The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.
Now that Lisa Neubauer has officially conceded last Tuesday’s election, it’s time to review what happened and how it affects the state moving forward. It may have just been a low turnout, spring election but both the right and the left learned some valuable lessons about how 2020 is going to shape up. Supporters of Hagedorn learned how to energize Trump voters outstate and the left learned that Dane County is more important than ever.
Supporters of Brian Hagedorn knew that they had to wake up a lot of dormant Trump voters and turn them out to vote. There were a couple hundred thousand of these individuals who are irregular voters and didn’t show up in the 2018 spring election. These people were targeted heavily in the closing weeks. We worked with the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) to execute a plan specifically to target these folks by reminding them about what the left did to Justice Kavanaugh and how we have President Trump to thank for both Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch.
It was a simple message, “when you go the polls, America wins.” The numbers are still being dissected but after just shy of 1 million voters turned out in the 2018 Supreme Court race and most observers expecting about 1-1.1 million voters this time, 1.2 million voted in the 2019 contest. An extra 100,000-150,000 voters showed up to the polls than were expected and Judge Hagedorn won by just shy of 6,000 votes. If the goal was to activate dormant Trump voters, it appears to have worked.
On the flip side, Dane County continues to flex its muscle in statewide elections. Despite having just about half the population of Milwaukee County, Dane produced more total votes (151,856 vs. 150,104), with Neubauer receiving 79%. Dane was her largest collection of votes and a fifth of her total. After massive registration gains in 2018 for the fall elections, Dane County continues to turnout in record numbers driving up Democratic vote totals.
A big question remained after the fall 2018 election, with Governor Walker gone, were the angry voters on the left going to take their win and go home or were they going to be more fired up than ever? It looks like a bit of a stalemate. Dane County showed up in droves but Milwaukee County didn’t. The fall election saw Milwaukee turn out 100,000 more voters than Dane. If the same ratio held up this time, Milwaukee would have had about 50,000 more voters than Dane, significantly changing the results.
This non-partisan election has shown the right how to fire up supporters of the President and the left has found a way to produce even more votes in Dane County. Conservatives can’t count on Milwaukee staying home next fall, it is going to be an all out race to see who can motivate and activate their voters and claim victory on election day. We may not have any statewide races here in 2020 but we are going to be the focus of a lot of attention over the next year and a half.
– Fladeboe is a senior account executive at Persuasion Partners Inc.