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Amy Klobuchar Targets Republicans*

*Not literally

Amy Klobuchar is still in the race for the Democratic nomination, even though you may not have heard her name for a while. The Minnesota senator is hoping that she can change things by reaching out to a niche of voters that have been almost ignored by her rivals: Republicans.

Since entering the race, Sen. Klobuchar has failed to catch fire with voters but has nevertheless managed to maintain enough support to be included in debates. As Democratic primary voters flirt with flavor-of-the-month candidates in an effort to find an alternative to Joe Biden, Klobuchar remains one of the few Democrats who could conceivably rally moderates and independents to defeat Donald Trump. Although hampered by her status as a relative unknown, she was rated among the most effective and the most popular members of the Senate as well as having a relatively moderate voting record.

Now Klobuchar hopes to parley her skills at winning rural Minnesota voters into a surge in New Hampshire where the mindset may be similar to that of her constituents back home. Politico reports that the Klobuchar campaign is campaigning in towns that are all but ignored by other candidates. In particular, Klobuchar is gunning for voters who supported Obama and then voted Trump in 2016.

“Those are really a lot of communities that tend to be bellwethers or communities that have an impact on New Hampshire outcomes,” said Scott Merrick, Klobuchar’s state director. “Whether they’re Democrats and they’ll vote for more moderate candidates or they’re truly undeclared voters who mix it up.”

However, University of New Hampshire pollster Andy Smith said “Obama-Trump” voters made up only about three percent of the electorate, a number too small to affect the outcome of the election. Therefore, the Klobuchar campaign is also targeting traditionally Republican towns and districts. In a state where Trump’s net approval stands at -16 points, there may be crossover Republican voters who would support socially liberal, fiscally moderate Democrat. The big question for Klobuchar is how to get those Republicans to back her rather than Joe Biden.

The answer may be two-fold. If Biden proves to be damaged by his tangential relation to the Ukraine scandal, such as by an embarrassing testimony in Trump’s Senate trial, his stock may fall, leaving a path for another moderate Democrat. The second part of the equation relates to Klobuchar’s strong debate performance (for those who actually watched), which resulted in a late-December fundraising haul. If Biden falters, Amy Klobuchar could become the non-radical alternative.

At present, Klobuchar has a lot of work to do before she earns her first delegate. The Real Clear Politics national average shows her at 3.5 percent. She currently polls even worse in New Hampshire with two percent. Fifteen percent of the vote is required to earn delegates in Democratic primaries. As Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren decline, Klobuchar may be well-positioned to rise if she keeps delivering strong performances in the remaining debates.

Amy Klobuchar remains a long shot but don’t count her out. She’s an experienced campaigner and could benefit from Trump voters who like the president’s economic policies but are disenchanted with his behavior. With no serious challengers opposing Trump in the Republican primary, the opportunity cost of crossing over to vote for a moderate Democrat is very low for previous Trump voters.

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