Watching Tonight's Elections in Wisconsin

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 5 2011 8:20 PM

Watching Tonight's Elections in Wisconsin

The judicial race in Wisconsin and the executive race in Milwaukee County have become the first real electoral tests of Scott Walker's power since the passage of the budget repair bill. I'll be following the election here; WisPolitics will have updates from the ground .

A few things to look out for:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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- Turnout. Democrats are buzzing with reports of insane, general election-level turnout in Dane County, where Madison is located. And Milwaukee will have high turnout because of the local election. In 2004, the last close election in the state, John Kerry carried Dane by a 2-1 margin, and carried Milwaukee by a 3-2 margin. The GOP's most populous stronghold, Waukesha, went 2-1 for Bush over Kerry. If turnout is strong in the big Democratic counties and weak in the Republican ones, it's a bad sign for David Prosser.

- Kenosha County. There's no perfect bellwether in the state, but Kenosha is close -- Kerry carried it by around 5 points while winning the state by 0.5 points.

9:18: Polls are closed and the first semi-meaningless results: Kloppenburg by 18 points with only 1 percent counted.

9:25: The AP is breaking down the counties. The bad news for Kloppenburg -- this early lead comes from a 64-36 advantage in Dane County. And John Kerry won that 2-1 in order to barely defeat George W. Bush.

9:29: Columbia County, a key swing county near Dane, voted 51-49 for Bush over Kerry in 2004. With 62 percent of precincts in, Kloppenburg is winning it by 8 points.

9:40: Other swing-ish counties are going for Prosser. More than half of Brown County is in -- it went for Bush by 10 points and it's going for Prosser by 10. About a third of Jefferson County is in. It went for Bush by 14; it's going for Prosser by 26.

9:45: Some better news for Kloppenberg. John Kerry won Sauk County by 5 points. With around 2/3 of the county in, she's winning it by 8.

9:55: Cue liberal panic: With 10 percent of precincts in, Prosser has a 51-49 lead. But he crept into the lead because Waukesha, the GOP's stronghold, started to come in. The swingier counties are still a mixed bag.

10:03: No counties have finished yet, but Brown County in 90 percent in. Bush won it 55-45 over Kerry; Prosser is winning it 54-46.

10:09: As this drags on, what do we know about the mood of the voters? It's early enough to dash one liberal dream -- the dream that their voters would storm the polls, basically unchallenged, because their enthusiasm was so high. It's pretty obvious that conservatives got their voters out, too. And that means something for the upcoming recounts. They won't be Democratic routs.

10:22: What's still left to count? There's nothing from the strong Democratic counties of Ashland and Bayfield, but there are a ton of small, Republican-leaning counties out.

10:28: Turning our eyes to Milwaukee for a moment, Democrats are on track to seize the County Executive office that Walker left upon becoming governor. Jeff Stone, a Republican assemblyman from Greendale, is down by 20 points to Democrat Chris Abele. That's with 44 percent of the vote counted.

10:40: A few counties are now done. Here are the results from 2004's presidential race, 2010's gubernatorial race, and tonight.

Bayfield
2004: Kerry 60, Prosser 39
2010: Barrett 58, Walker 42
2011: Kloppenburg 67, Prosser 33

Brown
2004: Kerry 55, Bush 45
2010: Barrett 44, Walker 56
2011: Kloppenburg 55, Prosser 45

Green
2004: Kerry 53, Bush 47
2010: Barrett 50, Walker 50
2011: Kloppenburg 55, Prosser 45

11:11: We're in a holding pattern. Kloppenberg is drawing a monster margin from Dane County, but Waukesha is giving Prosser almost as big of a margin. More completed counties:

Florence
2004: Kerry 37, Bush 63
2010: Barrett 35, Walker 65
2011: Kloppenburg 38, Prosser 62

Vilas
2004: Kerry 41, Bush 59
2010: Barrett 37, Walker 63
2011: Kloppenburg 40, Prosser 60

11:24: With around 64 percent of precincts counted, Prosser leads by 2 points and around 18,000 votes. Kenosha is done, and Kloppenburg won it by the same 53-47 margin that Kerry won when he beat Bush.

11:29: The counties that are still completely out, and how they lean: Ashland (D), Fond du Lac (R), Grant (swing), Green Lake (R), Langlade (R), Pepin (D), Trempealeau (D), Washburn (swing), Waupaca (R).

11:51: There are 815 precincts left to count. Where are they? Fifty-eight are in Dane County, 40 are in Eau Claire County, and 141 are in Milwaukee County, on Democratic turf. Seventy-seven are in Fond Du Lac, 28 are in Washington, and and 79 are in Waukesha, on Republican turf.

12:03: Grant County, another swing area, has mostly reported. In 2004, John Kerry carried by it 3 points. Kloppenburg is carrying it by 14 points.

12:10: All of Fond Du Lac came in and gave Prosser a net 6000 votes. Of the 376 remaining precincts, 41 are in Dane, 41 are in Eau Claire, 39 are in Milwaukee, which are strong for Democrats; 33 are in Marathon, 19 in Washington, and 73 in Waukesha, strong for Republicans.

12:26: There are 296 precincts left. I count 112 or that are clearly going for Democrats, and around 150 that are clearly going for Republicans. So population variance, location, and a lot of factors you can't tell from outside the state are going to decide this.

12:31: With only 284 precincts left, Prosser leads by 591 votes.

12:49: There are 125 precincts left, with Prosser up 1,915 votes. Where are the rest of the precincts? On Dem turf: 6 in Ashland, 4 in Dane, 6 in Dunn, 21 in Eau Claire, 13 in Milwaukee, 8 in Sauk. In GOP turf: 32 in Marathon, 8 in Ozaukee, 10 in Racine. You'd rather be Prosser, but you see where the votes are for Kloppenburg.

1:05: While we wait, let's remember that in the first round, on February 15, Prosser won 55 percent of the vote to 25 percent for Kloppenburg . A Prosser win is important, and locks up the Supreme Court for Republicans, but a win of the size this is likely to be is a big, yawning vote of no confidence in the state's GOP. The bottom started to fall out of Prosser's bid, and a Republican surge came in to help him, but that was $1.8 million no one had been planning to spend to retain a judge.

1:13: There are reports of hand counts in Eau Claire, absentee ballots in Milwaukee, and other results that could shift the balance. It's only past midnight in Wisconsin, but it's unlikely that this will be resolved cleanly tonight.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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