you're seeing those fiscal hawks come out and voice concerns about spending a lot of taxpayer monies, borrowing more money, in a way that they weren't before. Part of that is because Republicans do have a fiscally-conservative base and they want to please that base. They're keeping those folks in mind. You are hearing that a lot more from people who aren't necessarily about to or are currently facing voters in the November election.
Amy: What about Democrats, though? I would assume, though, that there are a lot of Democrats running for re-election who would like to be able to go home and tell their constituents they delivered money for them, especially those who are really struggling at this time. Why isn't there more pressure on Pelosi to just get something passed, whether it is the most perfect Bill or not?
Emily: There is certainly a lot of pressure on Pelosi from her moderates. That's why she ended up putting a second version. The original Bill was called HEROES. They called the second one HEROES 2.0. She put that on the floor earlier this month as a way of saying, "Look, we're compromising. We came down from $3.4 trillion to $2.4 trillion," which is a huge sum of money and as a way of showing that they were compromising. They were trying, in good faith, to reach a deal.
You still had some moderates vote against that legislation because they said it needed to be bipartisan. They wanted to see a deal with the Secretary.
It helps that Speaker Pelosi is in the room with Secretary Mnuchin. Even after the President tweeted and said he had asked negotiators to stop all talks until after Election Day, she kept talking to the Secretary. They keep saying that they have made progress and they're moving closer together. Publicly, she is going through the motions, and so is the Secretary, of trying to reach an agreement.
Amy: There's not much time before the election. We do know that post-election, there is the potential that you could have a lame-duck session. In other words, the time between when the election ends and the new Congress comes in. What would a potential stimulus Bill look like if it were crafted in that time, and do you think that's even possible? I guess what we're looking for is at the end of the year, what could people, who really are hurting right now, expect to get?
Emily: Again, I really wish I could give some sort of guarantee or some sort of outline, but really, how November 3rd unfolds- how the election unfolds will shape the lame-duck in ways that I just can't predict right now. If you have a Republican Senate looking at a new majority- a Democratic majority- in January, that's going to change some of the priorities that they have.
If President Trump is outgoing, as opposed to preparing for a second term, does he want to pass a deal that could help Biden if he takes Office in January? This all sounds very callous and very political. It's a shame that we talk about the political factors as opposed to just the cut-and-dry; people are hurting and need relief, but those political factors have shaped the conversation so far and it's not going to happen in a vacuum come November.
Amy: Emily Cochrane, thank you so much for helping us navigate this, and good luck to you on your continuing challenge in doing so.
Emily: Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.
Amy: Emily Cochrane is a Congressional Reporter at the New York Times.
Amy: Donald Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by just over 22,000 votes; the first Republican to win the Badger State since 1984. How did he do it? Some blame Hillary Clinton for failing to show up there during the general election. Others point to Trump's success in turning out previously disengaged voters in small town and rural parts of the state. Then there was the lack of enthusiasm for Clinton in Milwaukee, especially among Black voters.
For the last couple of years, I've been checking in with Congresswoman Gwen Moore, who represents the City of Milwaukee in Congress, and how Democrats plan to reach out to Black voters, especially young voters, in 2020. With early voting starting this week, I thought it would be a great idea to check back in with Congresswoman Moore one last time before Election Day.
Congresswoman Gwen Moore: Well, unfortunately, in 2016, we saw a drop-off in certain wards in the City of Milwaukee; as much as, I think, 43% drop-off. We saw only 2.6 million absentee ballots cast in Wisconsin in all of 2016. We've already hit the one million mark in early vote just started on the 20th of October. We had, on the first day of early vote, 75,000 people show up at 13 different sites. We've got drop boxes at 13 locations. Even though the Republicans lopped off a couple of weeks of early vote during their lame-duck session after they lost the gubernatorial race in 2018, we've doubled down on our efforts to make sure people can vote.
Of course, we can't forget what happened in April, and so I think people are doing a couple of things. They're masking up and voting by mail, hybrid ways of voting. I did the hybrid form. I got my absentee ballot in the mail and then dropped it off at a drop box.
Amy: Why did you choose to do it that way, rather than drop it in the mailbox?
Congresswoman Gwen: My polling site, literally, I just walk through the alley and there it is, and there was a drop box. There's a voting drop box that was closer to me than any Post Office or blue mailbox that I could go to. Also, when I think about the target group of people that we're going after in Wisconsin; those first-time voters, those infrequent voters, the millennials- some of the millennials, younger millennials- some of the millennials that really rescued us in 2018 and turned this state blue.
When we think about those iffy voters, those people who may choose to vote third-party or choose to ride this out; when we think about the younger voters, they don't mail anything. They do texts, they do emails. I've urged many of them to use the hybrid form. Go on and get the doggone thing in the mailbox, and then you can use any number and then that just expands your opportunity to drop it off.
Amy: Congresswoman, we talked a couple of years ago about Wisconsin and Wisconsin in the future. We looked back at 2016. You had one of the more memorable quotes, I think, that I've gotten from a Member of Congress. Which was- when I asked you what it was like in Milwaukee in 2016, you said something like; it was so quiet here, the enthusiasm was so low for Democrats that you could hear a mouse ping on [crosstalk]--
Congresswoman Gwen: Mouse [bleep] [laughs] [crosstalk]--
Amy: Yes, right. Where's that mouse now?
Congresswoman Gwen: I can tell you that we have really been very competitive in messaging. I think that next to George Washington, Hillary Clinton was the most prepared candidate that this country had ever seen. Unfortunately, she had very high unlikeables consistent with how people felt about Donald Trump, and so there wasn't much activity. Then her campaign- not her- her campaign calculated that they would try to expand the map in ways that we're trying to do now.
There weren't resources put into our community. We got on that very, very early and made sure that the DNC and the Biden campaign put a spotlight on Wisconsin. Of course, our convention was upended, but we are still very proud that we provided the leadership for the first-ever virtual convention, and I think we did an excellent job. All of the trains were running out of Milwaukee. All those screens you saw and that marvelous roll call; it became the basis for the kind of values that we wanted to spread here.
Making sure that we, number one, target the group of voters that are most critical in this particular state, which is that 18 to 29-year-old cohort. Making sure that we had surrogates do radio, do other sorts of Zoom events that appeal to that other group. And to make sure we did a lot of pushback against President Trump and his surrogates constantly coming to Wisconsin, and of course, trying to stoke racial divisions, start a civil war in Kenosha.
Amy: Well, I wonder what you're hearing from these younger voters. Because back in 2016, what we heard from many of them, especially younger African American voters- younger African American men, especially- was a level of cynicism and frustration about politics in general. They certainly weren't feeling particularly connected to Hillary Clinton.
We'd been hearing a little bit of that now and that there's not the same level of enthusiasm for Biden, as a lot of Democrats would hope that they would see from younger voters of color. What are you seeing and hearing?
Congresswoman Gwen: You're not trying to find the love of your life. You're trying to find a President. What I say to younger people is that I really get your grievances. You've been marching all year-long, even in the face of COVID, for justice after we saw the horrific deaths of folks like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. You want something done right now about climate action, gun violence. Income inequality is really at a historic level that's dangerous for our democracy. I get it that you want change. Why would you now disarm at a point in time when just in 2019, the Gen Xers, the millennials, the Gen Zs; you have finally surpassed the Baby Boomers in terms of total population, and now the agency and the decision-making is in your hands? This is not the time to disarm. You have the power now.
When you look at the consequential activities of our government; just as an example, the Supreme Court picks. I'm 69, Amy. I've had Justice Blackmun, Justice Thurgood Marshall, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. These are going to be just judges that you're going to have for the rest of your life. I told my granddaughter, "This is not even about preserving your right to have an abortion. How about birth control, for God's sake?"
What Republicans couldn't accomplish legislatively-- I mean, 70 times. 70 times. I stopped counting the times that they voted to try to undermine the Affordable Care Act. I lost count, so I can't even say that's an exact number. It's 70 or more. When you look at the administrative things that they've done to try to undermine it, that's just piles on.
Amy: Congresswoman Gwen Moore represents Wisconsin's 4th Congressional District. After checking in on Milwaukee, I wanted to get a better understanding of where things stand statewide. Polls have shown Biden with a narrow lead in the state, but can early voting numbers tell us anything about which candidate has the upper hand going into these final days?
No one covers Wisconsin politics, and especially voting patterns and behaviors, like Craig Gilbert who's the Washington Bureau Chief for The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. So, I called him up and started by asking him what voter turnout looks like so far.
Craig Gilbert: We've had more than a million people vote in Wisconsin, which is- we're well past one-third and approaching 40% of the total turnout in 2016. This is a sea change from any previous fall election where voting by mail was pretty trivial- 5% or 6% of the vote- and voting early in-person was more substantial, but still 15% or 20% of the vote. So this doesn't look like anything we've seen before.
We're getting some patterns in the early voting and the absentee voting. We've certainly seen, with respect to voting by mail, that the communities that are doing that at the highest rates are basically very Democratic suburbs of Milwaukee and Madison, with a lot of college-educated voters; places where Donald Trump did really badly last time and will do really badly this time.
Amy: The question always when we look at this early vote is; okay, so are these people that were likely to come out and vote anyway? Or do we think that there are new people that are coming out and voting early or sending in ballots that wouldn't have done so otherwise?
Craig: I think there's some indication that parts of the Democratic Coalition are very mobilized. I talked about college-educated white voters and we're seeing that these people could not wait to vote, but we're also seeing some indication that parts of the Republican coalition are also really mobilized. We've just had a few days of early in-person voting. It started this past week, but if you look at the places that have the highest rates of in-person early voting, it's a different group. It's a more Republican group.
It's the famous Republican counties like Ozaukee, and Waukesha, and Washington. It's small Republican communities around the state. What I take away from that is these are places where people were anxious to vote, but they didn't want to vote by mail. So at the first opportunity to vote in-person, they did. Again, that's a little bit of a change because in the past, in-person early voting has been a more Democratic phenomenon in Wisconsin, but in this case, a lot of those people and those communities have already heavily voted by mail.
Amy: What about the City of Milwaukee? Obviously in 2016, there was a lot of hand-wringing by Democrats after that election about lower turnout in Milwaukee. And wondering if what you're hearing, seeing; whether it's in the early vote or other indications about what that turnout could look like.
Craig: The City of Milwaukee has cast the most early in-person votes, which is not surprising. It's the biggest city in the state. They are doing pretty well. I would say overall, in terms of the percentage if you compare the percentage of 2016 turnout that we've seen in the City of Milwaukee, it's not Madison. Which Madison is a high bar. Madison is such a political city. Madison and the suburbs around Madison are sort of leading the way, and they'll be leading the way in terms of turnout overall.
I would say the early vote is pretty respectable in the City of Milwaukee. It's bigger in some of the suburbs north of Milwaukee. Milwaukee, also, we saw in the spring election, tends to come in a little bit later. We've got two weeks to go, and we're going to have to wait and see what the full picture is for the City of Milwaukee.
Amy: In our previous conversations, we've talked about the challenges for both Biden and Trump. A lot of it centers on just what kind of turnout can President Trump get from that small town, rural part of Wisconsin, or in the western part of Wisconsin. We'd been seeing in polls that he seemed to be lagging somewhat there.
I'm wondering what you think of where he is now with those voters, and if there are any signs, whether it's in polling or what you're hearing from around the state, on what your expectations are.
Craig: I think that he's got two challenges. One is to do as well or better in percentage terms in those communities because they are a smaller and smaller share of the overall electorate. His strength, in many cases, has been a parts of the state that aren't growing. If you assume, like many of us do, that there are going to be other parts of the state where he does worse than he did in 2016, he's got to really exceed his performance in some of these places, and he's also got to try to bring out more voters. He did that in 2016, but I think on top of what he did in 2016, his challenge is to get some of those people in those communities who did not even vote in 2016, and are not habitual voters, to come out.
Now, we don't really have a lot of information about that second point. Some of these places are places that have not been voting- absentee and early- at a high rate, but you wouldn't necessarily expect that. You'd expect most of the people in these more rural communities to vote in-person on Election Day. The polling has suggested that it's going to be a challenge for him to get the same numbers out of some of these regions of the state that were so extraordinary in 2016.
I was just looking at some of the past voting trends of the state, and everything has changed so quickly that we forget what the old world looked like, but before the Trump election, the rural areas of Wisconsin were less Republican than the suburban areas of Wisconsin. They were incredibly competitive. That really changed dramatically in 2016 and it continued to be-- We saw it in 2018 to a certain extent. We're seeing it in the polling now, where the rural areas, the small towns are considerably more Republican- the way they're performing- than the suburbs.
Part of that is the Republican coalition shifting to small towns and these lightly-populated parts of the state just surging for Republicans, but part of it is losing ground in the suburbs as well.
Amy: Craig Gilbert is the Washington Bureau Chief for The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The best way to understand any election is to see it through the eyes of as many different kinds of voters as possible because you know what? There's no such thing as an average voter. My colleague, Tanzina Vega, Host of The Takeaway, has been doing this too. So, I invited her on the show this week to share some of her observations.
Tanzina Vega: Hi, Amy. How are you?
Amy: Well, I am good and I have enjoyed listening to your show, go through your series called A Votar, looking at Latino voters in the 2020 election. You've been doing this now for almost a month. What are some of your biggest takeaways from the conversations you've been having?
Tanzina: I guess that one of the biggest takeaways is this idea that this is a "sleeping-giant vote." We've heard that for so many decades. Every political cycle, it's like; will Latinos vote? Will they not? Will we awaken the sleeping giant? And there is no sleeping giant. The part of the reason why we're approaching it the way we are is because there's so many different faces and sides to the "Latino vote" that it would be unfair to approach this with that sort of lens, so we decided to break it apart.
So far, we've talked to Puerto Rican voters, we've talked about Cuban American voters and Venezuelan voters, and we talk to young Latino voters, in particular, who are now- represent a pretty significant part of the Latino electorate. If they turn out to the polls, it could be something to see how strong that vote tends to be.
I think the through-line here is really that there isn't a through-line. That when we say Latinos in the United States, that could mean somebody who's a recent immigrant. That could mean somebody who's been here for eight generations. There are very different political views, depending on who you talk to and where they are in the country.
Amy: I thought it was really interesting in your conversations you had with younger voters. I think this is when people talk about the sleeping giant. That is, in essence, what they're referring to; all of the younger Latinos who will be turning 18, or have turned 18 this year, and that number continues to grow.
What was your takeaway from speaking with them? They seemed somewhat optimistic and hopeful about the process, but they were also pretty aware of what the challenges still are ahead of them.
Tanzina: We talked to three young Latinos; two of whom are eligible to vote, one of whom is not because they are undocumented.
Juan: My name is Juan Mireles Palomar. I am a 22-year-old undocumented immigrant.
Antonio: My name is Antonio [unintelligible 00:42:18]. I'm 24, and I'm an MFA student at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Kelsey: Hi, my name is Kelsey Hernandez. I'm an 18-year-old Chicanx first-time voter.
Tanzina: All three of them are still very much involved in this political cycle, whether they are able to cast a ballot or not able to cast a ballot, and I found that just really interesting. I think part of it is, if we look back from the 2016 election until today, a little bit over three million Latinos have become eligible to vote.
These are just a very tiny percentage of that number, but that in the past three years, what we've seen in terms of natural disasters, in terms of climate change, in terms of the tone and the political rhetoric and how that's changed. Let's not forget that this is a President who began his presidential campaign by immediately calling out Mexicans who were coming across the border to the United States by insulting them.
President Trump: When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're sending people that have lots of problems. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists; they are not our friend, believe me.
Tanzina: This is the backdrop for which these young people have witnessed over the past three and a half years.
Antonio: The current administration right now has had rhetoric, has had policies that have directly affected us and the daily life on the border, and so that's the focus and why people are going out and hitting the voting poll.
Tanzina: I don't think this group has any other choice but to be politically engaged in some way, shape, or form. That's what we heard from these young people.
Kelsey: We've seen this racism and continued violence from authorities for so long. Now that we as the new generation; a lot of us are first-time voters, and now we're able to have our voices heard, especially in the Latino community, because many of our parents are undocumented. They never had the chance to have their voices heard, but now we do as their children.
Tanzina: We talked a lot about DACA and where that stands. That's something that President Trump tried to gut at one point, or said we wouldn't start to accept more DACA recipients, and yet they present a large percentage of the young Latino population. Then you also have people who are undocumented, as I mentioned earlier, who won't be able to cast a vote, but whose experience in the United States and whose parents' experience in the United States has been vastly changed over the course of the past three and a half years; in terms of increased surveillance and just fear.
Juan: As someone who can't vote, my biggest thing has always been to try and shed as much light on the issues as possible and have knowledge of the issues spread out to as many people as it can. I feel like many people who do vote don't think about the community who can't vote, which is, here in the United States, the undocumented community being 12 million people.
Tanzina: This is a very different landscape than what we saw just four years ago before this administration.
Amy: I know. You're totally right. Political science tells us that the era that you grew up in, like right around the time you came a voting age, that really shapes your opinions of politics throughout your entire life.
Tanzina: Right. I'm trying to remember what it felt like to be turning 18 and seeing all of this happen because I'm a Gen Xer, and seeing all the things happen around you [crosstalk]--
Amy: We're proud Gen Xers.
Tanzina: Yes, we are. We're proud Gen Xers. [chuckles] Always carry the mantle. Think about just how the things that we were growing up with and the things that I remember being confronted with were largely the era of mass incarceration and drug use in that era of Reagan, and Russia being the bad guy, but here the whole thing has been flipped on its head. I think a lot of young people today; more power to them. The fact that they haven't felt hopeless or not allowing hopelessness to take over. I think a lot of them feel like the only chance they have to do something is at the ballot box.
Amy: Tanzina Vega, this was so fun.
Tanzina: Thank you.
Amy: Thank you for taking this time.
Tanzina: Always a pleasure, Amy.
Amy: Tanzina Vega is Host of The Takeaway.
Amy: That's all for us today. Our Senior Producer is Amber Hall. Patricia Yacob and Lydia McMullan-Laird are our Associate Producers. Polly Irungu is our Digital Editor. David Gebel is our Executive Assistant. Jay Cowit is our Director and Sound Designer. Vince Fairchild is our Board Op and Engineer. Our Executive Producer is Lee Hill. Send us a tweet. I'm @amyewalter. The show is @TheTakeaway. Tanzina Vega is back on Monday.
Thanks so much for listening. This is Politics with Amy Walter on The Takeaway.
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