One of my bigger complaints I hear from angry-man radio and similarly clueless folks is some kind of knock-off of the Lee Sherman Dreyfus line about Madison being "____ miles surrounded by reality." It's often done to discount the quality of life and thought coming out of the state capital and home of the state's flagship university, and indirectly is used to justify the way of life of "normal, salt-of-the-earth" Wisconsinites (Sarah Palin might call them part of the "real Wisconsin"). Well, the Sykes and Belling backers that are most likely to give that line may want to check themselves, because suburb boys like them aren't in line with the real Wisconsin either.
So let's look at the results of the 2008 presidential election. Since Madtown's filled with crazy hippies and arrogant Prius drivers, I bet they're going to be a crazy outlier compared to the decent-living folks that live just outside of Milwaukee. Right? (we'll leave out 3rd party votes for this arrangement, as they were around 1% of the total vote in the state- a bit more in Madtown).
City of Madison 2008 presidential election
Obama 112,411- 80.8%
McCain 26,639 19.2% (Obama +61.6%)
Not surprisingly, it's heavily Dem. So let's now take out Madison and see how the rest of the state went.
Obama- 1,565,010 55.9%
McCain 1,235,754 44.1 (Obama +11.8%)
So Madison was +49.8% heavier for Obama than the rest of Wisconsin. Yeah, that seems to on the heavy side for one candidate. I'll bet the Milwaukee suburbs fit in with reality more, as the following data will show.
McCain 32,172 (61.0%)
Obama 20,579 (39.0%) (McCain +22.0%)
Rest of state: Obama wins 57.4%-42.6% (Obama +14.8%)
Ozaukee Co. difference: McCain +36.8%
Nearly 37% off of the state, but still isn't quite as weird as Madison. Let's get off the lake and head to the west.
McCain 47,729 (65.0%)
Obama 25,719 (35.0%) (McCain +30.0%)
Rest of state: Obama wins 57.6%- 42.4% (Obama +15.2%)
Washington Co. difference: McCain +45.2%
Can't you see how we can get clowns like Annette Ziegler and Glenn Grothmann from here?
McCain 145,152 (63.0%)
Obama 85,339 (37.0%)(McCain +26.0%)
Rest of state: Obama wins 58.8%- 41.2% (Obama +17.6%)
Waukesha County difference: McCain +43.6%
Now, here's the real fun part. Let's combine those 3 suburban Milwaukee counties, and make them one big county. Call it Wauzaukington County (and why not, is there really any difference between these three places?)
McCain 225,053 (63.2%)
Obama 131,137 (37.8%) (McCain +25.4%)
Rest of the state: Obama 59.8%-40.2% (Obama +19.6%)
Wauzaukington County difference: McCain +45.0%
So to review
Madison +49.8% effect for Obama
Wauzaukington County +45.0% effect for McCain.
Looks like mostly a wash to me, as both areas are well out of step with how the rest of the state voted. And Madison mentality doesn't get hours upon hours on high-powered AM stations bamming their angry-man garbage throughout the state every day, like Wauzaukington County does.
And here's the final kicker for how disproportionate the votes were for the 2 candidates in these 2 places.
% of Obama's Wisconsin votes from Madison: 6.7%
% of McCain's votes from Madison: 2.1% (4.6% difference)
% of Obama's votes from Wauzaukington County: 7.8%
% of McCain's votes from Wauzaukington County : 17.8%! (10% difference)
Sure, the stat's a bit flawed due to there being more people in Wauzaukington County than Madtown, but that reiterates the point even more. Madison doesn't dominate the Democratic votes in this states anywhere near the way that Wauzaukington County does for the Republican.
So the next time someone says Madison should be ignored in elections because they're 92 square miles surrounded by reality (depending on what's being annexed that day), remind the whiner that being surrounded bny reality in a cool city with a lake, intellectuals and 2-liter boots of beer is a whole lot better than being surrounded by reality in a lame cul-de-sac with no nightlife, stultifying conformity, and irrational fear of being exposed as nothing special.
I'll be back with the economic stats, which will make it even more obvious that it's the 2000 square miles of Wauzaukington County that's truly surrounded by reality.