Wisconsin has been a hotbed of political activity ahead of the November mid-term elections, especially with the legal happenings over a controversial voter ID law. Midterms have been typically under-attended by Black voters during the cycle, but President Barack Obama was able to stir up measurable interest after appearing in Milwaukee on Tuesday.
President Obama has not hit the campaign trail hard for Democrats during this midterm cycle, partly due to candidates distancing themselves amid a lowering presidential approval rating. However, Milwaukee has been kind to the President in the past. With a tight race between gubernatorial candidate and Democrat Mary Burke and current Republican governor Scott Walker, Obama’s appearance seemingly gave a boost to Burke’s efforts.
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“The President was the only one who could get me out here,” said Gloria Malone, a 50-year old home health care worker. “Before that, I was like, The hell with Mary Burke!”
Malone was pressed against more than 3,300 people who’d come to Milwaukee’s North Division High School to see Barack Obama make one of his few 2014 campaign trail stops. Like most of the crowd, she was African American, and had backed the President every time he appeared on the ballot. She was well aware that less-unpopular surrogates, like First Lady Michelle Obama, had trekked to the state even though gubernatorial candidate Burke has avoided nationalizing her race.
Then the presidential visit was announced, and Malone cast an early vote for Burke against Republican Governor Scott Walker, who Burke has fought to a tie in the polls.
“It’s important to see her up there with our president,” said Malone. “We’re running Walker down. The Republicans lost this election when they tried to stop Black people from voting.”
According to the Democrats, the defeat of Walker can be achieved if Milwaukee voters side with Burke during the early voting period and on Election Day. There have been some reports that people began to file out of the auditorium when President Obama began to speak, which seems to be an exaggerated account by media on the Right and detractors in general.
Overall, it appears that Obama’s appearance at North Division was met with approval and delight, hopefully galvanizing voters on the ground as Election Day looms.