With 92% of precincts reporting Scott Walker is the victory in the Wisconsin recall tonight. His current margin of victory is 52.9% to 46.5% for Milwaukee mayor Scott Barrett (D). This margin of victory is dramatically above what exit polls stated it would be. Furthermore it is bigger then Walker’s 2010 victory over Barrett less then 19 months ago.
Devoid of debate over what Walkers win means (that will come in a later post) I want to look at just how Walker scored such a significant victory. Exit polls showed a much closer race which of course did not happen. Some of the big takeaways from the obviously flawed exit polls indicated that the electorate was slightly less Democratic and Republican then 2010. It also indicated fewer conservatives showed up at the polls then 2010. It showed union members making up 33% of the electorate and Barrett winning them more then he did in 2010. Overall the exit polls, despite their flaws, showed the electorate basically split the same way in 2010.
But the actual results do not match the polls. Walker cleaned up in virtually every part of the state he needed to except in Dane (Madison) County. In that county he significantly under performed his 2010 totals. That was to be expected. What was not expected was for Walker to virtually win every other region of the state by bigger margins then 2010.
Take for example Racine County. This county also featured a competitive state senate recall race which was to close to call as of this writing. Racine County is the quintessential swing county in Wisconsin. In 2008 Barack Obama carried the county. In 2010 Scott Walker did. In the recall however Walker appears to already have built on his 2010 winning margin by about 1,000 votes with only 38% counted.
In the collar counties Walker consistently over performed his 2010 totals. Walker built his win on familiar GOP suburban territory, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Walworth and Washington Counties. In Waukesha County alone Walker increased his 2010-2012 totals by over 11,000 votes. Barrett in turn was unable to improve on his 2010 numbers in Milwaukee. He did however on his 2010 numbers in Dane County to the tune of winning 9,000 more votes then he did in 2010. However Walker’s combined improved performance in the Collar Counties and even Milwaukee easily eclipsed Barrett’s improved performance in Dane County.
But that is not the whole story. Walker also performed consistently above his 2010 performance in the key and rural Northwest of the state. Short of Douglas, Bayfield and Ashland counties, all which have heavy union presences, Walker improved on his 2010 performance. In the Midwest portion of the state Walker increased his 2010 successes or held steady. In the Green Bay TV market, which includes Central and Northeast Wisconsin Walker easily eclipsed his 2010 totals.
In short Walker dominated the state in virtually every region. Barrett only had successes in the heavily union counties in the Northwest and Dane County. He could not even outperform his 2010 total in Milwaukee. Walker had no such issues virtually anywhere in the state. And that folks is how Walker won the recall by the numbers.