Twenty-two Wisconsin counties voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and Donald Trump in 2016. Trump was the first Republican in 32 years to win Wisconsin, taking the state by less than one percentage point after Obama won it by 7 points in 2012.
Located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Trempealeau Rivers, Trempealeau County is a rural county of 29,000 people. Trump swung Trempealeau by 26 points. Arcadia, its largest city of 3,000 residents, has seen an influx of Latinos in recent years to do agricultural work and work at the Ashley Furniture headquarters. From 2000 to 2014, the percentage of Hispanics in Arcadia grew from 3 percent to 35 percent, and Latino businesses now line Main Street. Some journalists have portrayed Trump’s victory here as a reaction to these immigrant newcomers. But there’s a deeper story to be told.
Trump won dozens of counties in the Upper Mississippi River Valley that for decades had voted for Democrats for president. His victory here might have had as much to do with the direction of the Democratic Party and what its agenda offers rural voters as it did with Trump’s message.
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