Trump’s Answer to Losing the Rust Belt: Minnesota

Writing for the ultra-conservative Federalist, Stewart Lawrence all but admits that, when it comes to the 2020 election, Trump is in trouble in the Rust Belt states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—the three that put him over the top in 2016. But not to worry, Lawrence has a solution.

Thanks to the success of Trump’s policies and other fortuitous developments, several other blue-trending states are certain to be in play in 2020.

Of these, none is more important than Minnesota. Its 10 electoral votes alone could offset a possible Rust Belt loss. The mainstream media has barely covered Trump’s remarkable gains in Minnesota, a state that historically is the bluest of the blue.

Apparently, the president agrees.

Lawrence goes into a little more detail about what is happening in Minnesota that has conservatives convinced that Trump could win the state. First, he mentions the booming economy, with an unemployment rate of 3.3 percent. Of course, that doesn’t tell the whole story, as Pete Kotz notes.

Our little northern outpost has been doing better than most for decades, precisely because we do what Trump does not: invest in education, health, public services, and wildlands. If you need a lesson in what Trumpism can do to a state, look no further than Wisconsin, which trails Minnesota in every meaningful economic category.

The one thing Trump has done that could directly impact Minnesota’s economy was to expand a major copper and nickel mining operation in a way that could affect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Lawrence seems to think that something the president’s administration did last month is responsible for Minnesota’s booming economy, even though, as Kotz suggests, it has been one of the strongest in the country for years. He also thinks that this move to expand the mining operation will help Trump, even though polling suggests that 70 percent of the state’s residents oppose it.

Some of us remember that Trump made one trip to Minnesota in 2016 and it came just two days before the election. It was clear that the only reason for the rally was to rile up his base against Muslim immigrants to this country.

Donald Trump on Sunday warned darkly of the danger posed by Somali migrants in Minneapolis, a deeply segregated city that has the largest Somali-American community in the US.

“Here in Minnesota, you’ve seen first-hand the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with very large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state without your knowledge, without your support or approval,” the Republican nominee told a rally in the solidly Democratic state, two days before the presidential election.

He then claimed: “Some of them [are] joining Isis and spreading their extremist views all over our country and all over the world.”

“Everybody’s reading about the disaster taking place in Minnesota,” he added, before claiming, falsely: “You don’t even have the right to talk about it.”

In other words, the attacks on Representative Ilhan Omar, whose family fled Somalia when she was a child, are nothing new to the residents of Minnesota. But for both Trump and Lawrence, fanning the flames of fear and hate is a winning strategy.

What neither the president nor his fan club at the Federalist want you to know is that Trump’s approval rating is deeply underwater in Minnesota. According to Morning Consult, his net approval rating is -16 percent. Compare that to the Rust Belt states where Lawrence admits the president might be in trouble.

Wisconsin: -14 percent
Michigan: -15 percent
Pennsylvania: -9 percent

It is way too early to make any solid predictions about which presidential candidate will win Minnesota’s ten electoral votes. But in the spirit of being helpful, I’ll give Lawrence a tip: if Trump loses Wisconsin, he doesn’t have a prayer of winning Minnesota.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.