Wisconsin is not a blue state

Another Wisconsin election day!  By the polls — and I trust the polls, absent any reason not to — incumbent governor Scott Walker is likely to squeeze by with a narrow win.  If you don’t live in Wisconsin, how much should you care about this?  A lot, says Slate’s Betsy Woodruff, who calls this race “The Most Important Race in America.”

Winning statewide as a conservative Republican in Wisconsin isn’t easy. Even though five of its eight congressmen are Republicans and the GOP controls its statehouse, Wisconsin is a very blue state. It’s historically been a union stronghold, and it hasn’t gone Republican in a presidential race since 1984. For progressives, the Republicans’ fragile hold on state government is an insult, an affront that should be corrected.

Wisconsin is not a very blue state.  In those 30 years since 1984, a Republican has been governor for 19 of them.  In both 2000 and 2004, the Democratic candidate won Wisconsin’s electoral vote by less than half a percentage point.  In 2012, Obama won Wisconsin by 7 points, in a year he won nationally by 4 points.  So Wisconsin, in Obama’s home turf of the Upper Midwest, was slightly bluer than the country that year.

But it’s not California or Maryland.  It’s not even New Jersey.  It’s a state that’s half Republican and half Democratic.  (See also:  “It’s a recall, not an omen.”)  That’s why elections here are close.  Despite what Woodruff writes, neither liberals nor conservatives think they have a right to own the state.  Walker has the advantage of incumbency and he’s probably going to win.  That’s important for his dreams of a Presidential run; but I don’t think it has much to say about national politics.

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One thought on “Wisconsin is not a blue state

  1. Richard Séguin says:

    I just returned from voting, and I always feel good about having done so …

    An article in the Capital Times reflects much of what the Slate article claims, except for the Democrat/Republican balance:

    http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/writers/steven_elbow/the-nation-awaits-gov-scott-walker-s-fate/article_2334e23a-2a93-5fe3-8004-118a4520322e.html

    “Despite what Woodruff writes, neither liberals nor conservatives think they have a right to own the state.”

    Possibly true, but conservatives have been acting as if they do anyway. For the past four years they have gleefully seized the state with their extreme agenda, irrespective of the lack of overwhelming mandate. They acted as if they got 90% of the vote. If Walker wins, and especially if other Republicans do well in governor races, we will have at least two more years of the same.

    “Walker has the advantage of incumbency and he’s probably going to win … but I don’t think it has much to say about national politics.”

    I agree. A Walker loss might say more than a win, and a win would only be significant nationally if it’s in the context of other wins by Republican governors.

    Going off topic slightly, I think I’ve noticed that Walker political ads have significantly outnumbered Burke ads in the local TV media in the past few days. They probably had such a huge pot of money that they felt confident about buying up early in the game most of the available spots for the final days of the campaign. My limited sample though is the local news that I might have on in the kitchen while I’m working in there.

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