While Governor Scott Walker has yet to concede, Democrat Tony Evers appears to be the biggest winner in Wisconsin’s Tuesday elections with an apparent win over Walker. A close second would be Democrat Josh Kaul who closed a gap in the polls to earn an apparent victory over incumbent Republican Attorney general Brad Schimel. But there are other noteworthy winners that were getting less attention the morning after Election Day:
Marquette University Law School Poll
For several years the MU Poll was considered the gold standard of Wisconsin political polling. Its reputation took a hit, along with many other polls, in the 2016 elections. Those on the Left and Right dismissed the MU Law School polling this cycle. At least two conservative talk show hosts in the state criticized the poll when it showed Walker trailing Evers and Republican state Senator Leah Vukmir trailing Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin. One of the hosts called it a “fake poll.”
Meanwhile, Scot Ross of the liberal One Wisconsin Now questioned the tight race the poll showed in the governor’s race. Ross repeatedly asked on Twitter who funded the poll, implying it was right wing support. In fact, the MU Law School poll was near perfect this time.
The final MU poll showed Walker and Evers tied. The race is close enough that Walker has yet to concede. The MU poll did show Schimel with a two point lead but that is in essence a statistical tie, much like the final result. Further, the September and October polls in the AG race showed Kaul gaining ground on Schimel. The final poll gave Baldwin a 10 point lead over Vukmir with registered voters; a bulls-eye.
State Representative Andre Jacque took a circuitous route to earning a 10 point win over Democrat Caleb Frostman for the 1st District state Senate seat. A quintet of Northeastern Wisconsin Republican lawmakers endorsed Jacque’s opponent, Alex Renard, in a Republican primary for a special election for the seat. The consensus among the Republican establishment appeared to be that Jacque simply could not win a general election in a district considered vital to holding control of the Senate. Despite those endorsements, Jacque defeated Renard in the primary.
Jacque did lose the June special election to Frostman but seemed to be playing for the four year term all along. That strategy paid off with a double digit win Tuesday.
Evers Defeats Republican Opposition Research
The Republican Party of Wisconsin and the Walker campaign built their case against Evers, for the most part, on a single issue: that as State Superintendent of Public Instruction Evers failed to revoke the licenses of teachers who behaved inappropriately. That included viewing pornography at school. Campaign ads and news releases made the case that the lapses in judgement disqualified Evers for the office of governor.
Despite the intense effort, the issue didn’t seem to stick with voters. Republican strategists were said to be confounded by the effort’s lack of effectiveness. Evers maintained that the claims were disingenuous; that state law precluded him from acting in most of the cases that were brought up, or that the cases were being inflated by Republicans. Voters, for whatever reason, didn’t seem swayed by the effort.
8th District Congressman Mike Gallagher
Gallagher has made civility a hallmark of his first term in Congress. He stressed listening to and talking with those he disagreed with politically, both officer holders and constituents. He also was unafraid to criticize President Donald Trump when he felt it necessary. This earned him scorn from liberals who felt he didn’t attack Trump strongly enough and conservatives who felt he shouldn’t criticize Trump at all. One conservative talk show host was particularly vicious in his criticism of Gallagher’s handling of Trump.
Gallagher’s temperament served him well Tuesday, cruising to reelection over Democrat Beau Liegeois by a 64-36 margin. Assuming Gallagher stays on his current trajectory, his name could be on a short list for Republican governor candidates in 2022, or U.S. Senate if Republican Ron Johnson doesn’t seek reelection that year.
Dale Kooyenga vs. Democratic attacks
State Representative Dale Kooyenga was expected to be in a tough fight with Democrat Julie Henszey in the race for the 5th District state Senate seat vacated by Vukmir to run for U.S. Senate. That challenge seemed to get even tougher when Democrats, late in the campaign, accused Kooyenga of speaking on the Assembly floor intoxicated during 2015 budget debate. Kooyenga vehemently denied the allegation to Media Trackers and defeated Henszey 51 to 49 percent.
Democrats and Redistricting
Democratic dreams of recapturing the state Senate evaporated. In fact Republicans have grown their lead in that house. But Evers in the governor’s mansion is a huge win when it comes to redistricting legislative and congressional districts after the 2020 census. Evers, as governor, will have a seat at the redistricting table. A challenge to the Republican drawing of legislative districts made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. As Vox reported recently, Evers will be able to try to roll back what it called “Republican gerrymandering” in Wisconsin.