Thursday, February 18, 2016

A few reflections of a strong progressive vote on Tuesday

I wanted to forward a couple of good articles that gave some analysis to Tuesday’s elections for office in Wisconsin (I touched on the number of successful school referenda in this post).

The first is from Milwaukee’s Dom Noth, who has his typically excellent and in-depth rundown of the votes for Mayor, County Executive, and Alder, as well as a Milwaukee flavor on the Supreme Court numbers. Noth points out that progressives came out in stronger-than-expected numbers statewide, and in particular, Noth notes that Tuesday’s results out of the state’s largest city have shaken up Wisconsin’s political oligarchs.
It’s hard to predict April 5 turnout based on the Feb. 16 preliminary contest. But in this case as in several other races it indicated that progressive forces were in clear shot of taking back power in a number of contests – which is likely to scare the better heeled entrenched, whose only recourse is greater spending and advertising (they seem to have run out of ideas).

Nowhere was this clearer than in the technically nonpartisan race for Milwaukee County executive (though both sides are selling themselves as Democrats and only one can really be telling the truth). It ended as expected in that the two Chrises were on top and advancing out of four candidates – incumbent Chris Abele and challenger Chris Larson (and if you think the fact that both have the same first names isn’t important, you should have seen the number of fouled ballots caused at the polls).

But again the margin was a shock to the GOP in Madison. They had been cozying up to Abele in a number of bills specifically aimed at increasing his power. All that late-night voting may have been for naught. Though outspent 20 to 1 by the billionaire heir, Larson actually topped Abele by 700 votes (48,258 for Larson to 47,550 for Abele)….

Abele has turned to a costly trail of mailers and TV ads to counter the attacks from Larson, who without much money drew more votes Feb. 16. Larson is currently a state senator and a former supervisor who clearly knows how to play politics and is riding a lot of progressive and working society wrath against Abele.

Nothing else can explain his great showing. Marina Dimitrijevic, a county supervisor and state head of the new Working Families Party (it supports progressive candidates like Larson but is picky about its choices) called Larson topping Abele in the votes “an earthquake.” For most political observers, that is hardly an overstatement.
The other “earthquake” in the state came from the poor showing by Walker-appointed Justice Rebecca Bradley in the Supreme Court race. More than 55% of the state’s voters did not vote for Justice Bradley (Foundation), and the vast majority of those who did not vote for Bradley gave their votes to Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg, who finished less than 8,700 votes behind Bradley out of over 563,000 ballots cast. broke down some of those numbers, and found Justice Bradley ran well behind fellow right-wing Justice Pat Roggensack’s performance in 2013.
Brown County epitomizes that. The county has become a key read in state elections with Republicans and conservatives needing to run up the score there to help offset Dem results in places such as Madison and Milwaukee.

But while turnout nearly doubled -- 20,787 votes yesterday compared to 10,746 in 2013 -- Bradley captured just 47.6 percent of the vote. By comparison, Roggensack won 65.8 percent three years ago. Kloppenburg, meanwhile, won 38.5 percent in Brown County, compared to Fallone's 27.8 percent in 2013….

In 2013, Roggensack won 54.2 percent of the vote in Eau Claire with 5,130 people turning out in that race, while Fallone was at 40 percent. Yesterday, Kloppenburg won 60.2 percent of the 8,619 votes tallied there, compared to 32.6 percent for Bradley.

In La Crosse County, Roggensack won 58.9 percent of the vote compared to 31.9 percent for Fallone in 2013 as 8,223 cast ballots. But Kloppenburg won the county with 56.9 percent of the 10,712 votes cast, compared to Bradley's 34.6 percent.
And that was with Ms. Bradley (Foundation) having nearly $1 million in personal and dark-money funds backing her before the primary, well above what either Kloppenburg or 3rd-place Joe Donald had. That'll likely even up in the next 7 weeks.

The high turnout in Milwaukee allowed for it to grab a large share of the votes in Tuesday’s primary, and it’ll be interesting to see if that will be repeated for April’s elections, where not only will the final elections for County Exec, Mayor, and Supreme Court Justice be on the ballot, but also the presidential primaries for both parties. As you’ll see, the Milwaukee area’s share of the statewide vote went well above a typical November or April election (as I broke down in this post), but it also shows that Bradley’s places of strength (the WOW counties) grabbed a little more of the vote than they usually do, especially Washington County. Dane County also came out in force on Tuesday, despite there being few if any items on the ballot other than the Supreme Court primary.

Top 10 areas/Counties for Feb 2016 turnout
Dane County 12.83% (+2.92% vs. 2012 presidential turnout, +0.67% vs. 2011 SC election)
City of Milwaukee 11.65% (+2.15% vs 2012 prez, +3.57% vs 2011 SC)
Waukesha County 8.02% (+0.07% vs 2012 prez, -0.32% vs 2011 SC)
Rest of Milw. Co. 7.69% (+1.04% vs 2012 prez, +0.50% vs 2011 SC)
Brown County 3.68% (-0.52% vs 2012 prez, -0.37% vs 2011 SC)
Washington Co. 2.99% (+0.42% vs 2012 prez, +0.28% vs 2011 SC)
Racine County 2.96% (-0.41% vs 2012 prez, -0.43% vs 2011 SC)
Winnebago Co. 2.32% (-0.59% vs 2012 prez, -0.39% vs 2011 SC)
Outagamie Co. 2.31% (-0.77% vs 2012 prez, -0.60% vs 2011 SC)
Marathon Co. 2.12% (-0.16% vs 2012 prez, -0.01% vs 2011 SC)

Notice that the three largest counties in the Fox Valley all had smaller-than-normal turnout, and Bradley badly underperformed there, getting less than 50% of the vote in all 3 places. In addition, the blue-leaning areas of Kenosha and Rock Counties, who are usually part of this top 10 list, aren’t in the equation here. In fact, dead-red Ozaukee County (where Bradley pulled 67% of the vote) actually had more ballots cast than Kenosha and Rock Counties this week, but Becky shouldn't expect that to hold up on April 5. With that in mind, things might look even worse for Justice Bradley (Foundation) than her disappointing performance on Tuesday night’s primary would indicate, especially if those counties I mentioned above have a more typical turnout in April. And I bet the Bradley/Koch/GOP oligarchs that created Rebecca Bradley’s career know it as well as anyone.

It also means now it’s time to work even harder over these 47 days, to speak more of these truths to people, in order to make the “earthquake” that was felt in the primary result in a progressive landslide.

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