In the aftermath of the Nov. 6 elections, words like “fickle” and “schizophrenic” are being bandied about to describe the Wisconsin electorate.

How else can anyone explain a group of voters who simultaneously picked Democrats Barack Obama for president and Tammy Baldwin for U.S. Senate while preserving a 5-3 Republican edge in its congressional delegation and giving the GOP a commanding majority in both houses of the state Legislature?

But the vote tallies in Wisconsin’s congressional and state legislative races were not nearly as lopsided as the parties’ resulting share of seats, according to a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism analysis. The breakdown between Republican and Democratic votes was close even in the races for Congress and state Legislature, where the GOP scored substantial wins.

Some election observers say these results, which ensure that Republican Gov. Scott Walker will have strong GOP majorities heading into the next legislative session, owe largely to redistricting — the redrawing of voting district boundaries based on the U.S. Census.

“The outcome of this year’s U.S. House as well as state Senate and state Assembly elections testify to the power of redistricting,” said Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonpartisan clean-government advocacy group.

For instance, Republicans received 49 percent of the 2.9 million votes cast in Wisconsin’s congressional races, but won five out of eight, or 62.5 percent, of the seats, according to the Center’s analysis. The Center analyzed unofficial 2012 results reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and official 2010 results from the state Government Accountability Board.

The vote breakdown in the state’s congressional races was comparable to that for president and U.S. Senate, where the Democratic standard-bearers won 53 percent and 51 percent, respectively.

Wisconsin’s experience is not unique.

Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago, recently wrote in a Huffington Post blog that Republicans won 55 percent of all House seats nationally while capturing less than half of the total vote. Stone said the GOP “won control of a substantial majority of state governments” in 2010, then “used that power to redraw congressional district lines in such a way as to maximize the Republican outcome in the 2012 House election.“

In Wisconsin, redistricting based on the 2010 Census was done largely in secret by the Republicans who controlled the state Legislature. Democrats accused the GOP of using this opportunity to cement its electoral advantage, which in itself is not illegal.

In March, a panel of three federal judges upheld most of the state’s redistricting process, including the congressional component. The panel did strike down the redrawing of two Assembly districts, saying it diluted the power of Hispanic voters.

“There is no question — none — that the recent redistricting effort distorted the vote,” said Ken Mayer, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Nobody takes seriously the notion that the legislative plan for congressional districts wasn’t politically motivated.“

McCabe said the lines were “drawn in a way that squeezes most Democratic voters into a few districts and widely disperses their voting power across the rest of the districts.” That left GOP candidates “with a pronounced electoral advantage in congressional and legislative races.“

But Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, the new Assembly speaker, didn’t agree that redistricting played a significant role in his party’s fortunes. He said there have always been districts that due to high turnout and other factors lean to one side and that the GOP simply did a better job of getting out the vote.

“Every district is on its own,” Vos said. “There are competitive seats in every part of the state. And I think that at the end of the day, voters made a choice to pick the best individual candidate.“

In the 2010 contested Assembly races, the GOP got a slightly larger proportion of seats than votes. In 2012, that pattern was even more pronounced.

This year, Republicans won 56 of the 76 contested Assembly seats in the Nov. 6 election. That’s 74 percent of the seats — which they won with just 52 percent of the 2.2 million votes.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin furnished the Center with data showing that if uncontested races were included in the analysis, Democrats actually received 200,000 more Assembly votes than Republicans. Most uncontested races were in Democratic districts.

The GOP’s new 60-39 majority in the Assembly is nearly the same as it was heading into the election: 59-39, with one independent.

In the state Senate, Republicans won six of 11 contested races, including two seats that had been held by Democrats. The Republicans now have a 17-15 advantage in the state Senate, which will likely increase to 18-15 after a December special election in an overwhelmingly Republican district.

But the Democrats actually outpolled the GOP in these contested state Senate elections, winning 50.5 percent of the 941,000 votes cast.

Cal Potter, a former Democratic state lawmaker who now serves on the board of Common Cause in Wisconsin, a nonpartisan watchdog group, noted that the redistricting after the 1990 and 2000 Census was done by the courts, because the Legislature and governor were split and could not agree on a plan. This time around, he said, the GOP ran the show and was able to maximize its electoral advantages.

(18) comments

needfairtradepolicy

But Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, the new Assembly speaker, didn’t agree that redistricting played a significant role in his party’s fortunes. He said there have always been districts that due to high turnout and other factors lean to one side and that the GOP simply did a better job of getting out the vote.
That's pretty amusing. Why did the Repubs redraw the district lines then?

old timer

As disgusted with politics (and politicians in general) as I currently am, I read this article and wonder "Why should I even care?" By the time the next census comes in, and redistricting comes along again, the party in the majority is gonna do the same thing all over again, and it appears that there is apparently nothing that can be done about it! This wasn't about what could be done to better things for the taxpayer, it was about getting ones self re-elected! Which by the way, is a politicians primary objective once in office, with the number 2 objective being following the party line. It ain't about you and me folks! Now you know why I'm so disgusted.

youknowme
youknowme

Weird...I never saw this mentioned when the Repub's lost seats in the recall elections. Unbelievable!

ChippewaFallsWisconsin

What's even more weird is that you didn't see it because I said something then. Don't make comments that just aren't true, you are just assuming that nobody made comments at the time you are claiming, which I did. So please don't make comments on what you assume.

youknowme
youknowme

I'm referring to the bias in the media.

southernboy

In Wisconsin there were 193,000 “ more ” Democrat Votes cast than Republican Votes cast.
193 Thousand more people voted Democrat than Republican & yet both, the State Assembly and State House secured Wins for Republicans. In Wisconsin less is more 193k less votes somehow is a majority which resolved with the election of Elizabeth Vos & Scott Fitzgerald. Wisconsin technically went from center left to far right and were experiencing the results of a know nothing majority.

Have the Republicans made any State Law that has withstood Judicial review first course?
{Show me a Court that says these laws are lawful and not present, a well secured belief like slavery was and we can perhaps have a conversation.]

With Wisconsin’s pandering in this last election, I hope your prepared to pay for the confidence you bought.

Yes, Let the Crazy Begin....

let see what scott walker does this week

youknowme
youknowme

Your question should be, have any laws been passed that a liberal judge out of Madison hasn't hated. The States finances happen to be getting way better at this point and you are just upset that it can be done without a trillion dollar stimulus per year.

EC-Reader

Easy to balance the budget when you point to someone else and say "make them pay". I pay enough...

youknowme
youknowme

Why isn't Obama balancing the budget then since that's the approach he has taken? Maybe it's not that easy and what Walker did is very different than how you put it. Everybody pays enough...oh except those who pay zero.

southernboy

YKM Two things--
1) That would mean accepting your premise which is not only baseless but irrelevant
I'm not sure you are capable of believing any judge voiding the illegal law, not because your view is so obviously correct but because, your label doesn't arrive itself from reason but rather a soundbyte which asks the listener to accept a self serving definition conclusively. What makes the judge Liberal, can you name/cite "any" part of the ruling and apply the definition in real terms and not a Soundbytes.

2) you made two statements first " the states finances are way better" Second, you then suggested " I was upset about there not being a Stimulus"
I must wonder what made-up or unbelievable scenarios you've dreamed up considering none of the points in my post are disputed by your reply, I have to assume that when you then invented "my position" in order to justify yours, it was then you ceded that i consider any real value to your response in its entirety

bblwizard

This really boils down to the folks in the large population centers (Milwaukee and Madison), which seem to generally lean to the left, wanting to control the rest of us folks that live in northern and western Wisconsin.

ChippewaFallsWisconsin

How can you possibly say that? Why don't you actually look at the counties that voted for Obama. Eau Claire, Menomonie, Douglas, Bayfield, Sawyer, Price, Lincoln, La Crosse, etc. These are all low population counties. The North, the Southeast, the Southwest, all voted left. Why do you make false statements to make a point? that's what is wrong with this site, people say whatever they want to make a point, no matter what the facts are.

bblwizard

Let's look at a hypothetical situation here. Say there are three different races, the first race is won by the democrat 75 votes to 25 votes, the second race is won by the republican 53 votes to 47 votes, and the third race is won by the republican 56 votes to 44 votes. Wow, look at that, more people voted democrat (166 - 134) yet the republicans won two of the three seats. Does the fact that more people voted democrat than republican mean that the democrats should control things. No, more republicans won their individual races so they control things like the State Senate and State Assembly.

ChippewaFallsWisconsin

You're absolutely correct. But it is what it is, it will never change.

Thundercloud

Our elected forms a cumulative representation of our entire state based on one person-one vote. If the majority of the state leans one way or another, then that is the choice of the people of our state. Obama carried Wisconsin twice. Walker carried Wisconsin twice. The people of Wisconsin made their choice.

mowboy25

Elections mean something. The cry babies on the left had no problem with this process when they were in control did they. Now it is unfair?

On another election success hopefully we are closer to finally getting beyond the two time losing triangle of Kreitlow-Dexter-Smith. Hopefully these two time losers got the message this time.

ChippewaFallsWisconsin

Cry babies? All I heard for the last four years was crying from the right about what the left is doing. And in Wisconsin, the right has had control. There are two main differences depending who is in power. When the left is in power, they listen to the people, and help the middle class. By that means, they spend more than they have. When the right is in control, they don't listen to a word the people have to say, and they cut, cut, cut. The middle class pays the price while the wealthier get wealthier. The pro is the budget gets balanced. Look at Moulton, he is finally having a listening session, but how long overdue is it? What has our new triangle done? Absolutely nothing. Wait, they passed a wolf bill. Wow, what a way to spend years in office. They vote straight party. What the elections say is that the majority of people like Walker, and the majority like our President. It says we need more cross party votes, not King Walker or King Obama.

ChippewaFallsWisconsin

When Walker got reelected, the right kept saying the people spoke and the left has to deal with it. Well now the same goes for the right, we have the same president, deal with it. I have one question though, why is the right on Washington so against making the wealthier pay a little more? That is what Obama is asking and we could avert the fiscal cliff, but the right won't have it. Obama has billions of cuts in the new budget, all he is asking for is the wealthy pay a little more. They can afford it. Why is the right so against the one thing? All they have to do is concede one thing, and they won't budge. If it's to make a point, they sure are dong that, hurt millions of middle class families. If Romney was truthful, he wouldn't want that to happen. Boehner could care less, I feel.

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