Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Student voters expected to have significant impact on Wisconsin Senate elections

Abortion among top issues for students, UW expert says
Soren Goldsmith

Data from the 2022 midterm election reveals Wisconsin led youth voter turnout, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Student votes are expected to have a major impact on the outcome of the 2024 senate election, according to University of Wisconsin student and Wisconsin Union Directorate society and politics director Benjamin Jaccard.

To appeal to a larger portion of voters in Wisconsin, candidates Eric Hovde and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) should address issues students have deemed a priority, according to Elections Research Center emeritus affiliate Lewis Friedland. These include international issues, such as the Israel-Hamas war and local issues like housing affordability and tuition increases, Jaccard said.

Wisconsin-centered issues, including manufacturing job access, community support for Wisconsin veterans and lowering prescription drug prices statewide, are priorities for Baldwin, according to her campaign website.


Baldwin’s willingness to connect with students has made her an electable candidate, GOP Badgers chair Thomas Pyle said.

“She is a very personable person, I had the opportunity to meet her and she was extraordinarily nice,” Pyle said. “I think that makes her very electable and it allows her to focus more on local issues.”

Hovde has focused his campaign on national issues, such as border security, inflation and foreign policy, according to his website.

While border security and inflation are prominent on the national level, these issues may not resonate as deeply with Wisconsin residents and students for this statewide election, Jaccard said.

“It’s just not something that is necessarily going to be the most salient political issue for a statewide race like this,” Jaccard said. “I think that the issues that he’s choosing to focus on might not resonate as deeply on the community level.”

But, out-of-state students voting in Wisconsin may find Hovde’s broad campaign attractive and relatable, Pyle said.

Further, Hovde’s campaign focuses are becoming increasingly relevant in Wisconsin, Pyle said. For example, Wisconsin communities — not just large cities like Chicago and New York — have been experiencing the impacts of migration surges, according to PBS Wisconsin.

Some cities in Wisconsin are experiencing an influx in people living in the U.S. without documentation, so residents start to feel immigration on a local level, Pyle said.

Baldwin has been an incumbent in Congress since 1998 when she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, according to her campaign website. Therefore, she can run her campaign based on important legislation she has helped pass, Friedland said.

For example, Baldwin helped draft and pass the Afforable Care Act, which allows students to remain under their parents’ insurance until the age of 26, a focal point for her campaign, Friedland said.

But Baldwin’s history in politics may upset Republican voters due to out-of-state funding records for her campaign, according to Pyle.

“I think Republicans will most likely try to use the money coming from out of the state against Baldwin on campaign ads, so that’ll probably be the biggest impact on outcomes of the election,” Pyle said.

Hovde self-funded over 92.51% of his Wisconsin Senate campaign in 2012, according to Open SecretsHovde’s self-funded campaign is likely to appeal to Republican voters and counterbalance his lack of name recognition relative to Baldwin, Friedland said.

One issue at the forefront of all voters’ priorities, including students, is abortion, Jaccard said.

On the national level, Democrats are associated with pro-abortion rights and Republicans with anti-abortion rights, Jaccard said. Due to the impact reproductive rights might have on upcoming elections, it is important students understand a candidate’s stance on abortion rights rather than rely on assumptions based on party affiliation, Pyle said.

Baldwin introduced the Women’s Health Protection Act in March 2023, which, if made law, would federally enshrine the right to abortion, according to her website. Baldwin’s pro-abortion rights stance may give her an advantage in the race, especially in left-leaning areas like Dane County, Pyle said.

Hovde has said he does not believe in a total abortion ban and that the practice should be legal early on in a pregnancy, according to a statement Hovde made in Milwaukee during a campaign stop, as reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Regardless of students’ decisions when it comes time to vote, it is important to research candidates’ positions on issues beyond their political party affiliation before deciding at the polls, Jaccard and Pyle said. Students can stay informed by watching senate debates and writing a letter to the campaign, Pyle said.

“It matters so much what we do here in a swing state and we can really make a difference by getting out to vote,” Jaccard said. “So whoever you support, whatever you care about, it’s so important to vote.”

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