Sunday, December 9, 2012

The tenuous WisGOP grip on power

Good release from the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, which shows the votes by district in November 2012 for Wisconsin when it came to Congress, the State Senate, and the State Assembly. This report shows that Democrats got a majority of the votes for Congress, State Senate, and State Assembly in races, but Republicans got a majority of seats due to redistricting leading to Republicans taking more marginal seats. While not entirely accurate (there are Dem wins in the City of Racine and Kenosha that are not there), if you look at these maps, it's instructive to compare them with the Presidential red-and-blue maps from the same November elections.

        The thing that grabs me about comparing this map to the State Assembly map is how Southwestern Wisconsin went entirely for President Obama in the general election, but much of its Assembly seats are held by Republicans. Also interesting is that many of those same areas didn't have State Senate elections this November, but will in 2014. These would be areas I'd target if I were the Dems in 2014, with the extra bonus of knowing that many of these counties were carried by Scott Walker in the recall election, and could easily flip over to a Dem Governor candidate.

    And as I mentioned before,  many of those red counties won by Romney in northeastern Wisconsin were very close, as the finalized presidential numbers show.

  Northeast Wisconsin results
 Door Co.- Obama 53-46
Winnebago Co.- Obama 51-47
Brown County- Romney 50-48
Outagamie Co.-Romney 50-48
Manitowoc Co.- Romney 51-48
Kewaunee Co.- Romney 52-47

Despite the closeness of the presidential election, these areas are almost entirely represented by Republicans in the State Legislature and in Congress, and almost all went for Walker by 20 or more points last Summer. And much like in Southwestern Wisconsin, many of these areas did not have State Senate elections this year in Republican-held seats, including districts that have 50-50 counties like Door, Manitowoc, Kewaunee, and Outagamie.

   So let's drill down to the state elections, and look at the closest Assembly races from November 2012. We'll list all winners that got less than 60% of vote.

   Close Assembly races 2012 
  District 72- GOP- 50.2-49.8
  District 70- Dem 50.2-49.7 
  District 1- GOP 51-49
  District 26- GOP 51-49 
  District 75- Dem 51-49
  District 93- GOP 51-49
  District 50- GOP 50-47
  District 85- Dem 50-46
  District 51- GOP 52-48
  District 68- GOP 52-48
  District 88- GOP 52-47
  District 62- GOP 53-47
  District 67- GOP 53-47
  District 37- GOP 54-46 (Assembly flips to Dem)
  District 49- GOP 54-46
  District 35- GOP 53-42
 District 86- GOP 56-44
District 28- GOP 56-44
District 29- GOP 56-44
District 30- GOP 56-44 
District 61- GOP 56-44
District 4- GOP 56-44
District 5- GOP 56-44
District 31- GOP 57-43
District 42- GOP 57-43
District 43- Dem 58-42
District 56 GOP 58-42
District 41- GOP 58-42
District 25- GOP 58-42
District 63- GOP 58-42
District 15- GOP 58-42
District 20- Dem 58-42
District 27- GOP 58-42
District 32- GOP 57-40 
District 74- Dem 59-41
District 2- GOP 59-41
District 14- GOP 59-41
District 21- GOP 59-41
District 36- GOP 59-41
District 87- GOP 59-41
District 89- GOP 59-41
District 6- GOP 59-40
District 3- GOP 58-38
District 38- GOP 59-39
District 34- GOP 57-36
   The 8 closest races are relatively evenly distributed, with 5 Republicans and 3 Democrats winning. But then you'll notice Republicans won the next 17 CLOSEST RACES (margin of victory between 4 and 16 points), and if the Dems merely flipped every race that was within 10% in November, they would be in the majority in the Assembly. These results also illustrate how the GOP redistricted in order to keep their big advantage in the state Legislature, making a huge amount of 60-40 type districts and dumping Dems into largely safe seats. 33 of the Dems' 39 seats in the Assembly were won with at least 60% of the vote, vs. 21 of the GOP's 60 seats. If there is a Dem wave, it is very likely that it would wash out a huge amount of Republicans, while the GOPs can't gain much more than they already have.

   Same goes for the Senate. Because redistricting happened since the current Senators were put into office, let's look at the 17 Senate seats that'll be up in 2014, and see which ones could be toss-ups. I'll also include the current Senator's incumbent party.

  Close Senate races
  District 1- GOP inc. 3 of 3 close (All GOP)
  District 3- Dem inc.  0 of 3 close
  District 5- GOP inc. 2 of 3 close (All GOP)
  District 7- Dem inc. 2 of 3 close (1 Dem, 1 GOP)
  District 9- GOP inc. 3 of 3 close (All GOP)
  District 11- GOP inc. 2 of 3 close (All GOP)
  District 13- GOP inc. 2 of 3 close (All GOP)
  District 15- Dem inc. 1 of 3 close (1 Dem)
  District 17- GOP inc. 3 of 3 close (All GOP)
  District 19- GOP inc. 1 of 3 close (GOP)
  District 21- Dem inc. 3 of 3 close  (All GOP)
  District 23- GOP inc. 2 of 3 close (All GOP)
  District 25- Dem inc. 2 of 3 close (All Dem)
  District 27- Dem inc. 0 of 3 close
  District 29- GOP inc. 3 of 3 close (2 GOP, 1 Dem)
  District 31- Dem inc. 1 of 3 close (1 GOP)
  District 33- GOP inc. 0 of 3 close

   So we have 30 close Assembly races in districts where there will be State Senate elections in 2014. And in those Assembly races, the Republicans went 25-5! So the GOP will have to spend a lot of time and money propping up vulerable incumbents for both Senate and Assembly in the same communities. If the GOP overreaches or is stained by Walkergate corruption and failures, it is very easy to see where the state sweeps back to the Dems in 2014, and not just in the Governor's mansion or in the other state offices like Attorney General or Treasurer. Remember, there's no U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin for 2014 either, so it'll be the House along with Walker and the WisGOPs at the top of the ticket and the top of the media's attention, which means state-level politicians have fewer places to hide from scrutiny (like they did this November).

   And if I'm the Dems, I get put in front and start being the party of workers and clean elections, because the opportunity is right there. But it takes starting NOW, and planting the seed in voters' heads, before the Koch/ Bradley-funded propaganda overwhelms the bystanders. Because as you see here, it'll take GOP money going to a whole lot of places in the state to prop up their many vulnerable legislators, while Dems don't need to worry about spreading themselves too thin, because there aren't a lot of new places the GOP can go to win.

I'd encourage any Republicans with a sense of pragmatism (if they still exist) to heed these words, and not try any radical Bagger crap like ending same-day registration or trying to install right-to-freeload legislation or pass crazy abortion bills. Your lead isn't as strong as you might think, and it won't take much to have a pissed-off public turn on you, and end the Age of Fitzwalkerstan in a dramatic way.

   So go ahead, WisGOP. I dare you to try to board the crazy train one more time. Because November's numbers show you have a really good chance of derailing and losing power with a public that isn't automatically going to buy what you're trying to sell (well, outside of the 262 of course).

  Late edit: here's the Journal-Sentinel's Craig Gilbert with an excellent breakdown of the presidential race vote by Congressional and State Senate district, and also explaining how 60 of 99 State Assembly districts skewed more Republican than the state's vote as whole. With most of those 60 districts are within 10% of the overall vote, and with Obama winning by nearly 7, that means the GOP has little room to spare if a Dem wave hit the Assembly.


  1. I hope you forward this post to every Democrat in a leadership position, whether in the party or in the legislature. Consider especially sending it to the more energetic of the bunch, including Chris Larson, Cory Mason, Chris Taylor, JoCasta Zamarippa, Sondy Pope-Roberts, etc. I don't know if it would do much good to go to the state party, but there are some bright lights in the legislature.

    On Wisconsin!

  2. I'll see what I can do, but I did notice that my State Rep (Berceau) referenced Gilbert's article yesterday on Twitter. I hope they take it not as something to despair, but an opportunity they can take advantage of if they play their cards right.