A Republican strategist said the GOP believes the race for president in Wisconsin is closer than polls show, while a Democratic strategist said it appears Wisconsin is ready to “fire” President Trump.
“The intensity that is felt on the Republican side for President Trump is very, very strong,” said Brian Reisinger, president of Platform Communications and a veteran of Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s campaign.
Reisinger said Trump has unified the Republican Party.
But Democratic strategist Joe Zepecki said enthusiasm also is running high among Wisconsin Democrats for nominee Joe Biden.
“Democrats are enthused and fired up, and Donald Trump is getting fewer Democrats than Joe Biden is Republicans, and Joe Biden appears to be winning independents. It looks to me like Wisconsin and the American people have decided to fire President Trump,” said Zepecki, founder of Zepecki Communications and a veteran of President Obama’s campaign.
Both strategists appeared Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.
“UpFront” host Adrienne Pedersen asked which parts of the state they will be watching closely as election returns come in Tuesday night.
Zepecki said he will be watching the suburbs, where polls show Trump has been struggling, as well as the counties in northeastern Wisconsin.
He said counties in the northeast have traditionally been very strong for Republicans, but if Biden can get 43 percent to 45 percent of the vote in the region, that “makes it hard for Trump to win statewide.”
Reisinger said he also will be watching the suburbs — the counties of Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington that have traditionally voted heavily Republican — but also rural parts of the state, which went strongly for Trump in 2016.
“The Republican recipe is to make sure that Republicans don’t let Democrats eat further into the suburbs,” Reisinger said. “But it’s also about making sure that strong, rural Republican coalition overperforms.”
Pedersen also asked the strategists for their predictions about who would win Wisconsin.
Trump captured Wisconsin in 2016, the first Republican presidential candidate to do so since 1984.
Zepecki said that when all ballots are counted, he thinks Biden will have won the state by “more than a couple of points.”
Reisinger said predictions are dangerous, but Trump “has a clear path here” if he is able to maximize rural votes and hold down Democratic margins in the suburbs.
Also on the program, Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe estimated that more than 3 million state voters will have participated in the general election by the time all ballots have been counted.
Wolfe said local elections clerks are prepared to count a huge number of ballots, from both in-person voting and absentee ballots returned by mail.
She said 1.9 million absentee ballots were issued to voters this fall.
“We have been working with (local clerks) all year to make sure that they are prepared for that new voter behavior, and I really think we’re going to see a smooth Election Day at the polls on Tuesday,” Wolfe said.
Pedersen asked her about security at the polls this year.
“Our local election officials have been preparing for cybersecurity events, physical security events, for years and preparing contingency plans, practicing those contingency plans, so that they would know what to do if something did happen at their polls, how they would engage their law enforcement to respond quickly,” Wolfe said.