26/09/2022

There’s an important and largely overlooked subplot to the Republican National Convention — call it the Republican Battleground States Convention.

Theres an important and largely overlooked subplot to the Republican National Convention call it the Republican Battleground States Convention.
The GOP has gone all out to elevate the voices of Cuban-Americans in Florida, small business owners in Wisconsin and farmers in Iowa during the conventions first three nights.
All three states are competitive in November and Florida, the largest battleground of all, is close to a must-win for President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: GOP seeks to detoxify Trump at conventionHarris honors Women’s Equality Day in op-ed, calls for voting reformTrump breaks with precedent on second night of conventionMORE.
National media coverage of the convention has so far focused on the efforts to humanize Trump and defend him from charges of racism, or the ramping up of culture war rhetoric. But the tailored appeals to voters in key states could be just as important.
On Wednesday, Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOvernight Defense: House panel probes Pompeo’s convention speech | UN council rejects US demand to restore Iran sanctions | Court rules against Pentagon policy slowing expedited citizenshipBiden-Harris ad calls to ‘Heal America’ amid Republican conventionThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Biden says he’s open to serving two terms; GOP convention beginsMORE (R-Iowa) was the most high profile example. Her speech about the destruction wreaked in her state by an Aug. 10 storm known as a derecho included denunciations of the media and praise for Trump.
If you dont live in Iowa, you may not have heard much about it at first, Ernst said. While reporters here in the state were in the trenches covering the equivalent of a Category Two hurricane, most of the national media looked the other way. To them, Iowa is still just flyover country.
Ernst added that when Trump visited Cedar Rapids, the national media finally did too.
Trump won Iowa by about nine points in 2016, but polling shows a tight race there this year. He has a lead of less than two points in the RealClearPolitics (RCP) polling average in the state, which backed former President Obama in both 2008 and 2012. 
Ernst is herself in a dogfight for reelection against Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield. Its one of the races that is likely to decide control of the Senate.
The night prior to Ernsts speech, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) addressed the convention, insisting that Trump had our back amid the states recent troubles. 
The Aug. 10 derecho left an estimated 300,000 people without power and is estimated to have damaged more than 40 percent of the states crucial soybean and corn crops.
Important as Iowa could prove to be in a tight election, it is dwarfed in size and significance by Florida. The winner in the Sunshine State will harvest 29 electoral college votes compared to Iowas six. 
Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris honors Women’s Equality Day in op-ed, calls for voting reformTrump breaks with precedent on second night of conventionMelania Trump casts president as champion for American familiesMORE is leading by just under four points in the RCP average in Florida. Trumps path to reelection will be vanishingly narrow unless he can win there.
Cuban-Americans are a vital constituency in Florida. There are more than one million Cuban-Americans in the state, the vast majority of whom either themselves fled the Caribbean island after the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power, or are descended from those who did so. 
Cuban-Americans typically cast around six percent of all votes in Florida a state that has been decided by three points or less in the three most recent presidential elections.
Cuban emigrés have traditionally leaned heavily Republican, unlike most other Latino groups. There are signs this is changing in younger generations, but exit polls suggest Trump won a majority of the Cuban-American vote in Florida in 2016.
The convention has encompassed concerted efforts to hold onto that edge; Castro got primetime mentions on both Monday and Tuesday an accomplishment, of sorts, for a leader of a nation of 12 million people who died in 2016.
I heard the promises of Fidel Castro. And I can never forget all those who grew up around me, who looked like me, who could have been me, who suffered and starved and died because they believed those empty promises, Cuban-American businessman Maximo Alvarez said on Monday.
Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez (R) followed up on Tuesday, saying, My story began in 1959, before I was born, when my parents dreams of a prosperous life became a nightmare. Chaos spread quickly when Fidel Castro took control of Cuba.
Alvarez and Nuñez both sought to tie Biden and the Democratic Party to Castro. Its quite a stretch, given Bidens centrism and Castros communism. Other voices in the Cuban-American community have suggested that it is Trumps strongman tendencies that more closely mimic the posturing of a caudillo such as Castro. 
Wisconsin is a long way geographically and culturally from Miamis Little Havana, but it has received more than its fair share of attention during the convention, too.
Tuesday evenings program featured separate appearances from a dairy farmer and a business owner in the state. The former, Cris Peterson, insisted that Trump more than any president has acknowledged the importance of farmers and agriculture. Another Wisconsin business owner, Debbie Flood, is expected to address the convention on its final night.
Trump won Wisconsin by less than one percentage point, or about 23,000 votes, in 2016. It was one of the three traditionally Democratic blue wall states, along with Michigan and Pennsylvania, that he broke down on his way to the White House. He lags by more than three points there in the RCP average.
Other battleground states have also been catered to during the convention. The presidents daughter-in-law, Lara TrumpLara Lea TrumpTrump campaign unveils Republican National Convention speakersLara Trump: GOP convention will show ‘a very different depiction of America’Harris pick reignites fight for female votersMORE, emphasized her North Carolina roots on Wednesday, an evening that also featured a speech from Madison Cawthorn, who is running for a House seat in the Tar Heel State.
None of the efforts are guaranteed to work, of course. Trump is lagging across the battleground states. The same factors that have pulled his approval ratings down nationwide, in particular his response to the coronavirus pandemic, are as germane there as anywhere else.
Trump has also sometimes seemed to trample all over the careful calculus required to eke out a victory in the crucial states, whether tweeting he might hold up funding to Michigan or suggesting and then walking back  the idea of a meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, a controversial figure with many Latino voters in Florida.
Still, the GOP is using its convention to do everything it can to bring those key-state voters on board.
Whether they prove receptive to the party’s appeals is another matter.
The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage, primarily focused on Donald Trumps presidency.