Sunday, April 1, 2018

What to look for in turnout for Tuesday's SCOWIS election

Looking ahead to Tuesday's Supreme Court election between Rebecca Dallet and WMC/NRA/GOP tool Michael Screnock, what's always key in non-November elections is the question of voter turnout, both in how much and where the turnout is. And in at least one area of the state, it looks like turnout might be big.

Given that Screnock only got 17% of the votes in Dane County in February's primary, that seems like a good sign for Dallet. Although I will add the caveat that strong/weak early vote totals do not necessarily translate to strong/weak total vote totals.

When it comes to figuring out what the electorate may look like for Tuesday's Supreme Court election in Wisconsin, I think it's instructive to look at three different sets of Wisconsin electorates.

1. The primary election in February.
2. The April election in 2017 - where Tony Evers easily won the School Superintendent race with a Dem-leaning electorate, and then contrast with the 2013 April election where now-Chief Justice Pat Roggensack cruised to a win with a GOP-leaning electorate. April 2016 is a bad example because of the much higher turnout due to contested presidential primaryies going on for both parties.
3. The November elections of 2016 and 2014, to give an idea of the difference between a November electorate and an April.

We'll start with the four largest voting blocks in Wisconsin for these 3 scenarios. Those blocs are

1. Dane County (Heavily Dem)
2. The GOP strongholds of Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington Counties (aka "The WOW COounties")
3. The City of Milwaukee (Heavily Dem)
4. The rest of Milwaukee County (around 50-50 to slightly GOP leaning).

What’s interesting out of these turnout models is that the geographic makeup of the 2018 Supreme Court primary electorate was a lot more like what we saw in the pro-GOP elections of April 2013 and November 2014 (with the notable exception of higher turnout in 2018 also happening Dane County). Also note how the City of Milwaukee drops off below the rest of Milwaukee County in non-November elections.

Screnock greatly benefitted from the high proportion of the vote that came from the WOW Counties, as he won around 2/3 of the combined votes in those areas, and more people voted in the WOW Counties in the 2018 Spring primary than they did in the General Election in April 2017. And yet Screnock still could only pull 46% of the vote statewide, which is a major red flag.

Obviously, the other big question is what happens the rest of the state. Even though those 4 areas listed tend to make up 35-45% of the total electorate in statewide elections, that leaves a whole lot of votes in other parts of the state to turn. In recent years, the other high-voting counties in the state has turnout that varies based on the election, particularly in Northeast Wisconsin, where Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago Counties can make up between 8-10% of the vote depending on patterns. Also note how Outagamie and Winnebago Counties drop off in non-November elections.

Also, who and where are the voters that will vote on Tuesday that didn't vote in the Feburary primary. History indicates that will be somewhere around 400,000 to 500,000 people, and more of them will be outside of the highest population counties. I'm not sure that really gives an advantage to one candidate or the other, because while you may think that the GOP candidate is favored in small-population counties, if you go back to the map from the February primary you can see that Screnock's best counties were in the WOW Counties that had a disproportionately high share of the electorate. Which means he would have won something around 43-44% if there was a "normal statewide electorate" map.

Note that those dark blue northern counties had very low turnout in February, likely related to a foot of snow falling in the 2 days before the election. Is that a hidden advantage for Dallet if turnout returns to a normal amount there? Or is turnout going to stay awful in a lot of the state because weather looks like it'll be crap on Tuesday in most parts of Wisconsin.

I have no polling data, and I'll be as interested as the rest of you in seeing what the numbers look like on Tuesday night. But hopefully this gives you an idea of what to look for, and to see what turnout factors may be helping or hurting the two candidates. And by the way, MAKE SURE YOU AND YOUR BUDDIES VOTE AS WELL.



    Oh, you can bet on that, Jake, you can BET on it.

    1. I sent this weasel's comment to the trash pile without looking. But after Dallet DESTROYED the GOP/NRA/WMC tool last night, I decided to dig through and bring it back out.

      Yeah, Dane County went 80-20 on record turnout for a Spring election. I think it's safe to say that the Silent Majority in Wisconsin has had enough of the COP's lies, corruption, and failed corporatism.

      Meanwhile, the WOW Counties underperformed for Screnock. Even they're starting to know Fitzwalkerstan is something that isn't working.

      November is coming, kiddo.

  2. You need to take into account how rural voters are feeling about the environment. If they don't think the Supreme Court is going to protect their air and water, they are going to vote Dallet. If they are mad about FoxConn, they will vote Dallet. If they are more worried about how environmental rules are impacting jobs, it's the NRA candidate. My money is on water and air at this point in time. Because DNR is non-responsive, citizen groups are counting on the courts to protect and all indications are that the current court will side with industry.

    1. Great call. The Northern half shifted strongly toward Dallet, and even CAFO-ridden Kewaunee County was near 50-50. Maybe they're finally realizing the WMC crowd wants to wreck what makes Northwoods life worth living.