Bernie Sanders’s parting gift to Wisconsin voters

April 11, 2020 by Sam Wang

When it comes to partisan warfare, Wisconsin is at the top of any list. In 2011, Republicans, with the help of their Governor Scott Walker, committed one of the most egregious gerrymanders of all time. The General Assembly locked itself into power for a decade. Now, thanks to Bernie Sanders’s persistence, Democrats may take a small step toward building a defense against more depredations in 2021.

The story you may have seen in this week’s national news is somewhat different. It is a tale of (a) Bernie mulishly refusing to get out of the Presidential race, (b) state court and the U.S. Supreme Court stepping in to limit vote-counting and prevent Governor Evers from delaying the election, and (c) long lines for voting that could spread coronavirus and depress turnout.I think all of these ideas are wrong. Today in The Hill, I argue that turnout was unusually high – thanks to a combination of Bernie staying in the race and record levels of mail-in voting. I also think that the threat to life caused by in-person voting was likely to be minimal. Check it out.

Update, April 13, 8:00pm: And, Karofsky wins, 55-45, with 1.55 million votes cast overall. The big lesson, to me, is twofold. (1) Give people a shiny object to make them turn out. (2) Get mail-in voting ready for November. There’s likely to be a second coronavirus outbreak in the fall. We have to be ready to have an orderly election that is conducted mostly by mail.

Correction: In the 2019 state Supreme Court race, 1.2 million votes were cast and counted. Still not as high as last week’s turnout – and without the motivating factor of a Democratic primary.


UserFriendly says:

He also was texting his supporters to vote for the liberal, Biden made no effort down ballot.

Shari Hunter says:

Thank you for the keen analysis and intriguing data arrangements. I just saw your Wisconsin piece and it inspired me to read back into your work on the Client/Sanders primary. Few writing on the topic then or now seemed to dig deeply into the numbers. Most reporting picks a side then puts us as readers into a headlock one direction or another. I just wanted to know a bit more about what the numbers meant. What may be in the numbers that I simply can’t see. Thank you for providing that insight. It helps me to realize what a long shot it really would have been for Bernie. It helps me realize how well he really did. It also tells a story about something rare… that good can be done, an act of goodness driven by someone who… didn’t win. We only ever seem to care about winning. Thank you for writing about down ballot matters. Truly helpful. Good to know.

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