Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wisconsin Voters Bipolarized

I will leave the post game political analysis for others, but I can't help but pass on one observation. Republicans statewide took it on the chin while the conservative causes (marriage protection, death penalty) prevailed. Could it be that Wisconsinites like conservative ideas but not conservative politicians? Or perhaps Republican politicians are not behaving like conservatives? Would any of my fellow bloggers wish to take a stab at explaining this phenomenon?


eric said...

Well, the last two days were beautiful outside, but now that winter is arriving, time to return inside and reflect on the elections. I feel a ramble coming on.

First, I'm actually more adepth at discussing federal elections than state elections. However, it does appear state results were similar to national results in at least one significant way: both resulted in some majority party changes in the legislative branches(repubs to dems). I do think conduct of the war was huge and that this mid-presidential term election was "nationalized". In that climate, and a close election again, it doesn't take too many voters who decide to shift their vote to party-line democrat, and you end up with a shift in the majority. But to answer your second question first (in a federal context), exploding the federal deficit by cutting taxes, fighting a war, and increasing domestic spending simultaneously; 2 out of 3 don't sound very Republican (most overseas adventures in the 20th century were initiated by democrats, and when did the Republicans become the party of spend, spend, spend?). For me a true sign of Republican hubris was the federal government interceding with legislation during one family's tragedy, the 'Terry Shivo situation'. Anyone of any Libertarian bent had to ask themselves how and when did the Republicans loose their way? On your first question, again I can't defintively deal with the Wisconsin answer, but nationally gay marriage was banned in 7 of 8 states where in was on the ballot. In the northeast where many moderate Republican congressmen and senators lost their seats, many of the democrats replacing them are moderates, some with conservative leanings. So if I apply both your questions to the national context, my answers are "yes" and "yes".

The Wisconsin electorate is similar to the national electorate in that rural areas tend to be conservative and urban areas to be liberal. When you look at the red/blue map and they chart it in more detail down to the county, it's telling that the cities vote democratic, and the countryside goes republican. The suburbs tend to be the swing vote areas. Perhaps that's one way Wisconsin voters are different from the northeast. We seem to have more independents and others willing to cross party lines. The tradition of party allegiance seems more ingrained out east where they seem to have replaced some republican reps with their democratic twins. I think that's less likely to happen here, but it's just a sense I get.

Some anecdotal thoughts/observations on local/state elections: The new Republican AG won because he came off as more qualified. By the end of the campaign I didn't want to vote for either McReynolds or Lehman; Lehman seemed like a nice guy who would raise my taxes and McReynolds had arrogant and mean edges - did Kathy Stepp ever campaign for McReynolds? To be honest, on the ballot I filled out, once again the incumbents won most races, regardless of party. It was only in open seats that I noticed party changes. So I understand how personality may have played a role in our local state senate election, but what happned in all those other Wisconsin areas that lead to a majority change? Ryan and VanHollen won, so did Doyle and Kohl, again, but why the shift towards the democrtic party for state reps? Were these all local elections, or was there a broader factor at work?

The $10 million dollar question, now that the democrats have attained majority status, just what do they stand for? (Shouldn't this have been answered before the election?)

Anonymous said...

Denis -
I, too, was surprised by the margin (450,000) of votes that the Marriage Amendment drew that did not seem to have any "tailcoats" for Republicans. All I can figure out on this one is that the Archbishop prevailed in getting Catholic voters to say no, and that they went on to vote Democratic for a majority of the ticket. Go Figure!