Note, this first appeared in the RightWisconsin Daily Update on November 2, 2018.   Subscribe


One, I apologize if your first name actually is “*ifnamei*, or the artist formally known as *ifnamei*. You see, I spent a couple of hours yesterday with my social media guru who told me that readers don’t like to be addressed as “readers.” So if your first name doesn’t appear at the top of this email and you see *ifnamei* instead, at least you can understand why. She also kept saying something about “no capes,” although I was wearing my Brewers hoodie at the time.

My guru also taught me how to write exciting subject lines for the newsletter, and even provided a list of one-thousand interesting subject lines. So look forward to, “you won’t believe what Scott Walker has planned next!” and “Leah Vukmir just destroyed Tammy Baldwin on dairy farming!”

It’s not my fault. I’m just a writer, and this social-media marketing stuff is the type of stuff you see in every email from every campaign until you’re ready to scream to your friends, “I can’t believe the latest outrageous thing Tony Evers just said!”

At this point, some of you are asking, isn’t he supposed to be talking about politics? Yes, but this newsletter is supposed to be very conversational. After you feel like I’m your friend, you will click on the ad at the top of the page or feel like buying stuff (you know you want a First Amendment coffee mug).

We’re feeling very close now, aren’t we? No hugging.

Now we’re to the point where I’m supposed to really, really pitch you hard on whatever it is that I’m selling. So let me sell you on an idea: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) and Gov. Scott Walker (R) can both win re-election.

When I said that last year at a politics forum hosted by our friends WisPolitics, the other panelists questioned my sanity. I admit, I didn’t have a ready explanation how that could happen in supposedly evenly-divided Wisconsin. But we’re looking at the latest Marquette University Law School Poll results and it’s entirely possible.

The latest results are Walker and Tony Evers are tied, while Baldwin has a substantial lead (54% to 43%) over state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield). The state’s right track – wrong track numbers are 55% think Wisconsin is headed in the right direction while 42% think the state is moving in the wrong direction.

Think about that for a moment. A substantial majority thinks Wisconsin is heading in the right direction, yet Evers could still win. Vukmir, one of those responsible for Wisconsin‘s current direction, is in serious danger of losing her election. What’s going on?

One factor is the typical anti-incumbent party midterm election blues. The party controlling the White House tends to suffer in the midterms and, let’s face it, President Donald Trump does a good job of motivating Democrats to dislike him. Hence the voting enthusiasm gap, seen earlier this year in the Spring and special elections, and in the latest poll results (seven point difference between Democrats and Republicans). Worse, independents are breaking the Democrats’ way so far.

Another factor is the 19th Amendment. The “gender gap” we hear about in every election cycle is real, and it actually hurts Vukmir more than Walker. What Wisconsin Republicans need are more women getting married and going to church every week. Otherwise, suburban women are going to take their frustration with Trump out on Republican candidates, especially Vukmir who has not had an unkind word to say about the president since he was nominated by the GOP in 2016. Vukmir has an unfavorable rating with women of 48% to 29%. Baldwin leads Vukmir among women 61% to 36%.

Walker, on the other hand, is only losing among women 52% to 42%. It sounds like a lot, but men prefer Walker over Evers 54% to 42%.

Will voters show up to punish Trump by voting against Vukmir and still vote for Walker? Let’s consider two more factors. One, there will be a different vote total for each race. In other words, more people could vote for governor than for the Senate. Even less will vote for attorney general, so Attorney General Brad Schimel could be re-elected even if Walker and Vukmir both lose. (Schimel is also courting a Democratic cross-over vote with the bipartisan support from law enforcement, etc.)

But it’s also not unprecedented for voters in Wisconsin to choose a governor and senator from different parties. Governor Tommy Thompson (R-Elroy) won re-election in 1990, 1994 and 1998. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Basketball) won re-election in 1994. Sen Russ Feingold (D), whose list of actual accomplishments was about the same as Baldwin’s list, won re-election in 1998.

It’s not what some of you want to hear, of course, and some of you will question the accuracy of any poll. And the message from Vukmir supporters is that their election modeling shows something very different. I get it.

So let me make one last “call to action,” as my social media guru describes it. If you haven’t already voted, make sure you vote on Tuesday. You won’t believe the satisfaction you’ll get voting for someone like Vukmir instead of Baldwin. And if enough of you decide you’re going to do your best to prove me and the pollsters wrong, than you will.

Now buy something, because you won’t believe the wonderful feeling you’ll get from wearing a #WiRight baseball hat.

James Wigderson