A shift among independent voters was part of a seven point swing from previous elections that caused Governor Scott Walker to lose in a razor thin margin to Tony Evers on November 6. That was part of an analysis of what happened in the fall mid-term election presented by Marquette Poll Director Charles Franklin at the Chamber's Eggs & Issues breakfast on Friday, November 16.
Final polling showed that Democrats and Republicans voted almost unanimously for their own candidates, but that independents, who have favored Walker in previous elections, broke in Evers's direction this time. Coupled with significant increases in turnouts and margins in major metro areas like Madison and Milwaukee, it was enough for Evers to win. The chart below tells the story on overall vote margins. While Walker enjoyed a small, but consistent 52-53% of the vote in his three previous elections for Governor, this time around the a drop of just 3.6 percentage points from his 2014 victory resulted in a loss.
Franklin also noted a shift in perceptions of voters around key issues. While those citing health care as their most important issue in previous elections voted more Republican, this time a significant margin of those voting on health care favored the Democrat. Conversely, voters who were most concerned about the economy strongly favored Walker. See the chart below:
As previously noted, it was increased turnout and margins in cities that marked a major part of Evers' victory. In fact, most urban areas and small cities delivered higher margins for Evers than they did for Mary Burke in 2014, while rural areas voted more Republican than in the past. The counties, in order, with the highest turnout of registered voters were Dane, Door, Ozaukee, Waukesha and Eau Claire, each of which saw over 85% of registered voters going to the polls. Statewide, the turnout number was 82% in an election that saw a record percentage and total for a mid-term contest.
Indeed, the state's shifting population away from rural areas portends more of a change going forward and may have a big impact with redistricting on the horizon after the 2020 Census. The map below illustrates this shift, in which our own St. Croix and Eau Claire counties are the fifth and sixth fastest growing counties in the state.
Despite the turnover at the top of the ticket, and a strong victory by incumbent US Senator Tammy Baldwin, there was little change in the make up of the state legislature. In the State Senate, Republicans recaptured the Door County seat they lost in a special election earlier this year, going into 2019 with a 19-14 majority. In the State Assembly, Republican lost just one seat in the Milwaukee suburbs, meaning they'll still have a strong 63-36 governing majority. Franklin noted the party vote swing for legislative races overall was much smaller in the Democrat's direction that for Governor, meaning effectively no change in control.
Visuals from Eggs & issues presentation (Charles Franklin, Marquette Poll)
Marquette Poll Director brings mid-term analysis to Eau Claire (WEAU TV 13 News)
Pollster explains election results (Leader-Telegram)
Posted by Scott Rogers, Governmental Affairs & Workforce Director
Eau Claire Chamber
The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has more than 1,200 members.