Here's How To Tell Who's Going To Win Tonight's Wisconsin Recall Election

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker looks poised for a historic victory in tonight’s recall election against his Democratic challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on Tuesday.

The outcome of the election will largely come down to turnout — the Wisconsin recall is highly polarised, and few undecided voters are expected to head to the polls today. That will gives us a good idea of which way the election is heading once the results from a few key counties trickle in. 

Here’s a breakdown of the counties you need to pay attention to:

Wisconsin recall map


Milwaukee and Dane CountiesThese are the two Democratic-leaning counties could provide the first glimpse into whether it’s a good or bad night for the Barrett campaign, according to Marquette Law School pollster Charles Franklin said.

Barrett got 61 per cent of the vote — almost 210,000 total — in Milwaukee County against Walker in the 2010 gubernatorial election (compared with 47 per cent overall). Milwaukee’s turnout in 2010 was about 48 per cent, but Barrett might need even higher this time around. But Milwaukee’s turnout fell from 2008 to 2010, and again during the 2011 recall elections. “That’s why you saw Bill Clinton and Jesse Jackson Sr. in Milwaukee this week,” Franklin said.

Dane County went for Barrett at a nearly 68 per cent clip last time around, as he got almost 150,000 votes from the county. If Barrett doesn’t match or exceed these numbers, it spells bad news for him. 

Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee Counties: These are Walker’s counties to watch. All three of these counties routinely provide robust Republican support, usually more than 70 per cent. They also happen to form the border around Milwaukee. Altogether, they provided Walker with about 210,000 votes in the 2010 election. 

Rock County: Franklin singled out Rock County as important because he said it traditionally has the third-most net Democratic voters after Milwaukee and Dane. But its turnout shrunk considerably from 2008 to 2010 — which is significant, because part of the Barrett team’s strategy is to get some counties to 2008 turnout levels. Barrett got 52 per cent of the vote there to Walker’s 45 per cent in 2010. By comparison, in 2008, Barack Obama got 64 per cent of the vote to John McCain’s 35 per cent.

Brown County: Brown, which contains Green Bay, usually tilts Republican. The margin is the key factor to watch here, Franklin said. Walker beat Barrett 56-42 last time around. In 2008, Obama beat McCain 54-45. No one expects Brown to shift Democrat tonight, but if something happens to make it swing back to between a 4 and 6 point margin — like say, the Green Bay Packers pushing for Barrett — it could spell trouble for Walker. 

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