Sunday, June 3, 2012

Election numbers to look for Pt. 1- Clues from past turnout

I'm going to do a 2-part series on historical Wisconsin turnout, as a prelude to another post that'll go over what to look for on Tuesday.

First of all, let's look at the last 2 gubernatorial elections, in 2006 and 2010. What I'll do is first show the turnout % for the state, based on the GAB's numbers for all Wisconsin elections in the last 65 years, and then show the top 10 Wisconsin counties for number of voters. This comes to between 52 and 55% of total votes cast for the state.

Total votes, Governor 2006 2,166,671
Turnout percentage, 2006 50.9%

% of overall state vote, Governor 2006
Dane County 9.90%
Waukesha County 8.15%
City of Milwaukee 7.99%
Rest of Milwaukee Co. 7.00%
Brown County 4.33%
Racine County 3.30%
Outagamie Co. 3.23%
Winnebago Co. 3.00%
Rock County 2.55%
Washington Co. 2.47%

Total votes, Governor 2010 2,171,331
Turnout percentage, 2010 49.7%

% of overall state vote, Governor 2010
Dane County 10.19% (+0.29% vs. 2006)
Waukesha County 8.71% (+0.56%)
City of Milwaukee 8.69% (+0.70%)
Rest of Milwaukee Co. 7.09% (+0.09%)
Brown County 4.09% (-0.24%)
Racine County 3.37% (+0.07%)
Outagamie Co. 3.02% (-0.21%)
Winnebago Co. 2.83% (-0.17%)
Washington Co. 2.73% (+0.26%)
Rock County 2.42% (-0.13%)

This shows that the pro-Walker counties of Waukesha and Washington (and the City of Milwaukee, interestingly!) made significant gains in their percentage of the vote in 2010, while lean-Dem Rock County fell down the list, and the Fox Valley counties of Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago also declined in significance.

Now let's turn this over to the last 2 presidential elections, as turnout is expected to be between the governor and presidential-year numbers at 60-65% (which would be somewhere between 2.6 million and 2.8 million votes), and see if the breakdown changes. 2004 was the tight race between Bush and Kerry that Kerry won by just over 11,000 votes (and could be a good guide for Tuesday's breakdown), while 2008 was an Obama blowout that he won over McCain by 56-42.

Total votes, 2004 3,016,288
Turnout percentage, 2004 72.9%

% of overall state vote, President 2004
City of Milwaukee 9.26%
Dane County 9.15%
Waukesha Co. 7.69%
Rest of Milw. Co. 6.83%
Brown County 4.11%
Racine County 3.39%
Outagamie Co. 3.00%
Winnebago Co. 2.96%
Rock County 2.69%
Kenosha County 2.55%
Washington Co. 2.42%

Total votes, 2008 2,996,869
Turnout percentage, 2008 69.2%

% of overall state vote, President 2008
Dane County 9.48% (-0.71% vs. 2010)
City of Milwaukee 9.22% (+0.53%)
Waukesha County 7.81% (-0.90%)
Rest of Milw. Co. 6.71% (-0.38%)
Brown County 4.18% (+0.09%)
Racine County 3.37% (same as 2010)
Outagamie Co. 3.07% (+0.05%)
Winnebago Co. 2.94% (+0.11%)
Rock County 2.65% (+0.23%)
Kenosha County 2.64% (+0.37%)
Washington Co. 2.49% (-0.24%)

A few interesting differences to ponder:

First is who moves up the list- the City of Milwaukee passes Waukesha County, and in 2004 even passed Dane County for total votes. They also see their share of the vote go up quite a bit, which is pretty important when you see that the City of Milwaukee went 78-21 for Obama in 2008, as well as 72-27 for Kerry in 2004, and 74-25 for Barrett in 2010. Waukesha County is also neutered a bit, as their share goes down nearly 1% from the share it had when it helped elect Walker in 2010.

No wonder D-B Van Hollen wants to have DOJ officials in Milwaukee on Tuesday to give a closer look to those voters - if we have turnout near presidential levels, it's likely that a good amount of the gain will be in Milwaukee, which would be a major help for Barrett and would hurt Walker. (Keep this one-sided move in the back of your mind when you consider Van Hollen coming up for another term in 2014.) On the flip side, Dane County's influence is also neutered a bit, but not quite to Waukesha County's levels (probably in no small part to Dane County's large student population, who are more likely not to vote in non-presidential elections).

Also notice that Kenosha County appears on the list, and passes Washington County for 10th place. Washington County's huge GOP vote is also neutered some in this case vs. 2010 by about 0.25%. Given that Kenosha County has run around 2% more Democratic than the rest of the state, this would again help Barrett, and between Washington and Waukesha Counties, that's about 30,000 to 35,000 votes that would be dispersed across the state instead of staying in the 262, going to more Democratic areas. It would also be big for Barrett if Rock County would return to the 2.6% level it was at in 2004 and 2008 instead of the 2.42% it was at in 2010, given that Rock County gave 52.5% to Barrett last time (6 points above Tom's statewide total), and was 8% above the statewide Dem percentage in both 2004 and 2008.

So this should give you some good benchmarks to check for on Tuesday - if Waukesha County is getting more votes than the City of Milwaukee and Washington County is casting more votes than Rock or Kenosha Counties, Walker's in great shape. But if we're seeing over 10% of the total vote coming from Dane County (which means total votes are around their 2008 levels of 282,000), 250,000 votes from the City of Milwaukee, and Rock and Kenosha are outvoting the Grothmann supporters, then Barrett's already gone a long way to winning.

P.S- Tweet out from PPP poll- Lists Walker leading 50-47, but adds: "Our projected WI electorate voted for Obama by 7. He won the state by 14. Close that enthusiasm gap in the last 36 hours and Barrett wins." And I would concur with that. If 2008 Obama voters and turnout happens, Scotty's going home.

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