Voting is a cornerstone of American democracy and gives citizens a voice in choosing the elected officials whose decisions impact us, not only personally, but often professionally for those who work in highly regulated industries. With that in mind, take a few minutes to educate yourself on what you need to know to cast your vote on Election Day – Tuesday, November 8th.
- Wisconsin allows both traditional absentee voting, as well as early in-person voting, which starts today, Tuesday, October 25th.
- Anyone can request an absentee ballot in Wisconsin. Click here to make the request electronically.
- Click here to find out additional information on how to cast an absentee ballot in-person between now and the Sunday before election day.
- Your election day polling place can be found here.
- If you still need to register to vote, it’s not too late, you can register to vote in-person on election day. Click here to find out what is required to register.
- Enter your home address here to find out which candidates will be on your ballot.
WISCA Legislative Affairs Report:
2022 Election Preview
By Andrew Engel – WISCA Lobbyist (Hamilton Consulting)
Historically, mid-term elections in the first term of a Presidency are rather textbook in nature. Whichever party has recently won the Presidency tends to face an unfavorable electoral environment. On average the party in power loses 36 seats in the House and faces challenges in races from the top to the bottom of tickets in all kinds of states.
In 2018, two years after President Trump was elected, Wisconsin democrats swept every race at the top of the ticket including US Senate, Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, etc. Democrats picked up 40 seats in Congress and flipped seven Governors from red to blue.
Will 2022 yield the same results? Early indications were an emphatic “yes”. The question wasn’t whether or not there was going to be a “red wave”, it was what was going to be the size of it. With the economy teetering on recession status, gas prices higher than they’ve been in years, inflation that refuses to cool, mortgage rates nearly doubling, and the stock market hovering in bear territory for the last quarter, economic angst has more than set in. Factor in a sitting President who has approval numbers hovering around 40 for the last year and the environment would appear to have republicans positioned for epic victories at every level.
Enter the Dobbs decision. The Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in June has certainly added an element of doubt into the election forecasts. Right after the June 24th decision the environment shifted. Whether this was a temporary shift or one that will have an impact on November races remains to be seen. The generic ballot shifted from consistently showing preference for republican candidates to voters narrowly choosing a democratic candidate. While there weren’t many non-primary elections that took place after June 24 there were a couple notable races wherein the Dobbs decision played a role. In Kansas an amendment to prohibit abortion was on the ballot. It failed by a sizeable 59-41% significantly outperforming where the polls expected the margin to be. In addition to Kansas there were a couple special elections that took place where the democrat performed substantially better than where the polls had their races pre-Dobbs.
So where does that leave us with less than two weeks before Election Day? Republicans appear to be positioned to easily win the house, and the cascade of recent polls show them having regained the lead in generic ballot tests. Dobbs was four months ago, but economic concerns are omnipresent in every district. All things considered, the environment should still favor Republicans both nationally and in Wisconsin. As the early voting numbers continue to come in, we’ll start to glean a little bit more as to what will happen on Election Day.
Senator Ron Johnson vs. Lieutenant Governor Barnes
To fully understand this race you first have to put it in the context of how it fits into the national landscape. Democrats hold the majority in the Senate by virtue of holding the Presidency and having Vice President Harris accounting for the 51st vote in an otherwise 50-50 split. The Republicans will control the Senate if they net one seat this cycle. The democrats need to break even to hold control but in a perfect world would pick up two seats to avoid having to go through Senators Manchin and Sinema on every vote. Additionally, dems will be on the defensive in 2024 and need to protect as many seats now given likely losses in two years.
Early on many predicted this to be possibly the top US Senate race in the country for both sides but as time has passed that calculus has changed. Toss-ups in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, and potentially close races in a number of other states broadens the playing field and lessens the on Wisconsin. From available polling there are still up to 9 seats in play heading down the stretch, and in an environment where the democrats need to protect the seats they have, the Wisconsin seat is receiving slightly less attention from national democratic players.
Does this mean those national players have given up on Barnes? Not necessarily, but it does strengthen Johnson’s position. Coming into this race Senator Johnson’s favorability was among the worst in the country and he was considered the most vulnerable republican incumbent, but shortly after a Marquette Law School post-primary poll showed Barnes with a 7-point lead Johnson and allies went on the attack. Significantly outspending Barnes and allies defining him with a relentless barrage of negative ads and taking over control of the race. Since that early Marquette poll Johnson has led in every poll since. By aggregating polls, Real Clear Politics has Johnson with a 2.7 point lead and 538, another polling aggregator shows Johnson with a 2.6 point lead and states that Johnson is “favored to win” (76 times out of 100 according to their forecast).
While Barnes and allies will match and perhaps even outspend Johnson in the final weeks, the dye may have been cast early on when Johnson was able to define Barnes with little counter message from allies. At the same time Johnson has also improved his favorability numbers and is rock solid with republican voters. Even if Barnes and allies had perfectly run his campaign the environment as it relates to the economy is likely too much to overcome. Still, with two weeks to go, Barnes is close enough in recent polling to pull it off if the Wisconsin turnout hits the sweet spot of increased vote total in Milwaukee, increased vote totals from new women voters voting on Roe and increased turnout on campus. All realistic goals when you factor in an Obama visit to Milwaukee, evidence of more young women registering to vote in Wisconsin post-Dobbs and rumors of increased turnout efforts on campuses. That said, going into Election Day you would much rather be Johnson than Barnes.
Governor Evers vs. Tim Michels
This race has turned out to be a true toss-up to this point. Neither candidate has been able to establish much of a lead in any of the polling and while the environment certainly favors the challenger, most of the October polling we’ve seen or heard about shows Evers tied or with a narrow lead.
Michels entered the race for Governor months after his established primary opponent, Rebecca Kleefisch had been raising money, building her team and barnstorming the state. Michels was able to use personal wealth combined with a Trump endorsement to quickly close any advantage Kleefisch had, beating her handily on Primary Election Day. Michels runs as an outsider, successful businessman with a blue-collar vibe who wants to put Wisconsin on the right track (as an aside, polling shows the vast majority of Wisconsin voters believe the state is on the “wrong track”). Despite his primary win and previous run for the US Senate, Michels still was largely unknown to voters. Similar to Johnson’s strategy, Evers and allies were aggressive out of the gate running negative ads on Michels. The ads focused predominantly on abortion and Michel’s position on it. Michels advertising in the first few weeks after the primary lagged Evers and this allowed Evers to blunt his post-primary momentum.
The race remains one of the tightest in the country. 538 shows Evers with a .6 lead in their polling and forecast Evers winning 55 out of 100 times. Real Clear Politics has Evers with a 1-point lead using what appears to be an average from the three October polls we’ve seen so far.
Three things I like if I’m Team Evers:
1. Turnout models that show polling under increased turnout scenarios seem to benefit me. If in fact there is an increase of young women voting due to Dobbs (and there is some evidence of this), I should be in a stronger position than where current polls show me.
2. Even with Michels being able to spend millions of his own dollars, I’ve raised record amounts for a Wisconsin democratic gubernatorial candidate and have spent it effectively. The negative attacks on Michels have blunted his momentum and increased his unfavorables.
- 3. At the height of high gas prices and inflation, I still held a lead or stayed even in the polls. With gas prices dropping a bit, it may lessen the focus slightly on the economy.
Three things I like if I’m Team Michels:
1. The current environment is poison for democrats. The two biggest concerns for Wisconsin voters this year are the economy and crime and I have a better story to tell on both. Evers only won by 30,000 votes in a very favorable environment, hard to imagine he can hold on here.
2. Our negative ads are working. Since September Evers’ favorability and job performance numbers are upside down. Factor in Biden’s approval and overall it’s a bad year to be a democrat. Messages on crime that dovetail with Johnson’s attacks on Barnes help us win back some of the suburban women we might have lost because of Dobbs or Trump.
3. Polling shows both in Wisconsin and nationally that republicans are more enthusiastic about voting. If there is higher turnout it could very well be in places that benefit republicans.