Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Wisconsin Republicans Hate Democracy

We think it's fair to say that Wisconsin is the most evenly divided state in the country right now, as far as Republicans and Democrats go. Here are the results for the six presidential elections of the 2000s:

Year Dem. Share Rep. Share Margin
2020 49.5% 48.8% D+0.7%
2016 46.5% 47.2% R+0.7%
2012 52.8% 45.9% D+6.9%
2008 56.2% 42.3% D+13.9%
2004 49.7% 49.3% D+0.4%
2000 47.8% 47.6% D+0.2%

Clearly, Wisconsinites loved them some Obama. But if you take those two elections out, then the Democrats have outpaced the Republicans, on average, by 0.15% in the presidential elections of the 2000s. That certainly says "evenly divided, maybe with a very slight Democratic lean" to us. If you include the Obama elections, the Democratic lean gets a bit less slight.

Despite this, Republicans have dominated statewide government for the past couple of decades. Thanks to gerrymandering, the red team has enjoyed a consistent majority, and often supermajority, in the two chambers of the state legislature. It's currently 22-11 in the state Senate and 63-35 (with one vacancy) in the state House. The GOP also managed to maintain a majority on the state Supreme Court for 15 years, from 2008-23. This gave the Republicans enormous power, even during the 9 years in the last 23 that a Democrat was in the governor's mansion.

At the moment, however, the trendlines are not so great for the Wisconsin GOP. We are in the middle of a Democratic gubernatorial term, and the state Supreme Court is 4-3 for the liberals, thanks to the landslide election of Janet Protasiewicz (she won by 11 points, 55%-44%). At the moment, the state legislature is still gerrymandered six ways to Sunday, as is the U.S. House delegation (it's 6R, 2D). But with the new composition of the state Supreme Court, that could soon change. As we've noted a couple of times, a lawsuit to that effect is already underway.

One possible option for the Republican Party would be to, you know, have better ideas than the Democrats. To win elections, and with them political power, because more voters like what the Party is selling. But that's not how it generally works with today's GOP. This is especially true in Wisconsin, where the right-wingers are wedded to a position on abortion that is clearly unpopular, and that is a major reason that Protasiewicz crushed her anti-abortion opponent.

And so, in the absence of being the more appealing party with the more appealing platform, Wisconsin Republicans have decided it's time to reach into the anti-democratic (and anti-Democratic) bag of tricks. To start, they want to fire Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe. The office is nonpartisan, and Wolfe's own political leanings are unknown, at least to the general public. She was picked by the three Republicans and three Democrats on the board that she chairs, then confirmed by the Republican Senate, which would seem to suggest that she's either fair and balanced or that she's a little right-leaning. By getting rid of her over alleged "election fraud," state Republicans would be able to either replace her with a fire-breathing right-winger, or else with nobody, hampering the ability of the board to ensure the integrity of elections. That is right; in the name of "integrity," Wisconsin's Republicans are taking steps they know full well will result in less integrity.

The current scuttlebutt regarding Protasiewicz is even sleazier. Only one Wisconsin Supreme Court justice has ever been impeached, and that was back in 1853 (and the justice was not convicted). The first problem, in 2023, is that Protasiewicz hasn't done anything remotely impeachable. That can be overcome, but it leads to a second problem: If Protasiewicz is convicted and removed from office, her replacement would be chosen by Gov. Tony Evers (D-WI).

So, if the House does impeach Protasiewicz, Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R) has said that his chamber will take no action on the matter. That may sound like a demonstration of decency and of principle, but it isn't. See, as in Texas (see above), once a person is impeached they are suspended from office until they are cleared of the charges. So, if Protasiewicz is impeached and then not tried, the Wisconsin Supreme Court would be 3-3 between liberals and conservatives, and there would be rather less risk that the state's restrictive abortion law will be overturned, or that the gerrymanders will be struck down.

With all of this undemocratic behavior, Wisconsin Republicans are undoubtedly alienating voters, and giving Democrats extra motivation to get to the polls. So, the odds are pretty good that Democrats will have the upper hand in statewide elections for a good while, including presidential, gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races (even if Sen. Ron Johnson, R-WI, once again violates his two-term pledge in 2028). However, if you're in the minority and your grip on power is slipping, apparently you gotta do what you gotta do. Darn that pesky democracy. Things would be so much easier if people couldn't vote. Now that we have brought up the subject, the legislature could write and pass a bill abolishing voting and have all positions filled by the self-perpetuating legislature. Evers would veto it of course, but the Republicans have the votes to override a veto. (Z)

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