Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced her candidacy today in a Minnesota snowstorm, becoming the fourth woman Senator to join the race for 2020. Unfortunately she seemed to kick off her campaign with a dig at Hillary Clinton:
"I think we're starting in Wisconsin because as you remember there wasn't a lot of campaigning in Wisconsin in 2016. With me, that changes."
It has become some kind of accepted excuse that Hillary’s narrow loss in Wisconsin was the fault of her not visiting the state just before the election. Colbert jokes about it, SNL jokes about it, it has settled as the one thing people seem to grasp went wrong in a confusing election that had more Russian bots than voters.
But the reality is, it was already a state with rampant voter suppression tilted against Democratic voters. Ari Berman, author of Give Us the Ballot, destroyed this facile excuse in Mother Jones. This is from Milwaukee’s election director:
“I would estimate that 25 to 35 percent of the 41,000 decrease in voters, or somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 voters, likely did not vote due to the photo ID requirement,” he said later. “It is very probable that between the photo ID law and the changes to voter registration, enough people were prevented from voting to have changed the outcome of the presidential election in Wisconsin.”
In his article, Berman dives into the numerous voter suppression schemes that Gov. Scott Walker and fellow Republicans enacted with explicit pronouncements that this would deter votes. The 2016 election was the first election in 50 years without the protections of the Voting Rights Act, which the Roberts Supreme Court gutted in 2013.
This is not to defend the effort of Hillary Clinton or Wisconsin Democrats. This is to point out that Amy Klobuchar will face the same depleted voter turnout in Wisconsin no matter how much time she campaigns there. Pretending the problem of Republican voter suppression doesn’t exist won’t make them leave you alone.