Subscribe to the Daily Update This first appeared in the RightWisconsin Daily Update on September 20, 2018.

Dear Readers,

It’s bad out there, and I don’t just mean it’s bad because of the mosquitoes. Some of you are in denial, some of you are trying to remain optimistic. I realize some of you come to RightWisconsin looking for a glimmer of hope.

It’s bad out there.

In case you didn’t hear, the latest Marquette University Law School Poll has Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers ahead of Governor Scott Walker 49 percent to 44 percent. Okay, we can handle that, right?

The latest Marquette poll also shows state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) currently losing to Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) 53 percent to 42 percent. Even the Right Track – Wrong Track numbers are going the wrong way. Right Track is down three points from last month to 50 percent.

As Bill Murray said at the beginning of Stripes, “And then depression set in.”

Our friend Brian Fraley says it’s not time to panic yet, which is good news. Brian is not nearly as cheerful as I am. Oh, wait, he’s generally more optimistic than me. Damn.

Well, let me throw out a couple of more reasons for optimism from an unlikely source. Scott Bauer of the Associated Press pointed out on Twitter that the September 2016 poll had Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) behind former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) 47-41 percent. Donald Trump was also trailing Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin at the time, too.

We know what happened. The polls tightened and then, at the end after the polling, the undecided voters broke at the last minute for Johnson and Trump. Polls are only valuable as a snapshot in time, as the cliché goes.

The other cliché is that it all comes down to turnout. And that’s where I’m worried.

There are two persistent negative indicators for the Republican Party this year. One is the gap between Democrats and Republicans among college-educated suburban women. Despite the strong economy, these voters are currently turned off to the GOP. We can blame President Donald Trump, or the melange of issues that are top of mind for voters this year, or both. Most likely both.

But college-educated women won’t be casting a vote against Hillary Clinton and her baggage this year. Nor do they perceive the U.S. Supreme Court is on the line in the midterm elections. (By the way, is it a coincidence that the last attack on the Brett Kavanaugh nomination is an issue that would specifically appeal to this demographic? Causation or correlation, we may never know.)

The other indicator is just the lack of general enthusiasm for the election. Apparently when Trump’s supporters triumphed in 2016, they were like locusts. They consumed the GOP and moved on. Quite a number of them are even believing that there is no way Democrats can win in November. “Fully half of self-identified Republicans don’t believe Democrats are likely to win back the House,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports. “And within that group, 57 percent of people who describe themselves as strong Trump supporters don’t believe Democrats have a chance (37 percent believe they do).”

As Green Bay Packers Head Coach Vince Lombardi once said, “If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.”

Right now, the Democrats are fired with enthusiasm, while the GOP is hanging on until it’s fired. Volunteers are scarce. You can’t even get Republicans to man the phones or throw candy at parades for candidates. It’s as if, when Trump won in 2016, everyone just assumed that Making America Great Again will happen by finding the right celebrity apprentice to sell hot dogs on the corner. (I think that was an actual episode.)

Meanwhile, the Democrats are rallying, ignoring the nine arrests for Bryce and ignoring how Baldwin let veterans down at the Tomah VA hospital. The Democrats don’t care. They’ve adopted the other Lombardi slogan (whether he actually said it or not), “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”

We’re seeing it in the Marquette Poll, too. Only 64 percent of Republicans are very enthusiastic about voting compared to 75 percent of Democrats who are really enthusiastic. Dr. Charles Franklin, who runs the poll, says this number bounces up and down, but Democrats have been up more often than not and their enthusiasm is up at the right time.

Despite what you may believe, the Democrats can win this fall. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Governor Tony Evers, Congressman Randy Bryce, Congressman Dan Kohl, Attorney General Josh Kaul, even Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), it can all come true.

As bad as it is out there right now, it could get a whole lot worse.

James Wigderson