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'Fatigue is a factor': Political exhaustion weighs on voters in rural Wisconsin

October 15, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

A Trump-Pence campaign placard is seen in Westby, Wisconsin, on October 3, 2020. - In western Wisconsin, where family-run dairy farms dot the rolling green hills and eagle-watchers peer into the sparkling marshland, signs for Donald Trump and Joe Biden stand directly across each other on neighbors' yards. In a polarized United States where Democrats and Republicans increasingly self-segregate, this stretch of the Upper Midwest alongside the Mississippi River looks as close as regions get -- and, if the November 3 vote is tight, it could prove pivotal for the whole election. (Photo by Kerem Yucel / AFP) (Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)

In an electorate that agrees on little, there is one thing that nearly every voter here in Southwest Wisconsin feels: Exhaustion.

That fatigue with politics, aimed primarily at President Donald Trump but also Democrats in Washington and the overall tone of discourse in America, is coursing through the minds of many voters in one of the most politically volatile parts of this swing state, where counties that voted for Barack Obama in 2012 swung substantially to Trump in 2016 before swinging back to Democrats and Gov. Tony Evers in 2018.

Even people who voted for Trump four years ago and top Republican operatives in the area told CNN that the chaos surrounding the President has left voters beleaguered weeks out from the 2020 election.

The Southwest corner of Wisconsin that borders that state's eponymous river is known as the Driftless Area, because its rolling hills avoided the grinding flattening that receding glaciers imposed on much of the Midwest at the end of the last Ice Age. The area has long, according to local candidates, been home to high concentrations of ticket splitters, people who may vote for Democrats atop the ticket, but back Republicans in local races.

The area was also central to Trump winning Wisconsin four years ago, helping the Republican run up sizable margins in rural counties that had previously backed Democrats.

"If Southwest Wisconsin looks more like an Obama map, it's going to be hard for the President to win," said Hitt.

Wikler, in a nod to that Vernon County billboard, labeled people like this the "had enough" voter -- "people who don't want politics to dominate their every waking moment," he said.

And although people like Bill Biefer, chair of the Grant County Republican Party, said excitement for the President remains high among his supporters, he admitted there are clear signs that some voters are just worn out with politics.

"It makes you feel like doomsday is coming," Murphy-Lopez said of the tenor Trump has struck in recent weeks.

Martin Adams, a 50-year old machinist in Grant County and one of those voters who met Murphy-Lopez at his door, illustrates how being fed up with politics is particularly hurting Trump in the area.

Adams voted third party in 2016 because he felt like there was little difference between the two candidates, but this time around, because of his opposition to Trump, he is going to vote for Biden despite "disliking everything about him. "

"There is a logjam in Washington, there is a logjam in Wisconsin and people feel quite hopeless," said the Democrat running to represent parts of Richland and Sauk counties in the state assembly.

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