The chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin credited President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the state to intense work by Democrats across Wisconsin.
“Democrats came out of the woodwork and worked so intensely in every corner of the state,” Ben Wikler said in an interview aired Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.
He said the party boosted Dem margins in the city of Madison and its suburbs, and also the Milwaukee suburbs, which prevented “blowout gains” by President Trump in more rural counties. He said while Trump turnout went up 15 percent from 2016, Democratic turnout went up 18 percent.
“And that is how you take a narrow Trump win and turn it into a narrow Biden win,” Wikler said.
Wikler cast doubt on whether the Trump campaign would actually go ahead with a recount in Wisconsin, “because they don’t have a prayer of changing the outcome.”
Wikler also said Democrats prevented GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos from gaining a supermajority by organizing the “Save the Veto” effort with Dem Gov. Tony Evers. He said the party will continue to organize and work “every day in every community.”
“UpFront” reporter Matt Smith asked Wikler to look ahead to 2022.
“You bet we’re going to fight and win to reelect Gov. Tony Evers, and (U.S. Sen.) Ron Johnson — who I would argue is one of the worst senators — is up in 2022,” Wikler said.
“This will be (Johnson’s) last term. Ron Johnson is not going back to the Senate. We’re going to send a Democrat to the Senate. That work starts now,” Wikler said.
Also on the program, Republican Congressman-elect Scott Fitzgerald, one of President Trump’s earliest supporters in Wisconsin, said the statewide canvass is the first step toward a possible recount. The Trump campaign signaled it would seek a recount in Wisconsin.
“Once that (canvass) is complete, I think then you’ll see kind of where we’re headed as far as recount goes,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald, the outgoing Senate majority leader, won the race in Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District to succeed retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.
He said if the canvass comes back and shows that local elections officials did everything right, “that makes it much more difficult, I think, to say a recount is in order.”
Fitzgerald also said the massive number of mail-in absentee ballots this year may require lawmakers to put new “safeguards” in place.
“We’ve never experienced an election like we just went through,” Fitzgerald said. “If suddenly we’re headed in this direction, there have to be more safeguards put in place.”
Fitzgerald also said he is concerned about the outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the state’s prisons, and how Evers and his Corrections secretary are handling it.
“Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have a handle on it,” Fitzgerald said. “It needs to be dealt with very quickly.”
In another segment, Marquette Law School Poll Director Charles Franklin said he would give the polling industry a “C-minus” for its performance this election cycle.
The election showed that polls by a variety of firms across the country overstated the level of support for Joe Biden, and failed to pick up on higher levels of support for President Trump.
Franklin said 90 percent of state polls did correctly pick the winner, while 7.6 percent called the wrong winner.
“That’s not a terrible performance getting the winners. But by exaggerating the size of the Biden lead, I think it produced a perception that this would be a real blowout or wave election. The polls did create a misperception that the race was more secure for Biden than it turned out to be,” Franklin said.
There were similar polling misses in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania in 2016. Franklin said that after this year’s problems, some of the issues may be “concentrated on Trump supporters.”
Trump last week called the polls phony, fake “suppression polls.”
“I strongly suspect that by adopting that rhetoric, President Trump is actively discouraging some of his supporters from participating in the polls and therefore, ironically, makes himself look like he is doing less well than he really is,” Franklin said.
He said a “technical exercise” lies ahead for pollsters to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.
Smith asked if voters should have any faith in polls going forward.
“I think we have to earn it,” Franklin said. “It’s a big deal, and we’ll be working on it.”
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