Tag Archives: kloppenburg

Scott Walker: not toast

Much was made of the WPR/St. Norbert poll released last week, in which 58% of respondents said they’d vote for Scott Walker’s opponent if a recall comes to pass, with only 38% saying they’d vote to keep the Governor in office.  Worth noting the numbers below the top line, though:  in the sample of 482 voters, 34% reported voting for JoAnne Kloppenburg in April’s Supreme Court election, against 27% who said they voted for Prosser.  In fact, those votes were evenly split.  So it’s way, way, way too soon to say that Walker’s behind in a potential recall election, especially with Wisconsin D’s still in search of a candidate.

(Another interesting result from that poll:  people in Wisconsin apparently really like electing their Supreme Court, and in fact would prefer that the prospective justice’s party affiliation be listed on the ballot!)



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Two more maps of Wisconsin

Looking now like David Prosser will hold on to a narrow victory in the final count with about 50.2% of the vote.

From the Huffington Post, a map showing the county-by-county change from Scott Walker’s share of the vote to David Prosser’s. The image on the original post has a nice mouse-over where you can see the actual numbers.  At first glance, the picture doesn’t bode well for Wisconsin politics — the most Democratic parts of the state got more Democratic, and the most Republican parts got more Republican.  (Or so it looks — I didn’t, y’know, actually make a spreadsheet.)  Combined with the inevitable bitterness that follows a close election, I think we’re looking at another couple of years of state politics carried out in Manichean deathmatch mode.  People with direct knowledge tell me the State Supreme Court has been operating that way for years already.

And here’s a map showing the geographic distribution of ethnicities in Wisconsin in 1900.  The Democratic/Republican line from northwest to southeast is also the Norwegian/German line.

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Rick Ungar makes too much of Kloppenburg-Prosser

A couple of my friends recommended Rick Ungar’s piece in Forbes on today’s election, but I think he overstates the good news for Wisconsin Democrats by a long way.

To illustrate the point, consider that Judge Prosser won his last election to the bench by garnering 99.54% of the 550,000 votes cast. That is no typo – Prosser actually won almost every single vote that was cast.

So when Wisconsin held its primary to choose the top two candidates for the requisite general election run-off, it was no surprise that Judge Prosser garnered 55% of the vote. The closest remaining vote getter, Joanne Kloppenburg, an unknown Assistant State Attorney General, managed only 25% of the few votes that were cast….

Remember, Judge Prosser won his last election with over 99% of the vote. In this election, he not only lost a full 50% of that voter base, it would appear that he has lost his seat on the bench. Considering that he was involved in no scandal or other event that could explain such a remarkable reversal of fortune, I suspect we would have to search long and wide to find another election in our history with a similar result. Should Prosser ultimately prevail in the recount, there is still no getting around the fact that he’s taken an historic tumble in voter support.

I think it is, therefore, safe to say that the Democratic base has been ignited in the State of Wisconsin.

Yes, Prosser won all but 2,569 votes in his 2001 election.  But he was running unopposed.  To refer to 99.5% of Wisconsin as his  “voter base” is thus a bit rich.  Unfair, too, to compare Kloppenburg’s 50% of the vote to her 25% share in the primary, which wasn’t a two-person race;  three viable candidates were competing to go up against Prosser.  The total primary vote was 55% Prosser, 44% “somebody less tied to the GOP than Prosser.”  To make up a 10-point deficit in two months is no small trick — but it’s hardly historic.


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Thus endeth my career as political prognosticator

Last week I speculated that, in a best-case scenario for Joanne Kloppenburg, spring turnout in Dane County could jump from the usual 75,000 or so to  as high as 100,000.

It was actually just over 180,000!  (CJ and I talked turnout on the WKOW 5:00 news.)

But devoted Republicans in Waukesha County were just as energized.  And the race is now tied, almost certainly headed for an automatic recount.

OK, I can’t resist — despite my failure, here are a few more thoughts on the result.

  • This was probably the least important election for liberals to win — lots of people in WI oppose the governor’s program, but it’s hard to see which part of it would be subject to constitutional challenge.  Maybe voter ID, but the US Supreme Court has already ruled in favor of some state voter ID laws (with Stevens writing the 6-3 decision.)
  • On the other hand, it might have been the easiest one for liberals to win.  It’s hard to know what this result portends for recalls.  The tie suggests that the 2010 Republican wave has receded, leaving Wisconsin in its natural 50-50 condition.  But I think you need better than 50-50 to recall a sitting state senator; there’s going to be some substantial proportion of voters who think elected officials shouldn’t be recalled absent some kind of malfeasance.  And Prosser seems to have done fine in Luther Olsen’s district, one of those that D’s really need to win to have a chance of flipping the Senate.
  • As for recalling Walker:  lots of people are pointing out that the 730,000 votes Kloppenburg got yesterday  is well more than the half-million signatures needed to trigger a recall.  But that’s 730,000 votes collected under conditions where you have personnel in every neighborhoood of every town in the state spending all day in a publicized location recording votes.  The recall petitioners will have a lot more than one day to do it — but gathering five hundred thousand of anything is hard, especially when you have to go to it instead of it coming to you.

Those from out of state might not know that Wisconsin politics breaks pretty neatly along a northwest-southeast line.  This nice map of the results from UW geography prof Eric Compas shows it pretty starkly.

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Kloppenburg, Soglin, Cieslewicz

Will a tight mayoral election between Paul Soglin and Dave Cieslewicz help JoAnne Kloppenburg in her bid to unseat David Prosser on the Wisconsin Supreme Court?  The theory is that a mayoral election in Madison increases turnout in a precinct likely to be very Kloppenburg-friendly.

But I don’t think the effect will be so big.  Supreme Court races here have tended to draw about 800,000 voters.  (Compare with the 2.1 million who voted in the 2010 governor’s race.)  There have been three State Supreme Court elections in the last five years.  The election that included  a Madison mayoral race drew 90,000 voters from Dane County; the one that featured a County Executive contest got 100,000.  The other, the high-profile race between Louis Butler and Michael Gableman, got 70,000 Dane County votes.  In each of these, Dane County gave a large majority of its votes to the more liberal candidate.

So let’s say the Soglin-Cieslewicz race brings out an extra 30K Madison voters on April 5.  Based on previous Supreme Court votes, give 75% of these to Kloppenburg.  That gives her an extra margin of 15,000 votes, or about 2%.  Not that big a swing, when you’re trying to unseat an incumbent justice, something that’s only been done once in the last forty years.

That one time, by the way, was Gableman’s victory over Butler.  Gableman won by 23,000 votes.  If Madison had elected a mayor on 2008, it’s just possible Butler would still be on the Court.

While we’re talking about the spring election — people in comments, especially old Madison hands, should feel free to lobby for a mayoral candidate.  I’m undecided.  Here’s Cieslewicz’s blog and here’s Soglin’s.

And, of course, if you live in Wisconsin, don’t forget to vote on April 5.


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