The (Red) State, the (Blue) City

A few remarks on the recall elections:

There are thousands of happy and thousands of disappointed Wisconsinites today.

A third-party voter looks at elections differently, because in many cases he or she doesn’t have a partisan candidate in the race; one votes for or against the candidates of other parties. This places a certain distance between the third-party voter and the candidates – there’s just not the same ardor or abhorrence. The legitimate appeal of a major party’s chance to form an administration isn’t present (or isn’t appealing enough to entice membership in either leading party).

One goes on, to the next debate, the next elections, with neither the hope nor the worry that one’s own party members will win or lose.

Although control of the state senate may change hands, this is for now a predominantly red state. How long that will last I’ve no idea, but at the state level Gov. Walker has a comfortable base: 1,331,076 to 1,158,337, 53-46%. That’s more than adequate.

The City of Whitewater’s moved in the opposite direction: without campus being in session, Whitewater still chose Barrett over Walker, by about 1,988 to 1,460. There may be some adjustment to these totals, from Jefferson and Walworth Counties, but that’s a greater margin than I would have expected. (Walworth County – now with a much better, much needed election details pdf – and Jefferson County results are online. Walworth County chose Walker 26,201 to 14,330; Jefferson County went for Walker 22,461 to 14,678.)

Barrett carried each of the precincts in the city, in either county. Whitewater’s progressives have typically done better in bigger elections, not as well in smaller, spring elections. (See, Why Whitewater Isn’t a Progressive City; Why Whitewater’s ‘Conservatives’ Hold the City Tenuously.)

What they haven’t been able, or wanted, to do is to remake the city as a blue town, so to speak. A recall election won’t change any of this, and the town fathers remain principally conservative. Over time, however, there is likely to be a generational change to a blue(r) city within red or redder Jefferson and Walworth counties. That’s not simply because of how people in the city and counties will be voting; it’s because I’d guess the next generation of voters will be assertive about shaping their communities’ institutions along more ideological lines.

That kind of transformation has already happened in other parts of the state, in communities dominated, respectively, by the left or right.

It’s likely to come to our area, too.

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