5 Takeaways From Wisconsin’s 2018 Primary Results

Aug 15, 2018

The Wisconsin partisan primary is over and the results have set the stage for the general election in November. To help put those results into perspective, Lake Effect's Joy Powers chatted with Lilly Goren, professor of political science at Carroll University.

VIEW: Wisconsin 2018 Primary Election Results

Here's a look at five key takeaways from Tuesday's partisan primary election in Wisconsin.

1. Goren says the outcomes of Tuesday’s primary were expected, highlighting Leah Vukmir’s win for the Republican vote for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin and Tony Evers’ win for the Democratic nominee for Wisconsin governor.

“They ran in contested races, but they won those races in the primary fairly handily,” she says.

2. Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan is retiring from Congress, opening his seat. So, could a Democrat win District 1?

“An open seat is usually an easier option than defeating an incumbent, particularly a high-profile incumbent," Goren says. " ...  It’s going to be about a lot of retail politics, too, from both these candidates. It was made a little bit safer in the last redistricting for Republicans, but for an open seat it’s not necessarily a guarantor.”

3. Republicans hold the majority in both the U.S. Senate and House, but there’s been a lot of talk about turning them. Goren thinks that's a possibility.

“ … The folks running as incumbents, like [Sen.] Tammy Baldwin who were elected when President Obama was elected in 2012, are defending seats that are potentially easier for Republicans to pick off,” Goren says.

With such close margins in the Senate — Republicans have a majority with 51 seats, Democrats have 47 seats — she says Democrats could win some races in November. Goren points out that all 435 House seats are up for grabs in November’s election, and that there are some seats there that could potentially swing.

4. Multiple news outlets are reporting that Wisconsin voter turnout was around 22 percent, the highest turnout since 2002.

“There’s been a lot of discussion nationally regard to people being more engaged in politics. That this sort of Trump era has really gotten people, on both the left and the right, engaged in politics so we’ve had primaries that people are paying more attention to than they usually do,” Goren says.

5. Some races were likely decided in the primary, according to Goren.

With no contenders from the other aisle in the primary, the race for Milwaukee County Sheriff won by Democratic Earnell Lucas is mostly concluded. Also, Gorden says that Republican James Sensenbrenner Jr., of District 5 "often does not field a challenger from the democratic party," so she thinks he will likely win in November. (Though, he will be facing Democratic Tom Palzewicz who ran for District 5 with no challenger in the primary.) While Democratic incumbent Gwen Moore does have a Republican challenger, Goren says District 4 is typically safe for Democrats, so she will likely be re-elected.