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NASCAR and Donald Trump: Why the presidential candidate is attending Coca-Cola 600 race

Mary Ramsey, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

Still, racing has a fan base that leans Republican, data show. A 2023 survey by The Harris Poll and Sportico found that 54% of NASCAR fans identify as conservative, and 69% of those surveyed said their perception of NASCAR fans is that they lean conservative.

“Politically, it fits his base,” Shaheen said of Sunday’s expected crowd.

The Coca-Cola 600 is one of NASCAR’s four crown jewel races. At 600 miles, it’s the longest race on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule.

Why is Trump coming to Coca-Cola 600?

Shaheen said Trump’s ability to position himself as a sports fan by attending football games, UFC fights and more has allowed him to connect with voters. The candidate has gotten largely positive reactions from crowds at past events.

“With all his flaws and character issues, it’s funny because he has been a hero of the working man over the course of the last several years,” he said. “... It’s a winning strategy.”

 

Political scientist Eric Heberlig said Trump’s visits to sporting events “are a different twist” on the rallies that have become a “signature” of his presidential campaigns. The former president’s ongoing hush money trial in New York has limited his ability to stay on the campaign trail.

“The bulk of the audience there isn’t there to see him. They’re there for the event. So it allows him to reach a broader audience than he otherwise would,” said Heberlig, a professor at UNC Charlotte.

Sunday’s visit is also a sign of the significance of North Carolina to the 2024 election, Heberlig added. Both Trump and Biden have already made multiple visits to the state this election cycle.

“Presidential campaigns put a lot of effort into prioritizing where they’re going to have an event. They’re consciously thinking about which states are competitive, which media markets they need to be in, in order to have the maximum impact,” he said. “So yeah, it’s very intentional that he’s choosing to come to North Carolina, since we’re going to be one of the few competitive states this fall.”

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©2024 McClatchy Washington Bureau. Visit mcclatchydc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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