In 2016, Waukesha County (along with the other WOW counties, Ozaukee and Waukesha) were the spearhead of the campaign to derail Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency. Wisconsin was “Never Trump,” and Republicans overwhelmingly chose Texas Senator Ted Cruz over the reality television star and hotel mogul.
Four years later, will “crucial Waukesha County” Republicans rally around President Trump’s re-election effort? Anecdotal evidence, Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times reports, suggests the GOP voters are coming home.
“But in about two dozen interviews over three days, many Republicans said that while they voted for Mr. Trump reluctantly in 2016, they no longer felt hesitant,” Tavernise wrote. “They pointed to the booming economy, Mr. Trump’s judicial appointments and the conservative stances he has adopted on cultural issues. They also brought up the actions of Democrats.”
Tavernise reached out to me for comment on Trump’s appeal in Waukesha and the effect of impeachment in unifying the GOP.
“In an odd way, this helps the president, at least in Wisconsin,” said James Wigderson, editor of RightWisconsin, a conservative website based in Waukesha. “Talking to people, listening to talk radio, judging from our readers, this is re-energizing them.”
Impeachment also seemed to help nudge moderate Republicans, who were never fans of Mr. Trump, in his direction.
“This really pulled a lot of Republicans off the fence,” Mr. Wigderson said of moderates. “Now it’s, ‘You’ve gone too far and we are going to defend this guy to the end.’”
The number of Republicans wanting to hear anything critical of the president has diminished, too.
“Every once in a while, I get an email from someone who says, ‘Thank goodness you are still criticizing Trump for his behavior,’” said Mr. Wigderson, who airs views critical of Mr. Trump on his website. “But those emails are coming in less and less.”
Tavernise also spoke with Dr. Charles Franklin, the director of the Marquette University Law School Poll, to get some numbers to support the idea that GOP voters coming home to support Trump.
Opinions in Wisconsin on impeachment have been dug in and virtually unchanged since the investigation began last fall, Mr. Franklin said. The one difference is that Republicans have been more unified in their opposition than Democrats have been in their support — by more than 10 percentage points in November and December.
Former RightWisconsin Editor Charlie Sykes, currently the editor of The Bulwark, pointed out the Democrats have a role to play in unifying the GOP.
The Democratic nominee is important, too. If it is Bernie Sanders, “they’d be saying, ‘Yes, Donald Trump is toxic, but I’m sorry, we are out of this if you are going full socialism,’” Mr. Sykes said.
The article also quotes a number of pro-Trump Republicans as well who would normally be harshly critical of the New York Times’ coverage of the president.