Wisconsin Voters Moving to Trump After 'Peaceful Protests' Turn Violent in Kenosha

When Trump talks Law & Order, some Wisconsin voters listen

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Texas Insider Report) — Alexis Arnold is white, 44-year-old art gallery owner in Wisconsin who says she's sympathetic toward protesters that peacefully protest – but she's seen her anxiety increase as the "peaceful protests" spread across America and spiral into ever greater levels of violence, lawlessness and destruction. 

Arnold voted for Hillary Clinton four years ago, but she hasn’t been unhappy with President Donald Trump's record. She thinks he's trying to look out for businesses like hers, and she's heard positive things about his criminal justice reform bill.

While she says she's still mulling over her choice, it seems daunting to her to switch leaders at a time when she believes everyone is “stretched so thin.”

That uncertainty is drawing her to whatever stability President Trump can offer, as he's spent weeks pushing questions of safety and security to the forefront of the presidential campaign.

And after protests became violent in Kenosha, Wisconsin, there are signs other Wisconsin voters are listening.

“I was always a person who never liked rules – but when I see a bunch of punks burning stuff, it drives me nuts,” said Adam Murphy, 38, of Little Suamico, Wisconsin, who plans to vote for Trump. “I’m like, ‘Where do you find the time?’ I’m at work every day and then I got to get my rest and then on the weekends I try to enjoy myself."

That sentiment could prove decisive in Wisconsin, a state that put Trump in the White House after he carried it by less than 1% in 2016.

Following 90+ days of increasing violence in Portland, Oregon – and after an incredible amount of destruction and lawlessness in Kenosha, Wisconsin where he travelled to earlier this week, President has Trump has begun to issue warnings of even greater destruction on American streets should his Democrat rival Joe Biden win November's Election.

His Democrat rival finally began condemning the violence after focus group and polling showed Americans moving rapidly to Trump over the issue.
 
“The public just needs something to make them feel comfortable and safe again," said Arnold, who's voted for Democrats in the past, and is raising a biracial daughter.

“I'd almost rather see Trump stay and try to resolve it, than bringing somebody in new,” she said.

The images of unrest in Kenosha – of protesters burning businesses on mainstreet, running rampant and destroying innocent poeple's hard-earned property while clashing with police – are intensifying the partisan divide in Wisconsin. Democrats see racism and fear-mongering in Trump's messages, and Republicans are now unwaveringly supportive – even those who initially cringed at Trump's style on other issues.

And some of the rare voters who've remained unsure of their choice now said they've felt drawn to Trump during this moment rioting – a warning sign for Biden and Democrats, who have tried to make the election a clear referendum on Trump and his handling of the coronavirus.

As part of that strategy, Biden has all but shunned in-person campaigning so far – raising questions about his ability to carry the load of the presidency – and has instead kept a surprisingly low profile.

While his campaign says that will soon change change, the approach has left some voters who haven't ruled out Trump hazy on where Biden stands on criminal justice, a vacuum quickly filled with speculation.

“They haven't done anything to stop it,” said Rick Demro, a 60-year-old retired commander with Green Bay police department of the state's Democrat leaders.

“You don't see them back up law enforcement, they're quick to cast judgment before they facts come out, and I think all that does is promote the rioting instead of trying to quell it," he said.

"Part of me says, it's to help them for the campaign purposes.”

Demro said he's particularly angered by professional athletes and organizations speaking out against police brutality — including his beloved Green Bay Packers. He hasn't missed a home game since the early 1980s, and waited for 30 years to get his season tickets.

But this week, he talked to his wife about giving them up in protest. (She refused, he said, because she wants to pass them down to their children.)

Demro's among the Trump supporters who say they do see problems in policing. When he watched the video of a Minneapolis police officer pinning George Floyd to the ground in May, he said the incident triggered a new feeling for racial justice because he knew it was “wrong.”

But there's evidence to suggest that events in the months since have taken a toll on public support for protesters in the state.

Mike Guerts is a wavering Trump voter and 55-year-old mail worker from Madison, who said he doesn't yet know enough about Biden to feel comfortable. “I've been a lifelong Republican," he said while noting that police brutality is a problem. “But that doesn't excuse the lawlessness.”

Instead, he saw Democrats and their celebrity allies as stoking the unrest.

Driving supporters to the polls is critical for Biden. That means winning over voters like Brittaney Leake, a 27-year-old support staff worker at a group home and a mom of three, with another on the way. Leake says she didn't vote in 2016 because she's disillusioned with what she see as politicians' unfulfilled promises, and Biden hasn't given her a reason to change, she said.

“Just because he's a Democrat doesn't mean he has my vote,” said Leake. “If I can't specifically see what he's going to do for a change, I'm not going to vote for him... There has to be action.”

To win Wisconsin, Trump must run up the score in conservative-leaning suburbs and exurbs across the state, as well as in the working-class areas where trade union's allegiance to Democrats has faded while the pull toward more conservative cultural issues has grown. Trump dominated in Green Bay's Brown County in 2016 – winning there by 11% – but in a surprising surge of Democrat turnout the area supported a Democrat-backed Supreme Court Justice during a contentious election earlier this spring.

“I think we're all just kind of worn out. And, we just want to get back to somewhat of a normal life," concluded gallery owner Arnold.
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