By Caroline Kubzansky
U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil says he’s “not concerned” about recent polls showing President Trump trailing presumptive Dem nominee Joe Biden because there are still four months before Election Day and the campaign is just starting to ramp up.
Steil, during a WisPolitics.com virtual luncheon, predicted a “compressed election cycle” due to the COVID-19 pandemic and civic unrest following the death of George Floyd.
“From a campaign standpoint, a lot of this has been really on hold as we faced the most challenging issues in front of us,” the Janesville Republican said. “The election will be in November. … It’s not today.”
He also said that Wisconsin televisions were still relatively clear of campaign ads, though he noted that will likely change “pretty darn soon” as Election Day approaches.
Steil’s assertion comes on the heels of the news that Dem super PAC Priorities USA made two ad buys this week slamming Trump on his handling of COVID-19. The Biden campaign also recently announced its first ad buy of the general, a $15 million campaign in Wisconsin and other battleground states.
Wisconsin’s battleground status was underscored this week with the visits of Trump and Vice President Pence. Pence made two stops in Waukesha County on Tuesday, and Trump toured the Fincantieri Marinette Marine on Thursday before hosting a town hall in Green Bay.
Polls following the Monday luncheon continued to show Biden leading Trump.
A Marquette University poll released Wednesday showed Biden up 8 points over Trump in Wisconsin, with 49 percent backing Biden and 41 percent saying they would vote for Trump. A New York Times poll released Thursday found Biden with an 11-point advantage over Trump in Wisconsin.
Steil pinned his confidence in a Trump rebound on an improving economy, an area where Trump’s numbers have suffered less. In the Marquette University poll, 50 percent said they approved of the president’s handling of the economy, while 46 percent disapproved. The spread last month was 54-40.
“I think that the proof is going to be in the pudding,” he said. “I think people are gonna say they want to return the economic strength that the United States had prior to the pandemic.”
Steil also said he didn’t think voters would be enthusiastic about Democrats’ economic vision and that continued passage of massive stimulus packages would be “catastrophic” for future generations.
“If Joe Biden was elected into office and Nancy Pelosi has a speaker’s gavel, I think we would have a really challenging economic future in the United States of America,” Steil said, noting a House-passed coronavirus relief measure that has been rejected by Republicans. “Just look at the $3 trillion bill that the House of Representatives passed.”
And while Steil said Wisconsinites don’t want to rely on the federal government for economic support, he also didn’t foresee cuts to Social Security or Medicaid.
“Those are promises we made and need to be kept,” he said.