In Wisconsin, two of yesterday’s races were being touted as a referendum on Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) rather extremist anti-worker, anti-middle class agenda. Now it is mostly all over but for the recounts.
The second most important race is for Gov. Walker’s former position as Milwaukee County executive, a post he held from 2002 to 2010. The Republican candidate state Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale), who is portrayed in the liberal blogosphere as a Scott Walker clone. The opponent is philanthropist and political newcomer, Chris Abele (D).
The result? A +22% landslide for Abele:
Abele had 61% of the vote to 39% for Stone, according to unofficial results with all votes counted
The voters of Milwaukee county have spoken: “Walker clone sucks,” or maybe, “We don’t trust no Republicans no more,” or, perhaps, “We dislike Gov. Walker’s extremism and won’t elect his cronies.” It’s hard to adjudicate amongst these options without additional information.
The most important election is for state Supreme Court, where Justice David Prosser (the incumbent) is up against Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg. Kloppenburg is the liberal and Prosser is the semi-crazy conservative in this non-partisan race. Where’d I get the “semi-crazy” from? Well…let’s politely overlook the fact that Sarah Palin has endorsed him (perhaps against his will!). Let’s ask former Gov. Patrick Lucey (D) who, until early April, was the honorary co-chairman of Prosser’s campaign:
“I have followed with increasing dismay and now alarm the campaign of Justice David Prosser, whom I endorsed at the outset of his campaign and in whose campaign I serve as the honorary co-chairman,” Lucey said in the statement. “I can no longer in good conscience lend my name and support to Justice Prosser’s candidacy. Too much has come to light that Justice Prosser has lost that most crucial of characteristics for a Supreme Court Justice — as for any judge — even-handed impartiality. Along with that failing has come a disturbing distemper and lack of civility that does not bode well for the High Court in the face of demands that are sure to be placed on it in these times of great political and legal volatility.”
With no prior information we would might expect the incumbent to prevail.
The election is too close to call. The last numbers I could find have Prosser leading by 585 votes with 34 of 3,596 precincts left to report. As it happens most of the 34 precincts are from pro-Kloppenburg counties.
Starting with the table found here, I project (using ONLY the county-wide percentages and estimate of the number of votes remaining) that there will be 6,546 additional votes for Kloppenburg and 4,871 additional votes for Prosser. After we take into account Prosser’s 585 lead this evening, Kloppenburg should have a final lead of about 1,091 votes. The wrench in the calculations is that I have no idea how many absentee ballots and provisional ballots will be counted and how they will break.
The losing candidate will, no doubt, request a recount (which, under Wisconsin law is not automatic). My hunch is that the recount will favor Kloppenburg a bit (keep in mind what happened in Cantwell–Gorton, 2000; Gregoire–Rossi, 2004; Franken–Coleman, 2008). But watch out for those absentee ballots and provisional ballots…they add considerable uncertainty to any projections.
So, who really wins…Workers or Walker? Given the closeness of this race, it will be hard for either side to make too much over the eventual winner. That said, the expectation that a incumbent should win such a race means that a Kloppenburg win, and maybe even a very close loss, provides modest evidence that Wisconsin voters have joined with their Milwaukee county brethren to give Gov. Walker a collective thumbs down.
Update: With three precincts left to report, it looks like Kloppenburg will lead with about 260 votes. Wisconsin absentee voter law requires ballots to arrive by the 8 pm poll-closing time on election night. There is a limited postmark exception for some overseas military personnel, but the exception doesn’t apply to this election.
There should be a hand full of provisional ballots to count. This 2008 memo points out that provisional ballots must be “dealt with” by 4:00 pm today:
A provisional ballot is used when a person attempts to vote who is required to provide proof of residency but who does not have such proof with them. […]
The person is to be offered the opportunity to vote a provisional ballot and if they agree, are to be provided with envelope marked “ballot under s. 6.97 stats.” The person shall be required to sign written affirmation on envelope that they are qualified elector in that ward or district and is eligible to vote. The ballot shall be noted with “s. 6.97” and person’s name placed on separate list. The person then has until 4 pm the day after the election to provide identification in order for vote to be counted.
For the most part, individuals required to provide proof of residency are those who register to vote on election day. There won’t be many, and as a group they should be younger (new voters), more transient (new state residents), and angrier (formerly inactive) than the general population. I suspect the provisionals will add to Kloppenburg’s lead.
Update II: Now there is one outstanding precinct and Kloppenburg has a 224 vote lead. The remaining county, Jefferson, went for Prosser 58% to 42%. Hence, if the precinct follows the overall county proportions, and is an average sized precinct for the county, Kloppenburg’s lead should be about 139 votes!
Last night I told Goldy last night I wanted Kloppenburg to come out 129 votes ahead (remember 2004?)…I may well get my wish!
Update III: Hmmm…I’ve been using the AP for election results, and they still have one precinct to go in Jefferson county. So I go to the Jefferson county web site and find updated numbers. Assuming none of the other numbers have changed, Prosser gains 2 votes when that last precinct is tallied.
Update IV: The AP has finally gotten that last precinct nailed. Some other numbers have changed a bit, probably as provisional ballots are resolved before the 4:00 pm CDT deadline (2:00 pm PDT).
The current tally has Kloppenburg leading Prosser by 204 votes.
Canvassing must be complete and reported by April 15th. The recount request from Prosser will come a few days later.
Update V: Too funny! Via WisPolitics:
“You’ve got a world driven by Madison, and a world driven by everybody else out across the majority of the rest of the state of Wisconsin,” Walker said at a press conference in the Capitol.
“For those who believe it’s a referendum, while it might have a statewide impact that we may lean one way or the other, it’s largely driven by Madison, and to a lesser extent Milwaukee,” the governor said.
Here is a beautiful map. Gosh…Madison has sure grown since I’ve lived there….it’s, like, one quarter of the state now! And who knew it had that “suburb” way up north along Lake Superior?
Of course, Walker was elected County Executive in Milwaukee county just a few years ago. And yesterday the county went 61% to 39% in favor of Democrat Chris Abele for the same position. And Milwaukee county went 57% to 43% in favor of Kloppenburg over incumbent Justice Prosser. (Ten years ago Prosser ran unopposed, so we cannot fairly compare the past results.)