How blue-collar workers could be key to the Republicans' mid-term success

There was a time, back in the beginning of the twentieth century, when the port of Duluth had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the world.
Situated on the shores of the vast Lake Superior in the American Midwest, it has long been a vital hub for the iron, steel and grain shipped across America and out into the world.

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The port city of Duluth on Lake Superior in Minnesota.

But when cheap Chinese steel began to flood the market, this blue-collar town began to fall into decline.
As iron ore mines in the nearby mountains shut their doors with the loss of thousands of jobs, this historically Democrat town began to question whether its politicians were doing things right.
Then along came Donald Trump with his tax cuts and tariffs. It’s difficult to tell whether the economic recovery started with his policies, or President Obama’s, but most workers here are in no doubt.

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One welder told ITV News:

Scott O’Brien has worked at Industrial Weldors and Machinists for seven years. He managed to escape the lay-offs three years ago when the family-run company had to let go more than half of its staff.
But having seen them all come back, with more new workers arriving, he knows who’s got his vote in the upcoming mid-term elections.
“I like Donald” the young welder tells me. “He’s a bit of a spitfire but he gets the job done and I like that.”
In the 40 years Project Manager Curtis Nelson has been here, the politics of the unionised workers has started to shift. He believes the arrival of Trump has galvanised that - in the factory and beyond.
“The state of Minnesota been Democratic for my whole life” he tells me.
“I’ve been here for 40 years at Industrial and back in 1978 and ‘79, it was probably 80% Democrat, 20% republican in the shop here. Now it’s actually balanced out, so this could be the first year that Minnesota could go red, rather than being Democratic.”
The journey back to prosperity here is far from universal and the politics reflect that.
Trump narrowly lost the north west state of Minnesota in 2016, traditionally a Democratic stronghold, although he did beat Hillary Clinton in this corner of it, the eighth congressional district.
And whether or not the man who calls himself the “Jobs President” can keep voters' minds focused on the economy, key battlegrounds like Duluth are likely to help determine the outcome of next week's mid-term elections.