Biden shores up fragile 'blue wall' in industrial north

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

In this Nov. 3, 2020, photo, voters wait in line outside a polling center on Election Day, in Kenosha, Wis. President-elect Joe Biden shored up the Democrats' blue wall, more sturdily in Michigan, more tenuously in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to rebuild the party's path back to the White House. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

Joe Biden shored up the Democrats' “blue wall,” — more sturdily in Michigan, more tenuously in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — to rebuild the party's path back to the White House.

And while The Associated Press had called all three states and their combined 46 Electoral College votes for Biden, the Democrat's relatively narrow margins there reflect the nation’s continuing deep divisions more than a newly strengthened Democratic bulwark in the industrial north.

Trump had stunned the country four years ago by winning the three states that had been carried for decades by Democrats by a total of 77,000 votes. He did particularly well in rural areas and among non college-educated white voters, and his victory showed a fraying of the Democratic coalition as more working-class voters viewed their former party as dominated by coastal elites who considered their homes “flyover country.”

Biden, from the start, sought to reclaim at least some of those voters, making his appeal as a son of Scranton, Pennsylvania, who attended a state college, had known financial struggle, and could relate to their concerns.

“Joe Biden won these states because he and his campaign focused on how to win them individually,” said Amy Chapman, a senior adviser to Democrat Barack Obama’s campaigns in Michigan.

But to Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., “the blue wall is at best a blue speed bump now," telling ABC's “This Week” on Sunday, “This is a competitive country.”

Biden's slender margins underscored that the Democrats have work to do if they want to solidify this cluster of states that have been integral to them winning presidential elections.

“It’s a mistake to ever have thought Wisconsin was a safely blue state,” said state Democratic Chairman Ben Wikler.