A republican test

Political Beat

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Donald Trump has scrambled traditional political thinking in Wisconsin, providing challenges for Republican leaders.

Trump has high negative ratings among multiple groups of voters, based on results from several polls conducted by the Marquette University Law School.


The Republican Party has been strongest in the suburban counties west and north of Milwaukee. But the polls show 72 percent of suburban voters have negative feelings about Trump, who will be the Republican presidential candidate this fall.

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Popular conservative talk radio shows in Milwaukee have provided Republican support in previous election campaigns, but the talk show personalities have uneasiness with Trump’s unclear conservatism.

The Trump campaign contends the Wisconsin poll numbers will change as the campaign heats up. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front runner, also has substantial negatives, although not as high as those for Trump.

Erosion of support in suburban Milwaukee can be offset in the arc running from La Crosse across northern Wisconsin to Green Bay, according to Trump’s campaign. It’s the broad area in which Trump did best during the April primary in Wisconsin.

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The areas in the west and north sometimes are dubbed the “resentment” parts of Wisconsin. Hard economic times have pinched many in these areas. The paper industry has seen the demand for some of its products erode. Plunging ore prices have scuttled talk of a major mining operation Up North. The populations are getting older. There is no major influx of the young. Rural folks increasingly suggest they are getting the short end of government programs.

Pundits say Trump at the head of the GOP ticket could be a drag on congressional and legislative elections on the ballot.

-Matt Pommer is the “dean” of Capitol correspondents in Madison. His column is published with permission from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, but does not reflect the view or opinions of the WNA or its member newspapers.

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