Wisconsin held a special election for a Supreme Court seat yesterday.
The seat represents the swing vote in a ruling on whether Wisconsin governor Walker’s legislation to limit the power of public-employee unions is legal.
John Ellis and Grace Wyler covered the results last night. The vote was remarkably close and is headed for a recount.
Live-blog below. Start at the bottom for an explanation of why the election is important.
Wednesday Morning Update:
Here’s the current tally, according to the AP:
Precincts Reporting: 3625/3630
After trailing Prosser by less than 2,000 votes for most of the night, Kloppenburg pulled ahead just slightly this morning on votes from Sauk County and the final Dane County (Madison) precinct.
Precincts Left To Report:
Jefferson County: 1 precinct (Prosser leading with 58%)
Juneau County: 1 precinct (Kloppenburg leading with 52%)
Milwaukee County: 2 precincts (Kloppenburg leading with 57%)
Taylor County: 1 precinct (Prosser leading with 61%)
Still no news on those 8,000 Milwaukee absentee ballots. Either way, there is no way this isn’t going to a recount.
Final Update: Last vote tab:
We’ll be back on the grid tomorrow. Grace Wyler may follow with a couple more updates. But I have to get up in three hours. So time to sleep. See you bright and early.
Update #30: As a smart e-mailer writes, we’re looking at “ugly recount” here.
Update #29: We’re going to wrap this up shortly. I’m going to take out the rest of the recycling and come back and take one more look at the AP data. But, as we said before, this is almost certainly headed to a recount.
What an amazing election. We’ll have one more in about 10 minutes and then more tomorrow.
Prosser has 724,859 votes
to Kloppenburg’s 723,175. The percentages are 50%-to-50%.
Update #28: This is headed for a recount. Please email if you have any info on absentees. Address: [email protected]
Update #27: Absentees! 8000 to be counted in Milwaukee, says the Mayor (how convenient!). Prosser lead 1600 votes.
Update #26: Back to 2000 vote lead for Prosser.
Update #25: Snapback! He’s up by 5000 votes!
Update #24: Eau Claire is still out and Kloppenburg is now ahead! Unbelievable. I just finished emailing Grace to say that Eau Claire was all she had left! Where did that vote come from. This is when you miss that network software.
Update #23: It’s still very, very close, but from what we can see, Prosser now has the edge. Earlier this evening, it was hard to see how Prosser could get to 50%-plus-one. Now it’s hard to see how Kloppenburg does.
Update #22: 95% of the precincts reporting: Prosser leads by 1800 votes.
Update #21: Advantage: Prosser! He’s got vote left out in Waukesha and Dane is all in. Prosser leads by 6K.
Update #20: The race is tied (essentially).
Prosser is putting up some truly crazy numbers in Waukesha and Washington counties. Both are solidly conservative. But 77% and 78%? Those are crazy. I would have penciled him in at 67/68%.
Turnout likely to fall lower than we originally projected. Maybe 1.45 million. Thereabouts.
Update #18: Snap back! Race tightens right back up! Waukesha County! Fond du Lac! 73-27 Prosser. Wow! Race is now essentially tied, again.
Update #17: The margin for error is getting tighter and tighter for Justice Prosser (R). Pretty soon here, his “need/get” is going to be a too tall order.
What happens as the vote piles up is that the remainder of the vote still out can be neatly arranged.
It’s out in counties that have voted some of their precincts, but not all. So you can do some back of the envelope stuff and calculate what a GOP candidate “needs” and what GOP candidates in countless past elections have “gotten.”
That’s why they call it the “need/get.”
Basically, election projections are made when the “need/get” becomes impossible. Prosser is getting close to that place. He trails now by 35,000 votes.
Update #16: We’re not quite ready to project a winner. We’re thinking Democrat. But we’re not quite there yet. Just a few more pieces of data and we can all go to bed.
Update #15: Another former colleague texts to say that the edge is ever so slightly Democratic tonight. I’m right in the middle. I think it’s going to be what we used to call a “recount territory” election. We’re examining the “out vote” now (as best we can). More in a bit.
She’s ahead by 5K (roughly) with 75% of the precincts reporting.
Update #14: The GOP candidate for Milwaukee County Executive was slaughtered at the polls today. Scott Walker was the Milwaukee County Executive for 8 years and used it as his launching pad for governor.
Update #13: Still tied.
Update #12: With 2/3rds of the precincts reporting, the race is tied again.
I’ve always liked Chippewa as a “key”county. A Democrat should win it. Mike Dukakis carried it with 54% of the vote in 1988. Perot did well there in both 1992 and 1996. It’s a place where independents decide the outcome. She’s getting 51% of the vote in Chippewa. Not really safe enough. But she is winning it.
Update #11: An esteemed former colleague is arguing (based on the county vote tables) that Prosser will emerge the victor by a slender margin. I’m not there yet. But I see his point. Prosser now leads by 19K, with 62 per cent of the precincts reporting. He’s running very well in all the places he needs to run well.
Update #10: Kloppenburg (D) has the lead for the first time. 4K advantage. Link to vote is here.
Update #9: With 50% of the precincts reporting, it is tied.
Update #8: Correction on the projected turnout: we’re looking at 1.56 million, not 1.65 million. Typo! Prosser maintains (roughly) 20K lead, with roughly half the vote counted.
Update #7: Justice Prosser has opened up a (roughly) 20K lead, but it’s not compelling. Lots of Democratic precincts still out.
We’re getting closer to 50% of the precincts reporting. On the other hand, he’s running smartly ahead of where Republicans usually land in a number of key counties.
We project turnout at 1.65 million, which is massive for an election of this kind. Total turnout in the Clinton re-election campaign of 1996, by way of comparison, was 2.1 million.
Prosser (R): 272K
Kloppenburg (D): 270K
Update #4: Tight as can be. Prosser 259K, Kloppenburg 256K.
Update # 3: Incumbent Republican Prosser has opened up a (very) slight lead. (Keep refreshing link in Update #1) Both candidates are running well in the places where they should run well. The places where it should be close: it’s close.
Update #2: Election remains very close with roughly 17% of the vote counted. Turnout consistently strong across the state when compared to February primary returns.
Better vote link is here. Keep refreshing. Race appears very tight. Turnout massive (for this kind of election). Maybe 4x the State Supreme Court primary in February (back when no one cared and Prosser was a shoe-in).
It’s too early to say what will happen tonight in Wisconsin. The early returns are very close. At this exact moment, the vote is evenly divided, 50%-50%. You can follow the voting here.
This special election for one seat on Wisconsin’s State Supreme Court is important because it has become a de facto referendum on the Administration of newly-elected Governor Scott Walker (R).
Gov. Walker rammed legislation through the Wisconsin State Legislature that sharply curtailed the power of public employee unions. The unions and their Democratic allies, both in Wisconsin and nationally, fastened upon this special election as the appropriate forum for payback.
The Wisconsin State Supreme Court is closely divided. The incumbent on the ballot today, State Supreme Court Justice Richard Prosser, is the swing vote of seven. If he wins, it is likely that the legality of Governor Walker’s legislation would be upheld by the Court by a vote of 4-3. If Prosser loses, it is likely that Governor Walker’s legislation will be struck down by a vote of 4-3.
As a result, the political community is watching the results carefully. So are we and we will keep you posted.