MILWAUKEE — Barack Obama did the unthinkable in his 2008 presidential bid, causing voters to flock to cement a “Blue Wall,” with decisive victories in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Now, 14 years later, Democrats are desperate to capture even a touch of Obama magic if they want to hold the U.S. Senate on Nov. 8 and ensure that certain governorships on battlefields remain in Democratic hands even when locked up. in one dead heat race after another.
“Barack Obama is still the most popular figure in the Democratic Party and the most credible messenger right now, especially as we try to remind Democratic Democratic voters what’s at stake in this election,” said Sachin Chheda, a Democratic presidential Democrat. strategist from Wisconsin. .
On Saturday, the former president drove crowds in Milwaukee and Detroit, being part statesman and sometimes part stand-up comedian, berating Republicans scornfully at what he described as their extremism and contradictions.
Hundreds of people flocked to North Division High School in Milwaukee, hoping to get a glimpse of Obama as he gathered for all the candidates across the state, including the state selection races: Mandela Barnes for Senate and Re-election Governor Tony Evers.
He sharply criticized Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson for handing over tax breaks to donors who took advantage of them, while suggesting that Medicare and Social Security funding should be re-examined each year.
Obama pinned Johnson for helping usher in tax breaks for private planes, noting are grown children own “not one, not two, but three private planes – because apparently carpooling wasn’t an option,” he said with a laugh.
He then became fiery, screaming as the crowd cheered and whistled, saying Johnson understood that private jet tax breaks “more than he understands that seniors who have worked all their lives are able to retire with dignity and respect.”
In Detroit, Obama similarly attacked Republicans, saying that the party had failed to live up to basic standards of democracy. At one point, Obama was interrupted by a protester who tried to yell over him.
“Look, listen – hey, hold on, hold on – hold on, hold on! This is – listen up – hey, all of you out there, pay attention,” Obama told the protester. “Not only is this an example of what I’m talking about, but it’s also an example of how we get distracted… We get distracted instead of focusing on what’s important.”
In both Wisconsin and Michigan, Obama discussed reproductive rights for women.
“Who will fight for your freedom in Michigan? Is it a bunch of Republican politicians and judges who feel they should decide when to start a family or how many children you have, who to marry or love? Or is it leaders like Gretchen Whitmer who believe that the freedom to make these personal decisions belongs to every American, not politicians in Washington?”
Michigan governor faces reelection bid from Republican challenger Tudor Dixon.
Obama dominated Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania in 2008 and 2012, only for Donald Trump to conquer those same states in 2016. In 2020, President Joe Biden recaptured the states, but by the narrowest margins, winning Wisconsin by less than one, for example. percentage point. Today, Biden still struggles with a lack of benevolence, as evidenced by his absence from battlefields like Wisconsin.
The crumbling of that “Blue Wall” in 2022 will impact a presidential contest in just two years, as Republicans take power in top offices across the state in critical states, especially if election results come into question.
“Only two counties returned to Biden after Trump in 2016, Sauk and Door,” said Marquette Law School poll chief Charles Franklin. “Turnout in Milwaukee in the midterm elections is often much lower than in the presidential years, so Democrats want to maximize turnout there, hence Obama’s visit.”
Wisconsin Democratic Party chairman Ben Wikler told the Milwaukee high school crowd Saturday night to remember that four of the last six presidential elections had fallen to less than a percentage point.
“The other two were Obama landslides,” Wikler told an exuberant crowd. “These elections are tied. The governor’s race is equal. The attorney general’s race is equal. The Senate race is even. That means you can tip the balance.”
Barnes said watching Obama as then-state senator from neighboring Illinois deliver a rousing speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention changed his life.
“When I saw Barack Obama on that podium, it inspired me and it made me realize that maybe I can have the power to make a difference if I worked hard enough,” said Barnes.
In comments on Saturday, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, said that while Obama is not in the ballot on Nov. 8, issues and policies he fought for, such as health care, play a role in the electoral questions that voters in Wisconsin have asked. will eventually answer.
“If Wisconsinites vote in this election,” Kaul said, “we win.”