Craig Gilbert, the authority on Wisconsin politics, provides a statewide voting breakdown of the Wisconsin recall results and identifies the areas likely to decide the 2012 Presidential race for the Badger State:
In geographic terms, the big story of the state’s June 5 election was Walker’s striking performance outside the Milwaukee and Madison media markets. In demographic terms, it was Walker’s rural landslide. Is what happened “out-state” a warning sign for Democrats — and President Obama — in November?
No matter how huge their margins in Milwaukee and Dane counties, Democrats can’t win statewide if their geographic base is as narrow as it was June 5, when Tom Barrett won only 12 of 72 counties and only six outside the state’s southern tier. Much of the swing vote in Wisconsin can be found outside the Madison and Milwaukee TV markets, which contain the state’s most partisan Democratic counties (Milwaukee, Dane) and most partisan Republican counties (Waukesha, Washington, Ozaukee).
- Wausau TV market contains 11 counties in north central Wisconsin. Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle won the Wausau market by 11 points in 2006. Democrat Barack Obama won it by 12 in 2008. Then Republican Walker won it by 12 points in 2010 and by 18 points in 2012.
- Green Bay market. Obama carried it by seven points in 2008 and Walker carried it by 23 in 2012.
- La Crosse-Eau Claire market. Obama carried it by 19 points in 2008 and Walker carried it by nine points in 2012.
Many of the same out-state counties Obama carried by single or double digits in 2008, Walker ran away with in 2012. (To take just one example, Obama won Kewaunee County by 11 points in ’08; Walker won it by 29 on June 5).
The fact that Walker won them by such unusual margins is clearly an encouraging sign for Republicans in November. By the same token, Walker’s performance in some areas of outstate Wisconsin was so exceptional it may be hard for other Republicans to duplicate.
The changing geographic split in Wisconsin:
Wisconsin has long had an East-West partisan divide, with Republicans stronger in the East (excluding Milwaukee) and Democrats stronger in the West. But this race featured a North-South divide as well, thanks in part to what happened with rural voters.