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In 3 big states, Biden looks to rebuild Democrats’ Blue Wall

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AP
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In 2016, Donald Trump tore down Democrats’ “blue wall,” winning the White House with surprise victories in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

This year, Joe Biden is trying to rebuild.

The Democratic presidential nominee’s first pandemic-era campaign trips beyond his home in Delaware are taking him to all three states, an indication of how closely Biden’s electoral prospects are tied to his ability to flip those political battlegrounds.

Last week, Biden traveled to Wisconsin and was followed quickly by running mate Kamala Harris, who held her own events there on Labor Day. On Wednesday, Biden heads to Michigan to tout a plan for boosting U.S. manufacturing. He also has two stops scheduled this week in Pennsylvania.

Though the Biden campaign often emphasizes that it sees multiple ways to secure the 270 Electoral College votes it needs to win in November, the quickest path runs through Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“If Biden wins any of them — but particularly any two, with some of the other states that are in play — it’s pretty impossible for Trump to win the Electoral College,” said veteran Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. “It makes tremendous sense to make those three states the base foundation of any strategy to win. If Biden wins all three, it’s over.”

Biden’s aides believe his focus on the economy and Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic will resonate with key voters nationwide but particularly in states like Michigan, which took one of the sharpest hits nationally from the pandemic.

The unemployment rate in the state spiked at 24% in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The statewide rate has since recovered to 8.7%, but Michigan has nearly 414,500 fewer jobs than it did when Trump was inaugurated.

Trump supporters say he has fulfilled his promise of creating jobs and was temporarily sidetracked by the pandemic. But the jobs numbers show that hiring at factories across the Midwest — including in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin — began to stall and then decline in the summer of 2019. The Biden campaign sees an opening there to argue that, even before the pandemic, the president failed some of his most loyal blue-collar backers.

Trump won Michigan by the narrowest margin of any state in 2016 — fewer than 11,000 votes — and Democrats made huge gains there in the midterms, winning every major statewide office and a handful of federal seats as well. Polls conducted earlier in the summer suggested a Biden advantage there. Polls conducted in Michigan throughout the 2016 campaign showed Hillary Clinton with a lead before Trump went on to win.

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