Cape May County on the southern tip of New Jersey reflects just how much loyalty Trump commands with voters outside the industrial heartland. More than 65% of its economy comes from tourism. The population booms from 90,000 year-round to more than 670,000 in July and August. Yet the county is reliably safe swimming for Republicans — and a Trump event bringing in thousands of guests into a community that is shuttered for winter is an economic bonus for the hotels, motels and restaurants.
Trump is holding the Tuesday rally along the beach in Wildwood in support of New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who flipped to the Republican party last month after opposing the House Democratic majority’s impeachment of the president.
The event is a chance to reward Van Drew with a presidential seal of approval, but it will also resonate beyond the Jersey Shore, drawing in suburban Philadelphia voters at a moment when Pennsylvania is a must-win for the president in 2020, said Seth Grossman, an attorney who ran against Van Drew in 2018 as a pro-Trump Republican.
The rally is a studied contrast with Trump’s 2018 campaign stops that tended to be further inland in counties that were generally whiter, poorer and less educated than the United States as a whole. That strategy helped Republicans to expand their Senate majority by two seats even as they lost their House majority to Democrats.