In Wisconsin, a battleground state won by President Biden in 2020 and Donald Trump four years earlier, politicians from both sides of the aisle are trying hard to convince millions of voters worried about crime that they can keep them safe. With the midterm elections looming, Republicans are inundating the state’s airwaves with images of burning buildings, boarded-up stores and chanting protesters, the Washington Post reports. Crime and racial justice were front and center in 2020, as well. This year, public safety is part of a Republican message that the U.S. has fallen into chaos under Democratic rule, from soaring prices to out-of-control schools to surging immigration.
“Crime is a page in the playbook — it’s not a playbook by itself,” said one Republican strategist. “The argument in Wisconsin is that the status quo isn’t going so well, but it’s got to be part of a broader argument that, under Biden and [Democratic Gov. Tony] Evers, our way of life has been falling apart. You can’t pay your bills anymore. You don’t know what your kids are going to be learning in school. You don’t know if your community is going to be safe.” That has left Democrats divided over how much to emphasize their own police-friendly credentials and how much to stick to the racial justice movement that erupted anew in 2020. Evers has funneled more than $56 million in federal funds to law enforcement. Rep. David Bowen, a Democratic state legislator who represents Milwaukee and is running for lieutenant governor, warned that the many people who marched against police brutality “all over Wisconsin, even in some of our smallest, rural towns” have not gone away. He worried that moving too quickly away from police accountability would sour voters on Democrats who promised change. A Marquette University poll showed that crime was among Wisconsin voters’ top concerns. Some 56 percent — the highest figure since 2020 — felt that their state was on the wrong track, a sense of unease that Republicans hope will color voters’ perceptions of Democrats in power.