Platform CEO Keith Gilkes joins bipartisan chorus of experts to provide analysis on the state’s crucial role as a bellwether for the Midwest in the competition for the presidency
[Madison, Wis.] – In case you missed it, Platform Communications President & CEO Keith Gilkes recently joined a bipartisan group of experts to provide expertise on the integral role that Wisconsin is poised to play as a battleground state for the 2020 elections. Drawing on his experience as a top advisor for Governor Walker and Republican gubernatorial candidates across the country, Gilkes lays out how Wisconsin’s electorate is up for grabs for 2020 office-seekers.
You can read more here or find excerpts below:
Wisconsin already expected to be a war zone for the 2020 presidential race
By Craig Gilbert
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
It has been more than a decade since Wisconsin was the white-hot epicenter of a red-hot presidential race.
But that’s precisely the scenario that looms two years from now.
“I think Wisconsin is going to be one of the most important (battlegrounds), and kind of a bellwether for the rest of the Midwest in the competition for the presidency,” said GOP strategist Keith Gilkes, a longtime adviser to Gov. Scott Walker.
Almost everything about the Nov. 6 midterm election bolstered Wisconsin’s status as a top presidential target in 2020, when this state has no race for governor or U.S. Senate but can expect an all-out war over its 10 electoral votes.
The state swung back to Democrats for governor and U.S. Senate after Republican Donald Trump carried Wisconsin for president two years ago.
But Democrats failed to dent the GOP’s stranglehold on the state Legislature, and they won the governor’s race by scarcely more than a percentage point.
For Republicans, Walker’s defeat was a reminder that no matter how well the GOP does with rural voters, it can ill afford to lose ground in the suburbs when it’s being blown out in the big cities.
One GOP pollster called the suburbs a national “killing ground” for Republicans in 2018.
“What Trump demonstrated in 2016 is a unique way of winning Wisconsin — driving up the rural vote overall, with an agenda and message that responded to their values and concerns over those of suburban and urban voters,” said Gilkes. “The challenge for Trump is you can’t just exclusively rely on rural voters.”
Democratic strategist Tanya Bjork said her party has taken to heart the failure of the Clinton campaign to visit Wisconsin or put much effort into Wisconsin or Michigan in 2016.
“I would expect the Democratic nominee and hopefully the Democratic Party has learned their lesson that you can’t ignore your firewall,” said Bjork, who ran the Clinton effort in Wisconsin and pushed unsuccessfully, she says, for more resources from the national campaign.
“Scott Walker did even better in rural areas than we ever imagined or thought we could,” said Gilkes.
Despite an unfavorable climate for his party this year, Walker’s support in “Trump Country” came just shy of re-electing him.
The lesson of Wisconsin’s recent political history is that both parties pursue a “base-only” strategy at their peril.