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.  

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SSP Daily Digest: 11/24

AZ-Sen: So, that anti-earmark stance from Republican leadership seemed to last a whole week or so, until everybody’s attention had moved onto something else (something about sharks attacking people in airport security lines, maybe). Jon Kyl just got a $200 million earmark to settle an Indian water rights case with the government. Kyl’s defense… and one we should expect to hear a lot from both sides of the aisle… is that it’s technically not an earmark (which seems to have a profanity-style you-know-it-when-you-see-it standard).

CT-Sen: Joe Lieberman is hinting at an independent run as the preferred way forward out of his three-possible-ways-to-lose conundrum. In a recent interview, he said “I’ve enjoyed being an Independent so I guess that’s the most natural way to run, but I haven’t decided,” as well as “I don’t meet all the requirements of either party.” Other insiders, or at least the ones Politico is talking to, say that Lieberman’s choices at this point are essentially retiring or becoming a Republican. (One reason they cite is the recent collapse of the CfL “Party,” which failed to get the 1% needed to maintain its ballot place… although that overlooks the fact that the CfL was, several years ago, hijacked by waggish Lieberman opponents).

FL-Sen: The first announced Republican candidate for the Senate in 2012 is both a Some Dude and a familiar face: college instructor Mike McCalister. If the name rings a bell, he got 10% in this year’s gubernatorial primary by virtue of not being either Rick Scott or Bill McCollum. As for temp Sen. George LeMieux, a reported possible candidate, his current status is still “no decisions yet,” albeit “I do feel a calling to serve.”

KY-Sen: Here’s some pointless post-mortem about Kentucky, but it’s the first I’ve heard any major player from Team Blue say that the “Aqua Buddha” ad was a net liability for Jack Conway. Outgoing DSCC Bob Menendez said his main regret was not asking for better briefings about candidates’ ads, and he cited the anti-Rand Paul ad as a particular “killer.”

PA-Sen: The first announced GOP candidate in Pennsylvania has also surfaced, and he’s also on the cusp between Some Dude and whatever’s one step higher than that. Marc Scaringi was a legislative aide to Rick Santorum back in the 1990s, and is currently a lawyer in Harrisburg. (The article also cites one other potential GOP challenger in addition to the usual Jim Gerlach/Charlie Dent suspects: incoming state House majority leader Mike Turzai, whom you might remember weighing and deciding against a PA-04 run in 2010.) As for Bob Casey Jr., he’s running again, although his main concern for the next year seems to be upping his low-key profile.

NY-23: After making some waves yesterday with saying he was at least considering voting for John Boehner in the floor leadership vote, Bill Owens is now just saying he was “blowing off steam” and will vote for her as long as she promises to focus on jobs. (In other words, he probably got a call from leadership explaining the consequences.)

CA-AG: Kind of a foregone conclusion at this point, given his 40,000 vote deficit, but Steve Cooley has just conceded the Attorney General’s race, with Democratic San Francisco DA and rising star Kamala Harris the victor.

KY-AG: Here’s a surprise: after a few weeks of hype concerning a 2011 battle royale between Jack Conway and Trey Grayson for Attorney General, Grayson suddenly reversed course. Rather than run again for SoS, where GOPers were already lining up, he apparently won’t run for anything, other than the sweet embrace of the private sector.

Chicago mayor: One more poll gives Rahm Emanuel a sizable edge in the Chicago mayoral race. He has 39% support in a Chicago Retail Merchants Association poll, followed by Carol Mosely Braun at 12, Gerry Chico at 9, Danny Davis at 7, and His Accidency, Roland Burris, at 2. The real question here seems to be whether Emanuel can win on Feb. 22 without a runoff (which would be Apr. 5).

AR-St. House: Here’s an interesting situation in Arkansas, where Dems still control the state House (albeit with reduced numbers) but an unusual special election is already on tap. Democratic State Rep. Rick Saunders was apparently going to be given a pass to serve another two years despite being term-limited out, because the guy who won the seat in November, GOPer Keith Crass, did so despite being dead. He beat Dem Larry Williams despite dying during the early voting period. Now Saunders says he’ll resign in early January so a special election can be held (in April at the earliest).

Washington: It looks like all the counting in Washington is finally done, with turnout a whopping 71% (thanks to the mail-in nature of the election, which goes a long way toward evaporating the ‘enthusiasm gap’). Patty Murray wound up winning by just shy of 5%, right where UW’s polling put it, compared with the out-of-state robo-pollsters who saw a much closer race. Dems still control both chambers of the state legislature by decent (but not supermajority anymore) margins, after losing 4 seats in the 49-seat Senate and 5 in the 98-seat House. Three races where the Dem trails (Randy Gordon in the Senate, and Dawn Morrell and Kelli Linville in the House) are apparently going to recount, though, by margins ranging from 47 to 194.

Money: The Dems, after getting outgunned on the dark money front in 2010 by a wide margin, aren’t going to be caught napping this time (and this time, unlike 2008, they seem to have Barack Obama’s tacit approval). David Brock (in his quest to become the left’s answer to Karl Rove) is busy revving up his own 527/501(c)(4) type-thing for corraling large donations from undisclosed donors. The good news: they’ve already lined up $4 million in commitments. The bad news: they’re being led by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (although maybe she’s better behind the scenes than she is as a campaigner).

History: Here’s a great look back from Greg Giroux at Senate cycles where one party was defending more than 10 seats than the other party (as the Dems will in 2012). While the last three times this happened (2006 2008, 1986, and 1980), the defending party got hammered, many of the prior examples showed little movement one way or the other, including 1976, where a number of incumbents of both parties lost (in the post-Watergate environment) but it all balanced out to zero.

Analyzing Polish Elections

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

The country Poland is comprised of two main political parties; the first is Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc  (PiS) – “Law and Justice” in English. This party is a populist group which runs upon anti-corruption and anti-Communist credentials. The second party is the Platforma Obywatelska (PO) – in English the “Civic Platform” – a group espousing support for free market capitalism.

On October 2007, Poland held parliamentary elections between the two parties. Most of the Western media backed the Civic Platform (PO), disliking the unpredictability of the Kaczynski twins (leaders of Law and Justice). Here is a map of the results:


More below.

As it turns out, the Civic Platform (PO) won the election, taking 41.5% of the vote. Law and Justice polled 32.1%, with the rest of the vote going to third parties.

A clear regional split is apparent in these results. Poland’s southeast – with the exception of Warsaw – generally voted for Law and Justice (PiS). On the other hand, support for the Civic Platform (PO) took a sickle-like shape along Poland’s northern and western borders.

These patterns are not random. Take a look at pre-WWI Imperial Germany superimposed upon this map:

Analyzing Polish Elections

As the map above indicates, there is a powerful correlation between the borders of Imperial Germany and support for the free-market, pro-Western Civic Platform (PO) Party. In contrast, areas that voted strongest for Law and Justice (PiS) used to belong to the Austrian-Hungarian and Russian empires.

An exact map of Poland’s pre-WWI boundaries looks as so:

Analyzing Polish Elections

These voting patterns have very little to do with any actual German presence in pro-Civic Platform regions. Few Germans live in the regions that used to belong to Imperial Germany; after WWII the process of ethnic cleansing effectively expelled them all from modern-day Poland.

The reason, rather, involves economics. The German Empire was far more economically developed than the Russian and Austria-Hungarian empires. This legacy is still present today, as Poland’s 2007 parliamentary elections showed quite starkly.

An interesting instance of Poland’s “German” divide occurred during the 1989 parliamentary elections. One may recognize this date: it was the year that communism fell in Poland. In these elections the Polish communists actually competed directly with the anti-communist Solidarity movement.

Here are the results:

Analyzing Polish Elections

Solidarity, of course, won in a landslide victory – which is why communism fell in Poland. Yet even in these elections one can make out the regional, east-west divide in Poland. Surprisingly, the more “Western” and economically developed regions actually gave stronger support to the Communists.

All in all, Poland’s electoral divide provides a powerful example of how long-past history can influence even the most modern events. Whatever the political parties of Poland’s future, and whatever their political positions, one can be fairly sure that Polish elections will continue to replicate the boundaries of pre-WWI Germany for a long, long time.

The Future of Texas Politics: The Past

This is the first in a series of posts examining the future of Texas Politics that I hope to write. I intend to examine ongoing demographic and political shifts in detail, and look to the future of statewide elections, Congressional and State Legislature elections, and redistricting.

Texas is the second largest state in the Union, after California.

Texas has been, for several years, a majority minority state.

Texas has 34 electoral votes, which will increase to 37 or 38 for the 2012 Presidential Election.

On the Presidential level, Texas has been one of the primary pieces (if not the primary piece) in the Republican Electoral College puzzle for years.

On the State level, Texas has not voted for a Democratic candidate for anything Statewide since 1994.

Yet if we can extrapolate from current trends, at some point in next decade Texas will become a bona fide purple swing state. Then it will become a blue state. Then it will become a linchpin of the Democratic electoral coalition, and as Texas flips, modern Conservative Republicanism as we know it will face mortal danger.

Contemporary Republican Dominance

A casual (Democratic) observer could be forgiven for thinking that Texas politics is nothing but bad news. After all, Texas seems to have produced plenty of bad news in recent years:

A) No Texas Democrat has won Statewide office since 1994.

B) Since 1976, Texas has consistently cast its ever increasing number of electoral votes for Republicans, constituting the key base of the GOP electoral college coalition.

C) There was the mid-decade redistricting in 2003, through which the GOP picked up 6 Congressional seats.

D) Even in a year when Democrats won a national landslide and Obama even won North Carolina and Indiana, he lost Texas by 12%, even with McCain having lost any home-state edge that Dubya might have claimed.

E) Rick Perry.

F) Of course, Texas is the adopted residence of that noted Northeastern Republican, George W. Bush.

I’ll stop the tedious litany there. Enough with the present, let’s look at the past.

A Brief History of Texas Politics

In order to understand Texas future, it is helpful to start with at least a basic familiarity with a story book version of Texas past. No, this is obviously not anywhere close to comprehensive, but very briefly:

  1. Starting after the end of Reconstruction, Texas was a solidly Democratic state, much like the rest of the American South. Actually, it was a one party State for up until the latter quarter of the 20th Century. The Texas Democratic Primary was THE election in Texas.
  2. Actually, that is false – there were in reality two “parties” – factions within the so-called “Democratic Party.” They were the Conservative Democratic Party (the socially dominant Bourbon Democrats), and the Progressive Democratic Party (including Populists, Liberals, and later on, racial minorities). In truth, these were the two political parties in Texas.
  3. After World War Two, new people began moving to Texas. They came from other States, like George H.W. Bush coming from Connecticut, and did not seem to realize that it was not proper to be a Republican in Texas, or that Texas had a two Party system under the umbrella of one Political Party. They moved to the booming suburbs of Dallas and Houston, as well as Midland, and started what was effectively a third party movement – the Republican Party.
  4. Gradually, the Texas Republican Party began winning the occasional election. Whenever the occasional Republican State Representative or Congressman sprouted from Texas soil, the Democratic Party did everything it could to rid the State of Texas of the blight of Republicanism. At first, when Republicans began popping up in the Dallas, Houston, and West Texas, Democrats were able to redistrict them out of power. But over time, it became unavoidable that Republicans would win some seats, both in the Texas House/State Senate and in Congress. Faced with this reality, Democrats packed Republican voters as densely as possible into strongly GOP districts, in order to limit the number of Republicans that could be elected.
  5. At the same time, voting rights were gradually granted to racial minorities, who began to support the Progressive Democrats.
  6. Seeing this, the Republican Party began to pursue the Southern Strategy, casting the Democrats as the party of Minorities. This was succesful in winning over the Conservative Democrats, mostly in more rural areas of Texas.
  7. This trend towards the Texas Republican Party reached its greatest height under the Governorship and then the disastrous Presidency of one George W. Bush. The Republican Party and the Conservative Democratic Party were as fully united as they have ever been, and they merged into one mass. In 2002 (aided by an ambitious State House gerrymander they were able to draw because of their dominance of statewide races), for the first time ever, the Republican Party won total control over the Texas government.
  8. The GOP set itself an ambitious goal – to destroy the last vestiges of the former 3 Party State, and “permanently” entrench the Republican Party in power, not just in Texas but in the Country as a whole. To accomplish this, they sought to defeat every last Anglo Democrat through mid-decade Congressional Redistricting. If the Anglo Incumbent’s district was voting GOP on the statewide level, they were thrown into a district designed to elect a Conservative Republican. If the Anglo Incumbent’s district was voting Dem on the statewide level, the GOP sought to change the district so that the Anglo Democratic incumbent would lose to a Hispanic or African American Democrat in the Democratic Primary. Jim Turner, Ralph Hall, Charlie Stenholm, Max Sandlin, Nick Lampson, Ralph Hall, and Chet Edwards were drawn into heavily GOP territory they had not previously represented.  Chris Bell, Lloyd Doggett, and Gene Green’s districts minority percentages were increased in an effort to ensure they would lose in Democratic Primaries to minority candidates. Martin Frost was a special case – his Democratic, majority-minority district was dismembered into a collection of districts that would all (and did) elect Anglo Republicans. Just as once no young (Anglo) Texan had grown up thinking it was acceptable to be a Republican, the GOP sought to ensure that no young (Anglo) Texan would grow up thinking that it was acceptable to vote for a Democrat. Texas was now a 2 Party State in line with the national norm, with an ascendant GOP pitted against a moderate to liberal Democratic Party. With the exception of an ever-dwindling number of old line rural stragglers, the Democratic Party was dominated by representatives from urban and minority areas – chiefly Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and the Rio Grande Valley. Texas was no longer a 3 Party State: the Conservative Democrats had merged with the Republicans into one united Republican Party. Texas was now a 2 Party State, with one Party (The Republican Party) holding hegemonic power.
  9. But nearly as soon as GOP predominance was put in place, the Bush Administration gradually collapsed into abject failure. Texas Democrats began making gradual gains in the State House, almost entirely in Urban/Suburban areas. In a bizarre 4-way Gubernatorial race in 2006, Incumbent Republican was re-elected with only 39% of the vote. In 2008, after a Presidential primary that energized Democratic voters, Texas voted solidly for John McCain, though much less solidly than it had voted for Bush.

This narrative of the past is necessarily incomplete and biased in what I included and what I left out – but that’s my story and I’m sticking too it.

Back To The Future

That ever-dwindling number of old line rural Conservative Democratic stragglers dwindles further still. The latest example came only last week, when rural East Texas State Representative Chuck Hopson switched from the Democratic Party to the Republicans. He now faces a difficult GOP primary fight. Ironically, many of those GOP Primary voters who may vote against him have much more historically in common with the one-time Bourbon Democrats than with the Post-WW2 Sunbelt Suburban Republicans of Dallas and Houston.

Kay Bailey Hutchison (a Dallas Republican) and Rick Perry (a Conservative Democrat until 1990) face off in a monumental GOP Gubernatorial primary. This primary cuts down a fault line in the contemporary Texas GOP. On the one hand stand the rural Rick Perry Conservative Democratic-Republicans, openly speaking of secession and other madness, as did their forebears in 1860. On the other hand stand the traditional Republicans of Sunbelt Suburbanism. As their own Northeastern forebears (like the Bush’s of Connecticut and Maine) were, the old line Republicans are more than a bit skeptical of neo-Jefferson-Davisism.

One could analogize the present day Texas Republican Party to an insane asylum. In that analogy, the inmates would be the rural Conservative Democrats, and the wardens would be the suburban Republicans who (once?) dominate(d?) the Party, heirs to the great Sun Belt Republican migration to the Dallas/Houston suburbs (The Tom Delays and Pete Sessionses of the world) and to Midland (The Tom Craddicks of the world). The outcome of that primary will be in some ways a test of just how much the “inmates” (rural Conservative Democrats) have taken over the asylum (the Republican Party) from the suburbanites who once pulled the levers. Admittedly, though this split is real, it is not absolute, and Kay Bailey Hutchison is much more the moderate Rockefeller Republican in image than in fact. But I am more than tempted to wonder whether we are coming full circle – a Conservative Democratic Party (renamed as the Republican Party) up against a Progressive Democratic Party (the Democratic Party).

Meanwhile, it is at least conceivable that a Democrat could win the governorship if, Scozzafavalike, GOP primary ruptures the fault between the two factions of the GOP – the old GOP, and the Conservative Democrats. It is also possible that Bill White could win a seat in the US Senate. But Democrats have had many shattered hopes in statewide races in Texas over the past number of years. And redistricting looms just over the horizon.