Two liberal candidates, Rebecca Dallet and Tim Burns, combined for 54% of the vote in this February’s primary for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Dallet and the conservative candidate Michael Screnock, who got 46% in the primary, moved on to the general election in April.
There was some worry among liberal political types that voters who went for Burns, the vocally left candidate, would sit out the general rather than show up for the more conventionally liberal Dallet. Did that happen? Here’s something cool: Wisconsin offers full statewide ward-level election results, which helps us figure that out!
First of all, here’s a ward-by-ward picture of the primary:
Each circle is a ward and its position in the triangle shows the proportion of votes going to Screnock (top vertex), Burns (left vertex), and Dallet (right vertex.) The size of the circle is the total number of votes in that ward. You can see that there’s no visible clustering, and that Dallet did much better than Burns.
So what happened in the general?
Well, first of all, Dallet won, and won big: 56-44. But that doesn’t mean Burns voters showed up. We can’t really know! But the ward-by-ward data at least helps us make some guesses.
Quick and dirty: you can do a linear regression on Dallet’s share of the general in terms of Burns’s and Dallet’s share of the primary vote. I stripped out wards with fewer than 100 general-election votes, which still left 1827 wards. You get
Dallet general ~ 0.724*Burns primary + 0.892* Dallet primary + 0.112
with a pretty decent fit
The Burns coefficient is a little bit lower but I don’t see strong evidence that a lot of Burns voters skipped the general election.
Here’s a test I like a little bit more. There are 79 wards where Burns and Dallet together got between 54 and 56% of the vote in the primary. Among these wards, Burns’s voteshare ranged from 6.5% (Milwaukee ward 211) to 35% (Town of Moscow wards 1-2, a bit on the nose, don’t you think?) If Burns voters were skipping the general election, you might expect Dallet to do worse in April in those wards where Burns did better in February. Here’s the scatter. If there’s a downward trend here, it’s not very strong.
My conclusion: liberals gonna liberal.
Update: I got the last scatter wrong when I originally posted this; if you remember the post being a little different, you’re right!