Wisconsin is perhaps the key state for Democrats in the 2020 election–and universally acknowledged to be a very tough challenge. It’s likely to be close under almost any circumstances. But it’s still hard not to be encouraged by the results of Tuesday’s election in the state, where the liberal candidate Jill Karofsky soundly defeated conservative incumbent Daniel Kelly for a seat on the State Supreme Court. Make no mistake: while nominally a nonpartisan election, in the context of Wisconsin politics, this was very much a red vs. blue affair.
I can’t really comment on the demographics of the vote, since no data are directly are available. However, the geographic patterns of the vote are very revealing. Charlie Sykes, a conservative, albeit a Never Trump one, who really knows his Wisconsin politics, summarizes these results on The Bulwark:
“[The Democratic] formula for winning Wisconsin looks roughly like this: Run up big margins in Milwaukee and Dane Counties, cut into GOP margins in the suburban WOW Counties (Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington), win western Wisconsin, and hold Republican margins down in the rural parts of the state.
Which is basically what happened here. As Reid Epstein noted in the New York Times, “Wisconsin’s map on Monday night looked like a dream general election result for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee—stronger than typical for Democrats in the suburbs and a respectable showing among the state’s blue-collar white voters in rural counties.”
Ominously for Republicans, Kelly’s margin shrank in all of the crucial suburban counties (see tweet below):
The liberal candidate made gains throughout the eastern part of the state, including the suburbs, while also making big gains in the western part of the state. While cautioning against drawing too many conclusions for November, polling guru Charles Franklin also notes that the challenger Karofsky won Brown, Outagamie, and Winnebago counties—swing counties that had been trending Republican.”
All in all, a great night for Team Blue. Rinse and repeat in November.