At the beginning of the 2020 presidential election cycle, Wisconsin seemed like a looming Battle of Gettysburg, the decisive struggle that could determine if President Donald Trump will be re-elected. As the campaign winds down, it looks more like Wisconsin will have the significance of the fight over Utah during the Civil War.

It doesn’t seem that way judging from the attention Wisconsin is getting from the Trump family, including the president himself. The president will be speaking in Janesville, WI, on Saturday, an area of the state still recovering from the closing of the General Motors plant there.

The president was scheduled to have a rally there before he was diagnosed with Covid-19. Now that he’s allegedly cured, he’s following through on the visit that was planned for there after the mayor of La Crosse asked that the campaign stay away due to concerns about the spread of Covid-19.

However, that may be a last gasp as the Trump campaign begins to focus on more viable paths to an Electoral College majority that don’t include the Dairy State.

An inside look at the Trump campaign by Jonathan Swan of Axios indicates the president needs to win Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Iowa and Maine’s second congressional district for any of three different scenarios to work:

One: Trump needs to win Arizona, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

Two: Trump needs to win Arizona, North Carolina and Michigan.

Three: Trump needs to win North Carolina, Michigan and Nevada.

As the Axios report indicates, none of those paths to victory will be easy for the president at this point. “Three senior Trump advisers who recently talked to campaign manager Bill Stepien walked away believing he thinks they will lose,” Swan reported.

And none of the paths to victory include Wisconsin or Minnesota.

One sign that Wisconsin is off the Trump Electoral College map is the comparative spending.

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting, former Vice President Joe Biden and groups supporting Biden are currently outspending Trump and groups aligned with him by a 2 to 1 margin in Wisconsin. “That advantage grows to around 5-to-1 when comparing spending by just the two candidates alone,” the newspaper is reporting.

Part of that difference in spending can be explained by the Biden campaign attempting to run up the margin in the Madison market by spending $3.8 million to roughly $500,000 for the Trump campaign, according to the Journal Sentinel.

However, WisPolitics.com reports that the Trump campaign is getting badly outspent in the Green Bay market area.

“For example, the Advertising Analytics data shows Biden and his backers spent $10.7 million in the Green Bay market between April 8 and Oct. 2, compared to $6.7 million by Trump and his allies,” WisPolitics reported. “And Biden’s advantage isn’t letting up. In the Green Bay area, the candidate and Democratic groups are scheduled to outspend the other side better than 3-to-1 over the final month of the race.”

What Trump spending is going on in Wisconsin is being criticized internally in the campaign. “One campaign adviser pointed to a ‘half-assed’ advertising buy in Wisconsin this week,” reported Swan. “Around $130,000 according to Advertising Analytics data, which two campaign sources said seemed pointless given it’s too small to move the needle.”

The spending in Wisconsin, according to Swan, is likely more about appeasing the boss. “But {campaign manager Bill} Stepien’s dilemma, as described by several advisers, is that Trump would inevitably blow up at him if he were to read newspaper stories that he was going off the air in a Rust Belt battleground,” reported Swan.

The available polling indicates why the Trump campaign may be giving up on Wisconsin. The most recent Siena College/New York Times poll (October 8-11) showed Biden leading Trump 51% to 41% among likely voters. The Ipsos Poll (October 6-11) showed Biden leading Trump 52% to 45% among likely voters.

The Marquette University Law School Poll, the poll most familiar to Wisconsin readers and the “gold standard” of polling in Wisconsin, has consistently shown Biden leading Trump.

Poll DatesNetDem-RepJoe BidenDonald Trump
5/3-7/2044945
6/14-18/2065044
8/4-9/2054944
8/30-9/3/2044743
9/30-10/4/2054641
From the Marquette University Law School Poll

The consistency of the Marquette Poll, along with the results of the other polls, would indicate that we’re unlikely to see much movement in the electorate between now and Election Day. That’s especially true given the high volume of absentee ballots.

After Trump’s dramatic win in 2016, it’s easy to forget that the last time a Republican presidential campaign won Wisconsin was 1984 when President Ronald Reagan defeated former Vice President Walter Mondale in a 49-state landslide.

That’s not to say Trump is definitely going to lose Wisconsin. We’re still just over two weeks away from Election Day. As we saw in 2016, we can still see dramatic changes in the race between the last polls and the day of the election.

But it does explain why his campaign would decide to spend their resources elsewhere, even if Trump himself is clinging to the Rust Belt like Hitler clinging to Stalingrad.

Unlike 2016, the Democrats are not neglecting Wisconsin. Trump’s campaign will not take them by surprise this time. If there is a path to victory for the president, it’s likely to be elsewhere.