Last Tuesday, Wisconsin re-elected Ron Johnson to the U.S. Senate, voted for President-elect Donald Trump to become the next leader of the United States and sent every single incumbent Republican member back to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Even at the state level, Republicans maintained control of the Capitol, strengthening their majorities in both the Senate and Assembly.
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Though there are certainly issues to be worked out with polling both within Wisconsin and on a national level, very few could have predicted that Wisconsin would turn such a deep, intense shade of red.
Democrats in the state were beaming with confidence on the night of Nov. 7 that they would propel former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and former Senator Russ Feingold to victory, and potentially reclaim seats in the 6th, 7th and 8th districts in the House, perhaps even taking a substantial chunk out of the Republican majority at the state level.
They were so wrong.
Previously, Wisconsin has been thought of as a fairly liberal state. Up until this year, Wisconsin had voted for Democrats in the White House every election since 1988.
In the U.S. Senate, Wisconsin has a relatively back and forth voting record as the seats seem to switch back and forth from Republican to Democrat every few terms. Often, Wisconsin sends one senator from each party to Washington.
When people see Wisconsin, the bright lights of the “liberal college town” that is Madison, and read about the state’s proud union history, they assume it’s blue.
After last Tuesday, that assumption should be put to rest.
In fact, that assumption should have ended several years ago — but apparently nobody told that to the Clinton campaign.
Ever since the 2012 presidential election, when President Barack Obama won Wisconsin for a second time and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin won her first term in the Senate, this state has gone Republican at just about every possible turn.
Wisconsin’s elections in the past several years resulted in the state voting for a Republican for president, U.S. Senator, governor, state attorney general, two state Supreme Court justices and the majority of the seats in the House, the state Senate and the state Assembly.
Democrats in the state have been virtually locked out for the past four to six years.
Whether we like it or not, Wisconsin is a Republican state now.
You can say what you want about Democratic turnout in Milwaukee and Dane County, but the fact of the matter is that it isn’t happening anymore.
In the short term, this will undoubtedly make life much harder for Wisconsinites hoping for a progressive future for the state.
In the long term, this means that, hopefully, the Democratic Party will invest the time and money to ensure that Democrats take back a state that really has no rational reason to keep going red.