Fears over the fate of democracy leave many voters frustrated and resigned

His base doesn’t ask for an apology. “Why wasn’t the same shadow cast over people burning down buildings and attacking police the previous summer?” Ms. Pedersen asked. “Why weren’t these thugs painted the same as Trump’s thugs?”

The Democrats are not letting Mr. Van Orden pass.

“The idea that Wisconsin would allow someone who was part of the January 6 insurgency to go to Congress, the idea that we might even consider that, is deeply troubling,” said Tammy Baldwin, the senator. State Democrat, to party volunteers in Eau Claire. before sending them to canvassing.

But Mr. Pfaff sees it as a distinct possibility, if not a probability.

Nationally, according to the Times/Siena poll, 71% of Republicans said they would be comfortable voting for a candidate who believed the 2020 election was stolen, as did 37% of independent voters. and 12% Democrats.

Mr. Pfaff, whose family has farmed in La Crosse County for seven generations and who has served in the state and federal departments of agriculture, said he does not claim so much that the presence of Mr. Van Orden at the Capitol disqualified him. Instead, Mr Pfaff said, it was “a window into his soul”, revealing “who he is as an individual” – too partisan for a district that for the past 42 years has been represented by a moderate and openly gay Republican. , Steve Gunderson, and then by a centrist Democrat, Mr. Kind.

But the neighborhood has changed. The consolidation of family farms into businesses dislocated families from the land they had worked for generations, turning them into employees of large agribusinesses. Local manufacturing has been shaken by globalization.

“It had a real impact on the people of this district,” Mr. Pfaff said. “They feel like we’ve been left behind.”

In the long rural stretches, hills and sloughs between the hipster hangouts and union halls of La Crosse and Eau Claire, Van Orden and Johnson’s campaign signs jostle with faded Trump-Pence placards. Mr Pfaff, who noted that Democratic super PACs were not coming to his aid, said it would be pointless anyway for outsiders to ask local voters to dismiss Mr Van Orden as a threat to the political order .