We’re about halfway between the Feb. 21 primary and the April 4 general election for state Supreme Court.
In today’s polarized political atmosphere, the likelihood that anyone will shift their vote from one side (the conservative judicial candidate Daniel Kelly) to the other (liberal judicial candidate Janet Protasciewicz) is increasingly slim. That’s a shame, because each candidate deserves a fair shake, regardless of whatever political litmus test individual voters apply. Values should be based on facts, and subject to re-examination when new facts present themselves.
In an ideal electorate, it would be hard to second-guess or handicap an electoral outcome, because all voters would be looking at all facts — and their values and assumptions about those facts — all the time.
Nevertheless, we have mathematical models of electoral turnout and results. Pollsters and pundits opine, with varying degrees of accuracy, on the subject of how we will or should our ought to or should not vote. We don’t live in some newspaper columnist’s dream world. We live in this one.
So it’s worth looking at where Dodge and Jefferson Counties stand with regards to the statewide results for the primaries to get a handle on two notions: where the electorate stands in regards to the candidates (absent the invisible labels we all think are attached to the candidates in an ostensibly non-partisan-but-really-very-partisan race), and where the electorate stands in the state.
Knowing the numbers locally gives us a better understanding of where we, our friends and neighbors stand relative to other Wisconsinites. That might, in turn, lend us to a critical examination of our values. They might not change, but context is key.
As most pundits will admit, eventually and with much argument, there’s really only one poll that matters, and it’s going to be taken on April 4 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Dodge County voters liked Daniel Kelly and Jennifer Dorow.
Of 12,874 votes, Dorow and Kelly account for 8,437 — or 66% — of all votes cast.
Kelly led the way with 4,364 votes, followed by Dorow with 4,073 votes and Protasiewicz with 4,013 votes.
Turnout in Dodge County — the county had 51,575 registered voters as of Feb. 1 — was about 25%. That estimate is rough because of Wisconsin’s Election Day registration practice, but I’m pretty confident in the number because the registration changes between Feb. 1 and March 1 indicate Dodge County lost 53 voters, or less than 1%, according to figures from the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
That’s about 13% of the total votes cast for Everett Mitchell.
Jefferson County voters were similarly fond of Kelly and Dorow, although less than their Dodge County electoral colleagues.
The two conservative candidates garnered 57% of the 12,955 ballots cast.
However, the candidate with the largest share of the vote as an individual was neither Kelly nor Dorow. Protasciewicz garnered 5,586 votes, good enough for a 43% share of the total vote.
Turnout in Jefferson County — based on the same figure used to estimate Dodge County’s turnout — was also about 25%, based on the Wisconsin Election Commission registration figure of 51,721 votes on Feb. 1.
The same qualifier applies here, although the trend in Jefferson county is a little different. The Jefferson County electorate increased by 18 voters between February and March, based on the election commission results.
If we look at the two counties together, conservatives collected votes at roughly a 60-40 split with liberals.
Statewide results don’t precisely match either county, though they’re closer to Jefferson than Dodge.
Protasciewicz pulled the state total by a narrow margin over the summed vote totals for Kelly and Dorow. She could do better if Mitchell voters switch to her camp.
While Protasciewicz did better than other candidates in Jefferson County, she wouldn’t win either county in the event of a unified conservative vote.
The transition between Feb. 21 and April 4 will thus likely be marked by transition questions for voters. Assuming Kelly wins all of his voters back, does Kelly pull all of the Dorow votes? Do Dorow voters split between Kelly and Protasciewicz? Do primary Dorow voters say home?
If turnout is high in Dodge and Jefferson Counties on April 4 — higher than the roughly 25% we saw in the primary — does that mean Kelly returns to the Supreme Court instead of Protasciewicz?
It’s worth taking the time in the next few weeks to question how we all voted (or if we voted) and whether or not our values are worth changing in light of the likely results.
The outcome could hinge on the results of our consideration.
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