A few thoughts.
- Crazy that, once again, a statewide election in Wisconsin is decided when a county clerk, late into the night, reveals a stash of not-yet-counted ballots.
- Evers winning and Baldwin cruising while national media darling Randy Bryce got soundly beaten by boring former UW Regent Bryan Steil in a not-that-Republican district is further evidence for the ham sandwich theory of Wisconsin politics. Bryce ran about a point behind Tony Evers in Racine, his own home county!
- A lot of people asking “How can there be so many Baldwin-Walker voters? It makes no sense!” I think it makes sense. In a state not experiencing any visible crisis, incumbency is an advantage. The last Marquette poll had “state on the right track / state going the wrong direction” at 55/40. Roughly speaking, if incumbency is a 5% boost and the state’s “mood” was +5% Democratic, you’d get a Democratic incumbent winning by 10 and a Republican incumbent locked in a tie, which is pretty much what happened. There are plenty of people whose votes aren’t strongly ideological.
- With all the focus on the governor’s race, hardly anyone was watching the state legislative elections. They didn’t go well for Democrats, who lost Caleb Frostman’s Senate seat and may lose seats in the Assembly too, while Democrats elsewhere were making pretty big gains in state legislatures. Some of that, probably most of it, is our ridiculously gerrymandered Assembly map. I’ll write more about that when I know more of the final numbers in these races. But there’s another thing going on, too — I think Wisconsin Democrats have figured out that turnout efforts in Dane and Milwaukee are the most efficient way to turn effort into votes. Turnout for this election was high statewide but in Dane County it was crazy; Tony Evers got more votes in the county than Hillary Clinton did in a presidential year! And it’s not cause Dane County doesn’t love Hillary Clinton. But that focus doesn’t shift the Assembly or Senate map.
- In 2014, the total votes for Attorney General were 95% of the governor votes. This time it was 99%. I read that as: more voters voting party-line, fewer voting only for governor and leaving the AG line blank because all they know is the party. But maybe I’m reading too much into it.