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Results of the Wisconsin Primary February 17,2004 - History


Results of the Wisconsin Primary February 17,2004

Senator Kerry won again in Wisconsin, but Edwards strong second showing convinced him to continue to compete. On the other hand Dean's poor showing caused him to pull out of the race..



Tom Tiffany

Tom Tiffany (Republican Party) is a member of the U.S. House, representing Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District. He assumed office on May 19, 2020. His current term ends on January 3, 2023.

Tiffany (Republican Party) ran for re-election to the U.S. House to represent Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District. He won in the general election on November 3, 2020.

Tiffany also ran in a special election to the U.S. House to represent Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District. He won in the special general election on May 12, 2020.

Tiffany served in the Wisconsin State Senate, representing District 12 from 2013 to 2020. Tiffany resigned from the state senate on May 18, 2020, to be sworn in as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Ώ] Tiffany also served in the Wisconsin State Assembly, representing District 35 from 2011 to 2013.


Wisconsin Has Set A Historical Standard For Dems

Wisconsin is the next state to vote in the presidential primaries, with polls opening at 7 a.m. CT on Tuesday morning. There are 96 delegates at stake for the Democrats, with the 86 that are pledged allocated on a proportional basis between candidates. So if the margin between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is close — which, based on the numbers, it looks to be — both candidates will receive about the same amount of delegates, giving neither a big boost. But if delegates aren't going to make or break either campaign, why is the Wisconsin primary so important for Democrats?

According to the most recent polls, Sanders is ahead of Clinton in Wisconsin, with 47.9 percent of voter support compared to Clinton's 45.3 percent, so the margin is relatively small. Wisconsin is a classic swing state, with independent voters playing a huge role in which candidates win its primaries. Sanders currently has 57 percent of the Independent vote, while Clinton has 37 percent. But even with a small lead there, Wisconsin will be an important state to win specifically because of the history of whom it has voted for — and elected.

In 2008, Barack Obama beat Clinton in Wisconsin and went on to take the Democratic nomination. If Clinton were to lose again this time around, it could signal some Sanders momentum moving forward. In 2004, John Kerry won the Wisconsin primary and went on to get the Democratic nomination. The same goes for Al Gore in 2000. Basically, Wisconsin has voted for the Democratic primary winner many times.

This trend has been attributed to two very important elements, which will likely also play a role this time around. Because Wisconsin is halfway through the primaries, there are fewer options, and voters are pretty certain at this point whom they want to support. The other important factor, which ties into the first, is that Wisconsin's voter base is representative of the national population, and it is a state that has seen engaged citizens and political reform. Former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle told The Washington Post, "We’ve got industrial, urban, rural, small towns, colleges, high tech — it’s all here."

Based on presidential primaries past, the winner of Wisconsin's Democratic primary might just give us an important look into the country's future.


Wisconsin primary results from the past

As both parties find themselves in unexpectedly tough nomination battles, Wisconsin has become a critical primary state and the nation's eyes will be on the Badger State on Tuesday hoping to find some clarity in the voting results.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders hopes a big victory in Wisconsin can propel him past Hillary Clinton in a series of upcoming contests in the Northeast. On the Republican side, Ted Cruz is betting a big win in Wisconsin will slow Donald Trump's momentum enough to force a contested convention.

The most recent Marquette University Law School Poll released last week shows Sanders leading Clinton 49 percent to 45 percent with 6 percent undecided and Cruz leading Trump 40 percent to 30 percent. John Kasich is in third with 21 percent and 8 percent are undecided. The poll measures likely voters in both parties.

USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin will publish frequent updates from around the state all day Election Day to keep you on top of the latest news.

Meanwhile, here's a look back at voting numbers in recent Wisconsin presidential primaries in the state's most populous counties.

10 most populated counties in Wisconsin:

1. Milwaukee County (951,982, as of July 2014)

2. Dane County (508,973, as of July 2014)

3. Waukesha County (393,936, as of July 2014)

4. Brown County (255,072, as of July 2014)

5. Racine County (195,371, as of July 2014)

6. Outagamie County (181,114, as of July 2014)

7. Winnebago County (168,749, as of July 2014)

8. Kenosha County (167,604, as of July 2014)

9. Rock County (160,451, as of July 2014)

10. Marathon County (135,308, as of July 2014)

Top 10 counties voting in 2012 GOP primary:

Milwaukee: 89,697 total votes (Mitt Romney: 46,424)

Waukesha: 83,628 total votes (Mitt Romney: 51,355)

Dane: 58,302 total votes (Mitt Romney: 21,882)

Brown: 34,086 total votes (Rick Santorum: 14,858)

Washington: 28,448 total votes (Mitt Romney: 15,540)

Outagamie: 26,293 total votes (Rick Santorum: 10,673)

Racine: 26,065 total votes (Mitt Romney: 14,065)

Winnebago: 25,927 total votes (Mitt Romney: 10,281)

Ozaukee: 21,465 total votes (Mitt Romney: 13,074)

Marathon: 19,270 total votes (Rick Santorum: 8,858)

GOP STATEWIDE: 787,847 (Mitt Romney: 346,876 Rick Santorum: 290,139 Rand Paul: 87,858 Newt Gingrich: 45,978)

2012 General Election: Barack Obama/Joe Biden: 1,620,985 Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan: 1,407,966

Top 10 counties voting in 2008 Democratic primary:

Milwaukee: 208,042 total votes (Barack Obama: 132,501)

Dane: 141,350 total votes (Barack Obama: 95,416)

Waukesha: 72,250 total votes (Barack Obama: 37,662)

Brown: 43,798 total votes (Barack Obama: 24,737)

Racine: 37,324 total votes (Barack Obama: 20,625)

Outagamie: 30,968 total votes (Barack Obama: 18,359)

Winnebago: 30,508 total votes (Barack Obama: 18,303)

Kenosha: 30,388 total votes (Barack Obama: 15,467)

Rock: 31,00 total votes (Barack Obama: 17,525)

Marathon: 24,72 total votes (Barack Obama: 13,363)

DEM STATEWIDE: 1,113,753 (Barack Obama: 646,851 Hillary Clinton: 453,954)

2008 General Election: 2,983,417 (Barack Obama/Joe Biden: 1,677,211 John McCain/Sarah Palin: 1,262,393)

Top 10 counties voting in 2008 GOP primary:

Milwaukee: 48,004 total votes (John McCain: 29,849)

Waukesha: 45,082 total votes (John McCain: 28,160)

Dane: 24,609 total votes (John McCain: 13,818)

Brown: 17,659 total votes (John McCain: 9,862)

Racine: 14,438 total votes (John McCain: 8,338)

Washington: 13,845 total votes (John McCain: 8,403)

Outagamie: 13,557 total votes (John McCain: 7,198)

Winnebago: 13,079 total votes (John McCain: 7,746)

Sheboygan: 10,744 total votes (John McCain: 5,489)

Kenosha: 10,495 total votes (John McCain: 5,935)

GOP STATEWIDE: 410,607 (John McCain: 224,755 Mike Huckabee: 151,707 Rand Paul: 19,090 Mitt Romney: 8,080 Fred Thompson: 2,709)

2008 General Election: 2,983,417 (Barack Obama/Joe Biden: 1,677,211 John McCain/Sarah Palin: 1,262,393)

Top 10 counties voting in 2004 Democratic primary:

Milwaukee: 189,135 total votes (John Kerry: 76,901)

Dane: 125,363 total votes (John Kerry: 45,777)

Waukesha: 51,286 total votes (John Edwards: 21,409)

Racine: 27,248 total votes (John Kerry: 10,338)

Brown: 26,542 total votes (John Kerry: 10,501)

Rock: 24,600 total votes (John Kerry: 10,552)

Winnebago: 19,673 total votes (John Kerry: 7,980)

Outagamie: 19,022 total votes (John Kerry: 7,648)

Kenosha: 17,783 total votes (John Kerry: 7,701)

Marathon: 17,195 total votes (John Kerry: 7,113)

DEM STATEWIDE: 828,364 (John Kerry: 328,358 John Edwards: 284,163 Howard Dean: 150,845 Dennis Kucinich: 27,353 Al Sharpton: 14,701 Wesley Clark: 12,713)

2004 General Election: 2,997,007 (John Kerry/John Edwards: 1,489,504 George W. Bush/Dick Cheney: 1,478,120)

Top 10 counties voting in 2000 Democratic Primary:

Milwaukee: 92,124 total votes (Al Gore: 81,967)

Dane: 38,452 total votes (Al Gore: 30,971)

Waukesha: 17,266 total votes (Al Gore: 15,086)

Brown: 15,816 total votes (Al Gore: 14,671)

Racine: 11,568 total votes (Al Gore: 10,342)

Rock: 8,869 total votes (Al Gore: 7,922)

Marathon: 8,505 total votes (Al Gore: 7,729)

Outagamie: 8,155 total votes (Al Gore: 7,347)

Winnebago: 7,546 total votes (Al Gore: 6,705)

Kenosha: 7,490 total votes (Al Gore: 6,676)

DEM STATEWIDE: 371,196 (Al Gore: 328,682 Bill Bradley: 32,560 Lyndon Larouche, Jr.: 3,743)

2000 General Election: 2,598,607 (Al Gore/Joe Lieberman: 1,242,987 George W. Bush/Dick Cheney: 1,237,279)

Top 10 counties voting in 2000 GOP primary:

Milwaukee: 83,142 total votes (George W. Bush: 57,701)

Waukesha: 46,854 total votes (George W. Bush: 35,527)

Dane: 32,867 total votes (George W. Bush: 19,722)

Brown: 23,539 total votes (George W. Bush: 16,843)

Racine: 16,563 total votes (George W. Bush: 11,918)

Outagamie: 14,338 total votes (George W. Bush: 9.013)

Winnebago: 14,097 total votes (George W. Bush: 9,095)

Washington: 12,893 total votes (George W. Bush: 9,757)

Sheboygan: 11,600 total votes (George W. Bush: 8,493)

Ozaukee: 11,514 total votes (George W. Bush: 8,773)

GOP STATEWIDE: 495,769 (George W. Bush: 343,292 John McCain: 89,684 Alan Keyes: 48,919 Steve Forbes: 5,505 Gary Bauer: 1,813 Orrin Hatch: 1,712)


Record absentee ballots sustain turnout in Wisconsin primary

Despite safety concerns and a legal battle over holding an election during the coronavirus pandemic, turnout in Wisconsin’s Democratic presidential primary this month was roughly the same as in recent election cycles, driven by a state record for absentee ballots and thousands of people who still went to the polls amid the public health crisis.

Up until the day before the election, it was unclear whether voting would even take place. Democrats, led by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, pushed to delay the election for public health reasons, but Republicans opposed the delay and the political fight spilled into the courts. In a pair of last-minute rulings, the state Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the election would proceed as planned on April 7.

Ultimately, a total of 924,151 people voted in the Democratic presidential primary — down from approximately 1 million votes in the state’s 2016 primary race and 1.1 million in 2008.

Former Vice President Joe Biden beat Sen. Bernie Sanders by a wide margin, in what turned out to be the last contested primary of the year. Sanders dropped out of the race the day after the election. Sanders endorsed Biden on Monday, the day the state released the election results.

Wisconsin also held statewide and local elections on the same day as the primary, and turnout surged in a closely watched race for a seat on the state’s Supreme Court. Turnout topped 1.5 million, the second-highest total for a state Supreme Court election in Wisconsin in two decades.

Overall, nearly 1.1 million voters mailed in absentee ballots out of a total 1.5 million votes cast, according to state election data — a major increase from previous elections and a record for Wisconsin. The state has not yet released more detailed statistics for absentee ballots, but it was clear from the initial returns that in-person voting was down across the state.

The primary came in the midst of a monthlong stay-at-home order in Wisconsin. Nevertheless, thousands of voters did show up at the polls, waiting in line for hours in some parts of the state. Many wore face masks and stood several feet apart as they waited to vote, observing social distancing guidelines for avoiding the spread of the coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 illness.

“People really were risking their health and their safety and their lives in order to exercise their right to vote,” Jill Karofsky, a district court judge and the winner of the state Supreme Court race, said in a phone interview.

Cities across the state consolidated polling locations due to a lack of poll workers and concerns that in-person turnout would be lower than expected. Milwaukee, which usually has 181 polling sites, had just five in operation on April 7.

Green Bay had just two polling sites open, down from around 30. “We ended up with lines lasting over four hours. People who couldn’t wait that long left and didn’t get a chance to vote,” said Bill Galvin, an alderperson on the Green Bay Common Council.

Election volunteer Nancy Gavney verifies voter and witness signatures on absentee ballots as they are counted at the City Hall during the presidential primary election in Beloit, Wisconsin, on April 7, 2020. REUTERS/Daniel Acker

Elsewhere, the lines were shorter and there was less crowding. The city of Kenosha closed half of its 21 polling sites, said Bill Siel, a city official, and there were fewer issues with long lines at polling sites in the city.

But Siel and other officials said in-person voting should not have taken place at all during the pandemic, particularly because it happened during the state-wide stay-at-home order.

“We’re waiting to see if there will be a spike [in coronavirus cases] from all that contact” at polling sites, Siel said. “I definitely think there could have been a much better way to conduct this election.”

In the fight by Democrats to delay the primary, Republicans argued that expanding absentee voting was impractical and could lead to voter fraud. Democrats claimed Republicans wanted the election to proceed as planned because it would lead to lower turnout and help GOP candidates in state and local elections.

In the final week before the election, Republicans also appealed a lower court ruling extending the deadline for absentee voting. Hours before the election, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the extension, adding to the sense of uncertainty in the final hours before polls were set to open.

The state was hurt by the “chaos and pandemonium at the end, and different confusing court orders that came out,” said Mark Graul, a Republican strategist in Wisconsin. The final turnout was all the more impressive given the challenges surrounding the election, he added.

“The fact that we were able to pull this election off under these circumstances, with this turnout, was remarkable,” Graul said.

Others said Wisconsin was a cautionary tale for states that haven’t held elections yet this year. Several states moved their primaries to June in response to the public health crisis.

“States that have not had their primary elections yet need to take a good hard look at everything that went right and wrong in Wisconsin and make some real tough decisions,” said Galvin.

Charles Franklin, the director of the Marquette Law School Poll, said the results in Wisconsin proved voter enthusiasm remains high despite the pandemic. “We saw the potential here for absentee voting substantially driven by the voters themselves,” Franklin said.

Left: An election worker walks between lines of voters at Hamilton High School during the presidential primary election, held amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on April 7, 2020. REUTERS/Daniel Acke


Trump has longstanding history of calling elections 'rigged' if he doesn’t like the results

The president has refused to acknowledge his loss to Joe Biden.

Trump challenges the vote and takes legal action

It's been over a week since the polls closed on Election Day, and a few days since President-elect Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential race, and still, President Donald Trump has not accepted the results of the election.

What Trump has done is continue to double down on his claims that this year's election was "rigged" and there were massive amounts of voter fraud nationwide that cost him his victory.

There is no truth to the claims that there was widespread voter fraud in the election, yet the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee are pursuing lawsuits in several states claiming that there was. Despite their complaints, they have not provided any evidence of fraud or corroborated any of the president's claims.

This is not the first time Trump has made claims about election fraud when the results do not please him. It has been a part of his playbook for years -- long before he entered politics.

2012 general election

On election night in 2012, when President Barack Obama was reelected, Trump said that the election was a "total sham" and a "travesty," while also making the claim that the United States is "not a democracy" after Obama secured his victory.

Trump even wrote on Twitter, "We can't let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!"

There was no truth to the claims that Obama's election victory against Sen. Mitt Romney was a "sham" and the democratic process played out in 2012 as it is doing now and has with every election, as the votes are tabulated and certified by states and local officials.

Trump also previously called for the American people, presumably those who didn't vote for Obama, to "fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice," because "the world is laughing at us."

Trump first challenged the election results in 2012, continued to do so in 2016 and has now done it again in 2020.

2016 primary and general election

When he ran to become the Republican Party nominee in 2016, he attempted to cast doubt on the election process. Trump said he did not lose the Iowa caucuses in 2016 to then candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, because he "stole it."

"Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad!" Trump wrote on Twitter at the time.

He also wrote, "Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified."

Cruz was the clear victor for the Republican Iowa caucus in 2016, as he defeated Trump by three percentage points.

In October 2016, just weeks before the general election, Trump wanted to cast doubt on the results by tweeting, "The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary - but also at many polling places - SAD," without providing any evidence for the claim.

Even after the election ended and it was clear that Clinton had lost and conceded victory to Trump, the president didn't stop lamenting over the election he had won. He quickly made the claim that he also won the popular vote over Clinton, which is something that did not happen.

"In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," said Trump.

The president lost the popular vote to Clinton by nearly 3 million votes, and there was no evidence of voter fraud then, just as there is no evidence of voter fraud now.

2020 general election

Fast forward to today, Trump took to his favorite platform, just moments before major media outlets had projected Biden the winner in this year's election, and falsely tweeted, "I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!"

That tweet was flagged by Twitter because Trump was not declared the victor, and because for months since his rally on Aug. 17 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin -- when he famously said, "The only way we're going to lose this election is if the election is rigged" -- Trump has been attempting to cast doubt on the American electoral process.

Trump continued to attack mail-in ballots and absentee ballots well into the fall months so that when the ballots were to be tabulated, he could cast doubt and speculate that he was the victim of fraud due to the vote-by-mail system.

On Twitter, the day after Election Day, as Biden's lead was becoming more evident in several states, Trump tweeted, "They are finding Biden votes all over the place — in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. So bad for our Country!'

The next day, the president made the claim that he has always said mail-in ballots are not to be trusted.

"I've been talking about mail-in voting for a long time. It's -- it's really destroyed our system. It's a corrupt system. And it makes people corrupt even if they aren't by nature, but they become corrupt it's too easy. They want to find out how many votes they need, and then they seem to be able to find them. They wait and wait and then they find them," Trump said two days after Election Day.

As mail-in ballots continued to be counted, states like Pennsylvania began to show a clear Biden lead.

In the days after Election Day, Trump continued to make falsehoods on Twitter, which the social media platform quickly flagged. "WATCH FOR MASSIVE BALLOT COUNTING ABUSE. REMEMBER I TOLD YOU SO!" he tweeted, claiming that ballot harvesting took place and he was right about the potential of it happening.

Trump has stuck to this playbook for years however, his claims have never prompted a meaningful change in the election process.

This time, the president is taking his claims through the legal system with no evidence to back them up. Meanwhile, the campaign is continuing to raise money for the battles, as it's clear the president isn't willing to give up quickly.

This report was featured in the Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020, episode of “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.

"Start Here" offers a straightforward look at the day's top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, the ABC News app or wherever you get your podcasts.


‘I Am Stunned’: Wisconsin Democrats’ Improbable Victory

A decisive liberal triumph in a hard-fought judicial race eased fears that Republicans would exploit the coronavirus to their advantage.

Updated at 3:23 p.m. ET on April 14

H ow could Democrats win a statewide election that they had seemingly conceded—that they had tried in vain to prevent from even taking place?

That was the question in Wisconsin this morning, after the party celebrated the unlikely ouster of a conservative justice in a crucial race for a seat on the state’s highest court. With former Vice President Joe Biden now the presumptive Democratic nominee, following Senator Bernie Sanders’s withdrawal from the presidential race, the results of the party primary had become moot. The far more consequential race was the judicial election, and Judge Jill Karofsky’s defeat of incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly gave Democrats an important victory—delayed by nearly a week as a deluge of absentee ballots was counted—in what was essentially a trial run for the November election in the closely divided swing state.

But the bigger mystery was how it had happened at all.

In the days leading up to last Tuesday’s vote, Democrats had done all they could to call off in-person balloting in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, either by switching to an all-mail election or by postponing the vote until June. Republicans had rebuffed them at every turn, insisting that the election go on as scheduled, even if it meant voters would have to risk their health—and violate a statewide stay-at-home directive—to cast a ballot at the few polling places that had enough workers to staff them. (In Milwaukee, the state’s largest city, just five out of 180 polling places were open.) When Democratic Governor Tony Evers issued a last-minute order to postpone the election, Republicans persuaded conservatives on both the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court to block him.

By the day of the election, Democrats were handcuffed: They had ceased all efforts to turn out voters in person, and it was too late to push more supporters to request ballots by mail.

“We’ll find out if Republicans succeeded in stealing the election by weaponizing the pandemic,” declared Ben Wikler, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, on a conference call with reporters before the results were released yesterday. He urged Wisconsinites who may have been disenfranchised to keep records of their attempt to vote, suggesting that they or the party could challenge the legitimacy of the election in court.

A few hours later, fears of a grand electoral larceny had swiftly melted away: Karofsky had won, and with a nearly 11-point margin in a state Donald Trump had carried by less than a single percentage point in 2016, it wasn’t even close.

“I am stunned,” Wikler told me when we spoke by phone shortly before midnight last night. The party’s internal polls had forecast “a close election,” he said—nothing like the relative romp Karofsky had won.

Republicans won a narrow victory in a supreme-court race last year, but the scheduling of this year’s election on the same day as the Democratic presidential primary—when the GOP had no competitive nomination fight to boost turnout—gave Karofsky a significant advantage. The parties had poured money into the judicial race, which would determine whether conservatives would maintain a 5–2 advantage on the supreme court or whether liberals would narrow it to 4–3. The outcome could also have a direct impact on the November election in Wisconsin, since the court appeared divided in a case it will likely have to decide, over whether more than 200,000 voters are dropped from the state’s rolls.

Then came the pandemic, which scrambled everything. The Democrats’ panic over holding the election the closure of all but five polling places in Milwaukee, where the party has its largest concentration of votes and the GOP’s insistence that the election go forward gave way to assumptions that Kelly would coast to victory.

“There was an array of very powerful factors blowing in opposite directions,” Wikler said.

Were the Democrats crying wolf over a catastrophe that didn’t happen? Were Republicans actually more disadvantaged by the reduction in in-person voting, because it was their base of older voters who couldn’t get to the polls and was unfamiliar with the requirements for voting by mail? Or did the GOP’s refusal to encourage more participation or postpone the election motivate Wisconsinites to turn out and punish it?

“The Republicans’ effort to suppress turned people out to vote against them,” says Dakota Hall, a Milwaukee activist who runs a group devoted to organizing young voters of color. As for older voters who might have been forced to risk their health to cast a ballot, Hall says: “They conspired against their own base.”

Wisconsin Republicans chalked up Kelly’s loss to the fact that the Democratic presidential primary, which was still nominally competitive, drove a one-sided turnout advantage for Democrats. Andrew Hitt, the state Republican Party chairman, rejected the suggestion that voters had punished Republicans for opposing changes to the election. “The lesson to learn is we can have an election in this scenario,” Hitt told me this afternoon, “and we will be even more prepared to encourage early vote, absentee voting and making sure our people are able to vote” in the fall. He said Republicans had “no problem” with early and absentee voting but opposed Democrats’ push to implement an entirely vote-by-mail system in Wisconsin.

Trevor Potter, a Republican former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, told me this morning that GOP leaders in Wisconsin had made “a tactical mistake” in fostering confusion and chaos in the run-up to the election. “They should learn that chaos is bad,” said Potter, who is also a member of the National Task Force on Election Crises, a group trying to protect the November vote from a range of threats. “It’s bad for their voters just as much as the Democratic voters, maybe in Wisconsin more so.”

He noted that the party’s recent opposition to absentee vote by mail—bolstered by denunciations of the format by President Trump—was perplexing given that it has traditionally been an area of strength for Republicans, and particularly for their base of older voters.

Yet even an unexpected victory brought mixed emotions for Democrats. Turnout was higher than it was in 2019, and perhaps higher than feared given the pandemic, but it still fell far short of the turnout for the presidential primary in 2016. Thousands of voters may have been disenfranchised on both sides, and especially in places such as Milwaukee, which is home to 70 percent of Wisconsin’s African American population.

“It was a national disgrace,” Hall told me. He said Milwaukee’s turnout fell off by more than one-third from 2016 while the use of absentee balloting surged across the city and state, it disadvantaged college students and voters of color in particular. “Those numbers are really shocking to me, and I don’t blame people,” Hall said. “They prioritized their health over their vote, which is absolutely fair and valid in this moment.”

Hall did vote—or at least he tried to. He didn’t receive his absentee ballot until the Saturday before the election, six days after he requested it. He doesn’t know if the clerk’s office received it in time. “I’m still wondering if my vote has been cast,” Hall said.

The clear results in the marquee court race brought some relief not to only to Democratic partisans but to voting-rights advocates who feared that a narrow margin would sow distrust in the election system and prompt an even larger court battle over the validity of the outcome. “We’re lucky that democracy didn’t completely fail. It came close to it, unfortunately, in a really serious way,” says Edward Foley, another task-force member, who runs the election-law department at Ohio State University. “But the good news is, it seems the voters, despite all the problems, got the winner that they wanted, and that’s ultimately what matters.”

Foley warns, however, that the results in Wisconsin should not slow momentum in the push for other big swing states, such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, to build out their election infrastructure in preparation for a surge of vote-by-mail requests this fall.

“Just because you miss one disaster, because you get lucky, doesn’t mean you’re ready for the next one,” he says. “Don’t let the landslide in Wisconsin make you think everything is okay. Every voter who is disenfranchised is wrongly disenfranchised, whether it’s a landslide or not.”


Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries

Democrats rode a wave of firsts on Tuesday, becoming in Vermont the first major party to nominate an openly transgender person for governor, while potentially picking the first African-American Democrat to serve in the House from Connecticut.

They were among the big highlights from a round of primaries across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Vermont that also featured state Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Muslim woman who emerged as the Democratic nominee for a House seat currently held by another Muslim, Rep. Keith Ellison Keith EllisonMinneosta AG's office to prosecute case against officer charged in killing of Daunte Wright State trial for former officers charged in George Floyd's death moved to next year Lawyer for former officer charged in George Floyd death alleges witness coercion MORE (D-Minn.).

Meanwhile, establishment candidates prevailed in Senate races in Wisconsin, where state Sen. Leah Vukmir, who won the endorsement of the state GOP earlier this year, emerged victorious over Marine Corps veteran Kevin Nicholson, a former Democrat who cast himself as a political outsider.

Likewise, in Minnesota, Sen. Tina Smith Tina Flint SmithUsher attends Juneteenth bill signing at White House Schumer vows to only pass infrastructure package that is 'a strong, bold climate bill' Top union unveils national town hall strategy to push Biden's jobs plan MORE (D) overcame a challenge from Richard Painter, a former ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, in one of the state’s Democratic Senate primaries.

Here are the five takeaways from Tuesday’s primaries:

The establishment flexes its muscle

It was a good night for the establishment, especially in Wisconsin’s GOP primary for Senate.

Vukmir, who won the Wisconsin Republican Party’s endorsement in May, edged out first-time candidate Nicholson in the state’s GOP Senate primary, setting her up to challenge incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin Tammy Suzanne BaldwinOvernight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Democrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination Overnight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 MORE (D) in November.

Vukmir won the support of prominent Republicans and conservatives groups, including House Speaker Paul Ryan Paul Davis RyanNow we know why Biden was afraid of a joint presser with Putin Zaid Jilani: Paul Ryan worried about culture war distracting from issues 'that really concern him' The Memo: Marjorie Taylor Greene exposes GOP establishment's lack of power MORE (R-Wis.), former White House chief of staff and Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus Reinhold (Reince) Richard PriebusDemocrats claim vindication, GOP cries witch hunt as McGahn finally testifies Biden's is not a leaky ship of state — not yet Governor races to test COVID-19 response, Trump influence MORE , and the National Rifle Association.

Nicholson sought to cast Vukmir, a longtime player in Wisconsin Republican politics and an ally of Gov. Scott Walker (R), as a political insider. But that line of attack failed to work with Wisconsin's GOP primary voters.

That's not to say that President Trump Donald TrumpMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back Republicans eye Nashville crack-up to gain House seat MORE was absent from the race. Though he didn't endorse anybody, Vukmir often name-checked Trump’s policy proposals on the campaign trail, expressing her support for his long-promised border wall and pledging to help “drain the swamp” in Washington.

Her support for Trump was meant to inoculate herself from charges from Nicholson that she had been insufficiently loyal to the president.

Vukmir had made critical comments of Trump in the past and initially supported Walker during the 2016 GOP presidential primaries, before backing Sen. Marco Rubio Marco Antonio RubioRubio calls on Biden to allow Naval Academy graduate to play in NFL Florida governor adept student of Trump playbook White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE (R-Fla.).

But as a former Democrat, Nicholson was also vulnerable in a Republican primary, and he ultimately failed to make much of his Trump attacks against Vukmir.

The establishment also held strong in a couple of Minnesota primaries.

Smith, who was appointed to the seat after Sen. Al Franken Alan (Al) Stuart FrankenDemocrats, GOP face crowded primaries as party leaders lose control Gillibrand: 'I definitely want to run for president again' Maher chides Democrats: We 'suck the fun out of everything' MORE ’s resignation, cruised to victory over Painter. Smith, the former lieutenant governor, has deep ties to Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which endorsed her in the special election.

And in the 1st District, Republican Jim Hagedorn, who’s making his fourth run for Congress, won the GOP primary in the race to replace Rep. Tim Walz Tim WalzMinnesota offering state fair tickets, fishing licenses to promote coronavirus vaccines Overnight Health Care: States begin lifting mask mandates after new CDC guidance | Walmart, Trader Joe's will no longer require customers to wear masks | CDC finds Pfizer, Moderna vaccines 94 percent effective in health workers Minnesota House votes to legalize marijuana MORE (D-Minn.). Hagedorn, the 2016 nominee who came close to unseating Walz, scored the state party’s endorsement.

One glaring exception was in Minnesota’s governor race, where former Gov. Tim Pawlenty failed to make a comeback bid. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson won the Republican primary instead, after closely aligning himself with Trump.

Democrats make history

Democrats have been making history this cycle as more female, LGBT and minority candidates run for Congress — and win.

In Vermont, Democrats elected the first transgender gubernatorial nominee of a major political party after Christine Hallquist, a first-time candidate and the former CEO of the state’s electricity co-op, emerged as the winner of the primary.

She now faces Republican Gov. Phil Scott in November, though it’ll be an uphill climb for Democrats to take back the governor’s mansion. Vermont may be a blue state, and one that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton Hillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: The center strikes back Democratic clamor grows for select committee on Jan. 6 attack White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE easily won in 2016, but Scott remains popular, winning his first term by 8 points that same year.

And in Minnesota’s 5th District, Omar won in a crowded Democratic primary, and she’ll likely be among the first Muslim women elected to Congress along with former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who won her Michigan Democratic primary earlier this month.

Omar ran in the race to replace Ellison, who in 2006 was the first Muslim elected to Congress. A Somali-American, she was endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a democratic socialist who defeated a longtime incumbent in a New York House primary.

And in the race to replace Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), Democrat Jahana Hayes, the 2016 Teacher of the Year, would be the first African-American Democrat elected to Congress from Connecticut — if she wins the general election in November.

'Ironstache' wins, but faces complicated path in race for Ryan's seat

Ironworker Randy Bryce may have secured the Democratic nomination to replace Ryan, the retiring House Speaker, in the southeast Wisconsin district, but it’s not likely to be smooth sailing for the candidate dubbed “Ironstache” as he heads into the general election.

The mustachioed 53-year-old garnered a reputation as a rising Democratic star after he announced his candidacy last summer in an emotional video about how his mother was struggling to afford vital drugs, which quickly went viral.

But Bryce faced a tougher-than-expected challenge from Janesville school board member Cathy Myers after being hit by a series of negative headlines regarding his past arrests for marijuana possession and driving under the influence, as well as the revelation that he failed to pay child support until after he declared his House bid.

Those revelations are sure to fuel Republican attacks ahead of November, complicating his campaign fight against Republican Bryan Steil, who also secured his party’s nomination on Tuesday.

Steil is a former aide to Ryan and received the endorsement of the outgoing Speaker. What’s more, the Cook Political Report rates the district as "leaning Republican," meaning Bryce and the Democrats are almost certain to face a tough path in flipping Wisconsin’s 1st District.

Will abuse allegations rock Ellison's bid for AG in November?

Ellison easily won the Democratic primary for Minnesota attorney general, but it remains to be seen how his campaign will be affected going forward by recent domestic abuse allegations.

Ellison won 51 percent of the vote against four other Democrats in the open-seat race. Ellison had been considered the front-runner since he announced his candidacy in June.

But in recent days Ellison has faced abuse allegations after the son of his ex-girlfriend posted on Facebook that he watched a video where the congressman allegedly dragged his mother off a bed and shouted profanities at her.

The ex-girlfriend, Karen Monahan, backed up her son’s account. But Ellison denies those allegations, saying that the video referenced doesn’t exist.

It’s still unclear how, or if, the allegations will roil Ellison’s campaign going forward. But they’re being taken seriously. The Democratic National Committee said on Tuesday that it is “reviewing” the abuse allegations levied at Ellison, who serves as the committee's vice chairman.

Ellison will face former state Rep. Doug Wardlow in November.

'Medicare for all' winning among Democrats

"Medicare for all" may not be fading from the headlines any time soon after a number of Democrats won their respective primaries after campaigning heavily on that health-care message

Few candidates did it as poignantly as Bryce, who made single-payer health care a critical part of his campaign messaging, including in his viral campaign announcement video featuring his mother. He was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders Bernie SandersThe Memo: The center strikes back Sanders against infrastructure deal with more gas taxes, electric vehicle fees Sunday shows - Voting rights, infrastructure in the spotlight MORE (I-Vt.), who has championed Medicare for all legislation in the Senate.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, Omar ran a progressive platform that includes a single-payer system among other progressive issues. And in Connecticut, Hayes also backs Medicare for all, as does Hallquist in Vermont.

Republicans have already indicated that they plan to weaponize Medicare for all, arguing that it’ll spook more moderate voters in competitive seats. But Democrats who ran on this platform will ensure that it’ll likely remain a campaign issue — provided they continue to talk about it frequently in a general election.


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