Redistricting a 5-3 Democratic Wisconsin

This is my first foray into the redistricting game, so I decided to use my adoptive home state of Wisconsin. I tried to create the most Democratic map possible while maintaining reasonably compact districts and for the most part respecting communities of interest. The result was a map that should go 5-3 democratic in all but the very worst of years.

Madison / Milwaukee Close-Up:

Detailed analysis of the districts below the fold

1st (Blue, Ryan): Okay, so I know the smartass way to nuke Paul Ryan is to draw Janesville into Tammy’s district and give the new first district a huge chuck of Milwaukee proper so he can’t move, but I felt that that didn’t really respect communities of interest, so this is the next best option. What I did was get rid of Waukesha and the annoying parts of Racine, and gave him Whitewater, the rest of Rock County, Green, some of the less annoying (although still probably mildly Republican) parts of Jefferson, and southern Dane county. With a strong Dem candidate, this district should boot Paul Ryan, and continue electing that Democrat for the foreseeable future.

2nd (Green, Baldwin): To some extent, Tammy’s district got cannibalized to make some of the other districts more democratic. I had her eat half of Jefferson County, all of Dodge, Half of Fond du Lac County, and even gave her corners of Waukesha and Washington. I took some steps to avoid weakening her district too much, though. She still has all of Madison proper, over half of her votes are still in Dane, and I gave her Oshkosh in addition to some of the more heavily Republican stuff.

3rd (Purple, Kind): Ron Kind’s district is perhaps a smidgin more Republican, but if so, not by much, and he probably still would have beaten Kapanke last year in it. It drops Eau Claire and Dunn Counties, but picks up Columbia and a corner of Dane from Tammy and Adams and most of Marquette from Petri. All of that is light blue turf except for Marquette County, which doesn’t have a terribly huge population.

4th (Red, Duffy): Duffy will have an extremely hard time hanging on in this district. I left him with the already Democratic parts of his district (Sevens Point and the Superior stuff) while throwing in the heavily democratic Eau Claire and Dunn and hollowing out a lot of the reddish rural stuff that he had. Any competent democrat should be able to win this district.

5th (Yellow, Moore): Not much to see here. Milwaukee is a huge Democratic vote sink, but there’s not much I can do about that if I want to respect compactness and communities of interest.

6th (Teal, Sennsenbrenner): Basically, Sennsenbrenner’s district moves south a bit to eat up the parts of Ryan’s district I wanted to get rid of. Still solidly Republican.

7th (Grey, Petri): This was the most frustrating district for me. I struggled a lot with the decision to give Petri Appleton, but if I hadn’t, I would have had to give him a lot of Rural turf up north, which would have been a bit snake-like for the sort of map I was trying to draw. I also probably could have made this district a bit cleaner (and forced Petri to move) by giving Tammy Fond du Lac city and some more of Washington or Waukesha instead of Oshkosh, but I thought that might be pushing it. Despite the addition of Appleton, probably still pretty safely republican.

8th (Slate Blue, Ribble): Alas, while Ribble would be forced to move, getting rid of Appleton makes this district far more safe for Ribble, although a Democrat could probably still win in a really good year. Not much else to say here, besides that Ribble also ate a lot of Duffy’s reddish rural turf.

Analyzing the 2011 Wisconsin Supreme Court Election

On April 5th, 2011 Wisconsin held an election to choose a Wisconsin Supreme Court nominee. The supposedly non-partisan election turned into a referendum on Republican Governor Scott Walker’s controversial policies against unions. Mr. Walker’s new law will probably be headed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and since the Supreme Court is elected by the voters Democrats saw one last chance to defeat his law.

The frontrunner was the incumbent justice, Republican David Prosser. The Democratic favorite was relatively unknown JoAnne Kloppenburg. The two candidates essentially tied each other, although Mr. Prosser has taken the lead following the discovery of 14,315 votes in a strongly Republican city.

Here are the results of the election:


More below.

For a supposedly non-partisan election, the counties that Mr. Prosser won were almost identical to the counties that Republicans win in close races. There was essentially no difference.

A good illustration of this similarity is provided by comparing the results to those of the 2004 presidential election in Wisconsin. In that election Senator John Kerry beat President George W. Bush by less than 12,000 votes:


It is pretty clear that this non-partisan election became a very partisan battle between Democrats and Republicans.

Nevertheless, there were several differences between this election and the 2004 presidential election.

Here is a map of how Mr. Prosser did compared to Mr. Bush:


In most places Mr. Prosser is on the defence. He improves in his areas of strength by less than Ms. Kloppenburg does in her areas of strength. More Bush counties move leftward; fewer Kerry counties move rightward.

The great exception, however, is Milwaukee. In that Democratic stronghold Mr. Prosser improved by double-digits over Mr. Bush. Ms. Kloppenburg almost makes up the difference through a massive improvement in Madison (Dane County), the other Democratic stronghold, along with a respectable performance outside Milwaukee and its suburbs. But she doesn’t quite make it.

Here is a good illustration of the importance of Milwaukee:


As one can see, the two great reservoirs of Democratic votes belong in Madison and Milwaukee. Ms. Kloppenberg got all the votes she needed and more in Madison; she got far fewer than hoped for in Milwaukee.

Much of Mr. Prosser’s improvement was due to poor minority turn-out.

Milwaukee is the type of Democratic stronghold based off support from poor minorities (Madison is based off wealthy white liberals and college students). Unfortunately for Ms. Kloppenberg, minority turn-out is generally low in off-year elections such as these.

Another example of this pattern is in Menominee County, a Native American reservation that usually goes strongly Democratic. In 2011 Menominee County voted Democratic as usual (along with Milwaukee), but low turn-out enabled Mr. Prosser to strongly improve on Mr. Bush’s 2004 performance.

All in all, this election provides an interesting example of a Democratic vote depending heavily upon white liberals and the white working class (descendants of non-German European immigrants), and far less upon minorities.


Wisconsin Through the Years

With Wisconsin in the news so much lately, I wanted to see how voting patterns have shifted.  Here we are.  Special thanks to californianintexas’s blog for PVI info!


This was Wisconsin in 1968.  The labor-heavy northwest (Sean Duffy’s district) was heavily blue, particularly compared to today.  Milwaukee and Madison, “Fake Wisconsin” were blue as well, although the inner suburbs seem to be even more conservative back then.  Kenosha was quite blue as well (was labor strong there too?)  Sheboygan and Manitowoc along Lake Michigan were once union strongholds as well.  The farming country of Southern Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Suburbs, and the Northeast (Green Bay, Fond du Lac, Appleton) were conservative, as were some sparsely populated northern counties


This was Wisconsin in 1984.  The Northwest shifted even more strongly to the Democrats, even as labor began to decline.  Some of this shift can probably be attributed to Walter Mondale being from neighboring Minnesota and much of this area being in a Minnesota media market. Some of the rural North became more Democratic too, while in farming country, we can see the beginning of a leftward shift that still exists today (Ron Kind’s district, basically).  Racine and Milwaukee both got bluer as well.  


This was Wisconsin in 2000, another sixteen-year shift.  Milwaukee’s suburbs shifted back to the right. The central northwest counties lost union workers and went GOP.  However, the Minnesota border and Wisconsin Iron Range counties stayed with Democrats.  A huge shift occurred along the river, in the Southwest.  This still exists today.  The counties near Madison all became more Democratic.  In a reverse of Ohio’s Democratic strength, Wisconsin’s is West and South, not East and South.  

Please give feedback.

What if Madison and Milwaukee seceded from Wisconsin?

Yesterday, Scott Walker blamed David Prosser’s apparent loss on Madison and, to a lesser extent, Milwaukee. He said that he was confident that the recall elections would be okay for his party because, in his words, “Those Senate recall elections both on the Democrat and Republican side are not being held in Madison and not being held in Milwaukee. They’re being held in other parts of the state”. This is pretty disingenuous; the elections aren’t being held in Waukesha, either, and Kloppenburg carried 30 counties in addition to Dane county (Madison) and Milwaukee county. But let’s indulge Walker’s fantasy for a moment. Imagine that Wisconsin were to split into two separate states. Dane and Milwaukee counties form the new Democratic People’s Republic of Fake Wisconsin, or just Fake Wisconsin for short (don’t forget to buy the official state underwear). The rest of the state then forms the state of Real Wisconsin (like Real Virginia, only with more cheese). There might be legal issues arising from having a state that is composed of two non-contiguous parts, but technically I don’t think that the constitution requires states to be composed of contiguous territory. Leaving aside the legal issues, though, it turns out this proposal might not be as good for the GOP as Scott Walker thinks it would be.

In the 2008 election, Obama still would have gotten 52.5% of the vote in Real Wisconsin. He would also have carried the state of Fake Wisconsin with 70.3%. The Fake Wisconsin secession would have added two electoral votes to Obama’s total, as Fake Wisconsin would have two electoral votes in addition to the two it would steal from Real Wisconsin. In 2004, taking out Milwaukee and Dane only leaves Kerry with 45.6% of the vote in Real Wisconsin. But Kerry would have carried Fake Wisconsin with 63.9% of the vote. Kerry would have lost Real Wisconsin’s six eight electoral votes but kept Fake Wisconsin’s four, leaving him down a total of two. Under this scenario, if Kerry had won Ohio he still would have become President. These two elections give Real Wisconsin a Cook PVI of approximately R+2, or in other words the same as Virginia or Florida. Even without Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin is still basically a swing state. Fake Wisconsin, on the other hand, would have a PVI of D+17, or four points more Democratic than Vermont, currently the most Democratic state in the union.

Not only would the secession of Dane and Milwaukee not benefit the GOP in presidential elections, it would decidedly hurt them  in the senate. Fake Wisconsin would now have two senators in addition to the two senators from Real Wisconsin. It’s basically guaranteed that Fake Wisconsin’s senators would be Democrats (probably Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl, as both of them live within the boundaries of the new state), while Real Wisconsin could easily elect one or two Democratic senators as well. Ron Johnson lives in Real Wisconsin, so he would remain a senator, at least until 2016. But the other senate seat of Real Wisconsin would be open, and one of the strongest potential Democratic senate candidates, Rep Ron Kind, would have a good chance of winning it in 2012. The best the GOP could hope to do is break even among senators from the former Badger State, and likely the Democrats would come out with one or two more senators.

Of course, the biggest reason that splitting Milwaukee and Dane from Wisconsin wouldn’t be good for Walker is that Walker would be a resident of Fake Wisconsin. Even back in the days when he could win an election for county executive in Milwaukee, Walker still probably couldn’t win the governorship of Fake Wisconsin, as governor’s elections are more partisan than county executive elections, not to mention the fact that he would have to deal with Dane county as well. I suppose Walker could move to the suburban counties and run for the governorship of Real Wisconsin. Maybe he could make sure that his house remained an enclave of Real Wisconsin, or change the laws so that anyone named Scott Walker doesn’t have to be a resident of Real Wisconsin to be governor. This is his dream world, after all.

All things considered, it seems that the secession of Fake Wisconsin from Real Wisconsin would probably be a good thing for Democrats. This idea may be the one thing Scott Walker and I agree on.

By what margin will Bob Shamansky win?

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Kloppenburg declares victory in Wisconsin Supreme Court race

With the AP showing her leading David Prosser by 204 votes (740,090 to 739,886), JoAnne Kloppenburg is declaring victory. She put out the following statement:

“We owe Justice Prosser our gratitude for his more than 30 years of public service. Wisconsin voters have spoken and I am grateful for, and humbled by, their confidence and trust. I will be independent and impartial and I will decide cases based on the facts and the law. As I have traveled the State, people tell me they believe partisan politics do not belong in our Courts.  I look forward to bringing new blood to the Supreme Court and focusing my energy on the important work Wisconsin residents elect Supreme Court justices to do.”

More to come as we get it.

Early thoughts from the Wisconsin election

I know, the election technically isn’t over, and there’s certainly a recount coming. But we know the general outlines of what happened (i.e. really close). I think Koppenburg’s lead is too high to overcome in a recount, but this analysis doesn’t really depend on her winning.

Overall, so I don’t bury the lead, I feel pretty good about what happened, despite the fact that I thought Kloppenburg would win it in a walk because of the heightened interest of Democrats in the race and the Milwaukee and Madison county executive races. But there was a little disappointment for me as well. Anyway, here are my thoughts.

So first, I have to address something that was said by several of the best commentators (including David NYC and DCCyclone) that I think, at best, is a half truth – the idea that its really hard to beat an incumbent judge, and therefore it would be amazing if we even came close in this race. That’s true with the vast majority of judicial races, but only because there’s generally no controversy with those races. Two years ago, Wisconsin ousted a sitting judge, and just last year we saw three Iowa judges on the Supreme Court ousted. This was a race where millions of dollars were spent on behalf of both candidate, and there was such heightned awareness that turnout was almost double what the state predicted. When a judicial election involves some sort of widely publicized controversy, there is much more of a chance at ousting a sitting judge. Had Kloppenburg lost, I would not have bought this line as any excuse for losing.

To get it out of the way, here’s the one piece of bad news. When I made my prediction of a big Kloppenburg win, I was hoping the conditions of 2010 would exist, only in reverse. That is, the Republicans wouldn’t turn out, since it was the Dems energized by the issues, and Repubs, either having gotten what they wanted or unhappy with the final results, would not show up. Sort of a reverse of what we saw with HCR last year. I’m here to tell you I was obviously wrong. Republicans were still pretty energized. They turned out in far higher numbers than I would have predicted, and they were able to outspend the Dems.

But, despite this, I find myself a happy man today: Dems are back. The party faithful are finally energized enough to win a major contested election (albeit a close one) and they did it without the help of a tea party candidate or any other third party. To me, this bodes well for 2012, because I think economic conditions are going to continue getting better, and combine that with the weak Republican presidential field I think we are in good shape. Dems have come a long way in the six months following the 2010 debacle.

Also, Koppenburg (likely) won – which is huge, given the role the Supreme Court will play in helping to turn back Walker’s odious agenda. A win is a win, no matter how close.

What this means for the recall, I can’t say. Someone soon will do the analysis and show which Senators are in districts Prosser won and which were in districts Koppenburg won. I firmly believe the Republicans have already spotted us two seats in the upcoming recall election, so we just need to win one more. Two things these results say to me: Dems should pick targets wisely – no resources should be wasted on the two Republican Senators least likely to be ousted, and we might want to further triage, and we also need to pay attention to any Dems that are being recalled – if they are in Prosser districts, their victories are not assured.

But overall, a pretty good night for Team Blue.  

April 5 Election Results Thread #8

2:39pm: The current margin is Kloppenburg by 204, after factoring in Lake Mills. (That’s down from briefly being at a 336-vote edge according to the AP.)

1:54pm: Eric Compas has a cool map of results by county.

1:52pm: Amazing fact from the National Journal:

If Kloppenburg’s narrow margin holds up through the potential recount, it will be just the fifth time a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice has been unseated since the court’s establishment in 1852.

Man you kids like to chat.


Wisconsin: AP | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

April 5 Election Results Thread #7

1:29pm: James Hell here. DavidNYC sends an update from another dimension: State Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, who represents the Lake Mills area, said Prosser picked up only 2 votes in Lake Mills, pending the count of 24 handwritten ballots.

12:37pm: Great news – those “missing” two precincts in West Allis (suburban Milwaukee County) were either empty or already counted. So MKE is done and Kloppenburg’s vote lead remains unchanged at 224. Now we just wait for Lake Mills (JeffCo) to count. And then, of course, on to the absentees.

11:41am: The final precincts in Juneau and Taylor came in, reducing Kloppenburg’s lead to 240 votes. So now we wait on West Allis and Lake Mills.

11:25am: The town of Lake Mills in Jefferson Co. is apparently having issues with its vote count.

11:14am: AP just made some adjustments to previous counties, so now KloJo’s lead is at 311.

11:04am: We’re using this link for Jefferson & this link (PDF) for Taylor.

10:59am: The AP has finally caught up with us and is also showing the same lead. There are five precincts left: 1 each in Jefferson, Juneau, and Taylor, and 2 in Milwaukee. We believe the Jeff and Taylor precincts are less Prosser-leaning than their counties, while the Milwaukee precincts (suburban West Allis) are much more favorable to Prosser than MKE as a whole. As for Juneau, that’s in the good lord’s hands.

10:40am (David): We show JoAnne Kloppenburg with a 369 vote lead right now, with Sauk and Ashland complete.

8:57am: The JS is reporting that the last two Milwaukee County precincts are in West Allis, which gave Prosser 63% in the first round.  If indeed the case, those Sauk/Ashland precincts will have some heavy lifting to do.

8:45am (Jeff): Those Milwaukee County precincts were not particularly helpful for KloJo, who is now 606 votes back per our count. This leaves 19 precincts outstanding, if you take the fact that Crawford and Dane are in fact fully reporting.

And we’re back!


Wisconsin: AP | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

April 5 Election Results Thread #6

3:18am (David): Back to Eastern time here. (Nice try, Jeff.) I think we’ve done absolutely all we can do. I don’t think we’re going to see any more votes come in tonight, so it’s time for a ganja break for the SSP crew. Tune in tomorrow!

2:02am: All of Dane County is reporting, having shown a 4.61% swing away from Prosser and turnout at 2.77x the first round. (This includes Middleton…which quite nicely gave KloJo more than a 1,000 vote margin).

1:48am: (jeffmd here. CENTRAL TIME WILL DESTROY YOU!) Here’s where we’re at: there are, per the AP, 34 precincts outstanding.  However, Dunn County has all precincts reporting on it website, and it helps KloJo close to a 356 vote deficit.  Crawford and Dane counties are completed reported.

So precinct wise, here’s what’s left:

6 in Ashland

1 in Jefferson

1 in Juneau

12 in Milwaukee

8 in Sauk

1 in Taylor

Jefferson and Taylor are telling us that their last precincts won’t be reporting until tomorrow.

Lake Mills town in Jefferson County gave Prosser 56.1% in the first round, and we’ve seen a 9.32% swing away from him tonight.

Maplehurst in Taylor County gave Prosser 42.9% of the vote in the first round, and we’ve seen a 5.4% swing towards him tonight.  Overall, I’m guessing that Jefferson and Taylor will overall be about a wash.  All the other counties listed favored KloJo tonight.

2:40am: My chart’s got more significant digits than Picasso got paint!

2:24am: New chart – KloJo won these counties by 62-38 so far tonight:

County Region Percent In Total Kloppenburg Prosser K% P%
Ashland Rest 0.785714286 22 28 2504 1037 70.71% 29.29%
Sauk Dairyland 0.794871795 31 39 7625 6166 55.29% 44.71%
Crawford Dairyland 0.925925926 25 27 2428 1689 58.97% 41.03%
Dunn Rest 0.95 38 40 4649 3790 55.09% 44.91%
Juneau Rest 0.965517241 28 29 2546 2337 52.14% 47.86%
Taylor Rest 0.966666667 29 30 2266 3602 38.62% 61.38%
Milwaukee Milwaukee 0.975308642 474 486 125090 95129 56.80% 43.20%
Jefferson Rest 0.975609756 40 41 9365 12860 42.14% 57.86%
Dane Madison 0.995967742 247 248 133513 48627 73.30% 26.70%

2:21am (DavidNYC): Prosser’s lead down to 585 votes. 34 precincts left.

Fresh new thread. (How did I get here?)


Wisconsin: AP | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Chicago: AP


Nevada: Clark County

April 5 Election Results Thread #5

2:02am: 3,575 of 3,630 precincts, Klop behind 726,325 to 728,203. And sorry for any confusion about the timestamps – Jeff insisted on using something called “Central” time, but I’m here to restore Eastern time to its rightful glory.

1:45am: 7 more precincts just came in, and Kloppenburg is now behind 1,898 votes.

1:40am: It’s so close that I’m not sure this is meaningful, but our model now predicts a KloJo win by 50.04% to 49.96%.

1:31am: Per that table just below, I count about 97 outstanding precincts, in counties that Kloppenburg has won by an average of 60% so far tonight.

1:24am: DavidNYC here – taking over the con from Jeff, who has done heroic work tonight. Not counting absentees, etc., this is where I’m seeing outstanding precincts:

County Region Percent In Total Kloppenburg Prosser K% P%
Eau Claire College 65.57% 40 61 9,524 6,343 60.02% 39.98%
Marathon Rest 77.14% 108 140 14,032 16,368 46.16% 53.84%
Ashland Rest 78.57% 22 28 2,504 1,037 70.71% 29.29%
Sauk Dairyland 79.49% 31 39 7,625 6,166 55.29% 44.71%
Dunn Rest 85.00% 34 40 3,896 3,358 53.71% 46.29%
Crawford Dairyland 92.59% 25 27 2,428 1,689 58.97% 41.03%
Calumet Fox Valley 94.87% 37 39 3,670 5,953 38.14% 61.86%
Adams Rest 95.00% 19 20 2,316 2,188 51.42% 48.58%
Buffalo Rest 95.65% 22 23 1,275 1,452 46.75% 53.25%
Juneau Rest 96.55% 28 29 2,546 2,337 52.14% 47.86%
Oconto Rest 96.55% 28 29 3,852 5,199 42.56% 57.44%
Taylor Rest 96.67% 29 30 2,266 3,602 38.62% 61.38%
Milwaukee Milwaukee 97.53% 474 486 125,090 95,129 56.80% 43.20%
Jefferson Rest 97.56% 40 41 9,365 12,860 42.14% 57.86%
Manitowoc Rest 97.62% 41 42 7,690 12,044 38.97% 61.03%
Dane Madison 99.60% 247 248 133,513 48,627 73.30% 26.70%

My nails now are quite bloody.


Wisconsin: AP | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Chicago: AP


Nevada: Clark County