KENOSHA — President Trump’s visit to Kenosha County Tuesday will mark his second visit to this battleground county tucked into the southeast corner of Wisconsin along the state border.
His visit comes during an inflection moment in American politics: with the election two months away and the country torn over a pro-police vs pro-police reform debate.
Like many counties in Wisconsin, Kenosha is a swing county but it’s turning out to be a county to closely watch in 2020, with a population of 170,000.
Here’s why: President Trump won this county by 255 in 2016, in a state he carried by 23,000 votes. The margin of victory was slim, Trump 46.85% - Hillary Clinton 46.52%.
But two years later Tony Evers, the Democratic Governor would beat Republican incumbent Scott Walker with 50.65% of the vote in Kenosha County, a four-point win in 2018.
It’s also the same county Walker won in 2010 and 2014 and President Obama easily carried in 2012 with 55% of the vote. That’s the same year former House Speaker Paul Ryan was also on the ticket as Mitt Romney’s running mate. Ryan’s Congressional District included all of Kenosha County.
I’ll give you one more swing county statistic to think about. If you look at the last two state Supreme Court races - it was a split decision. Judge Jill Karofsky, the liberal-leaning candidate easily won Kenosha in 2020 with 57% of the vote. One year earlier, Brian Hagedorn, the conservative backed candidate won with 51.5%.
Notice a clear pattern here? There really isn’t one. But it does speak to why President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are laser-focused on Kenosha County.
There are not enough votes in this county to turn the state red or blue in November. More votes and issues remain in Wisconsin’s 71 other counties to be considered. But for now, the nation has turned its attention on what’s happening in Kenosha County and what it might mean for the rest of the nation.