The Iron Range in northern Minnesota has been deep blue forever. CNN’s Martin Savidge traveled to this rural area to speak to voters and found that many of them plan to cast their vote for President Trump. Savidge tells viewers:
Once a Democratic stronghold, many of the voters we talk to here say more and more, they align with the President. This is mining country. Not coal mining, but taconite, a mineral used in making steel. Forty or fifty years ago, the Iron Range, as it’s called, was booming bringing big city prosperity to small towns like Eveleth.
Savidge asked the town’s mayor, Robert Vlaisavljevich, “Are we talking thousands of people sort of shifting and changing their politics?”
“Yes,” answered the mayor. “Oh, yeah…Things were just going gangbusters, businesses all over. Then when it crashed, everybody was caught by surprise. It crashed hard.”
Savidge narrates: The number of mining jobs in the region went from over 14,000 in the 1980s to just about 4,500 today, leaving families and main streets to suffer.
Vlaisavljevich has been the mayor of Eveleth for eighteen years on and off. He votes Democratic in state races. But he’s got a Trump sticker on his desk, a Christmas card from the President on his bulletin board and the deer on his office wall sports a MAGA hat.
Savidge asks, “The political support for the President, part of that is just survival?”
The mayor replies, “Economics…He’s our guy. He supports mining. He’s our guy.”
Savidge spoke with a couple, perhaps in their fifties. The man said, “Her brothers were staunch union Democrats for years and they’re not anymore.”
Savidge tells viewers that “Trump’s tariffs on imported steel are popular. So is his easing of environmental regulations. They also like his crackdown on immigration.”
He shifts gears. “In a state that’s 80% white, the influx of Somali refugees has been a contentious issue. Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar is a controversial figure here.”
The mayor said, “She offends a lot of people.”
Savidge says, “she’s not popular here.”
“No, not at all,” responds the mayor.
“Folks here say they didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left them.”
In 2016, Trump came close, but lost the state by 1.5%, or 44,765 votes out of nearly 2,700,000 cast. It’s possible, with even a small shift away from the Democratic Party in the rural areas, that Trump could carry the state in 2020. And I’m sure he will try.
Watch the video.