Wisconsin's swing state status

If there's one think we've learned about elections in Wisconsin, it's that they can swing either way.

On Tuesday, President Obama extended his party's winning streak in Wisconsin presidential elections to seven. Despite what appears to be Democratic dominance, many still consider Wisconsin a swing state.

"You can't predict by political party how Wisconsinites will vote," said Nancy Nusbaum from the Brown County Democratic Party.

"By no means do I think we're a solidly blue state," added Republican strategist Mark Graul.

Want evidence? Just look at the most recent presidential elections.

When you compare 2004 to 2008, there were 32 counties that President George W. Bush won that switched over to Obama, including counties like Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago.

Click here to see detailed election results from 2004 and 2008

Graul, who ran Bush's Wisconsin campaign in 2004, explains how that could happen.

"I think 2008 was an unusual year," he said. "A lot of folks who switched their vote, who had voted for George W. Bush in 2004 and were unhappy with his second term, who were excited about Barack Obama and voted for him in 2008. I think you did have a lot of cross over in that situation."

Then this year, 22 of those swing counties swung back to the Republicans and Mitt Romney. Just 10 of them stayed with Obama.

Let's not forget that Republicans also took back control of the State Senate and maintained their control of the State Assembly.

Lawrence University political science professor Arnold Shober says this year's results are more typical to Wisconsin.

"Romney was able to push the map back to a traditional Wisconsin looking map where the Democrats have an edge but the Republicans do respectable in these parts of the state," Shober said.

Still, winning the swing counties wasn't enough to give Romney to a win. That's because of the huge number of Obama voters that came out in Democratic strongholds like Milwaukee and Dane Counties.

When asked why the Obama campaign is so successful at turning out its voters Nusbaum replied, "It's an old political cliche but it's true which is organization, people, being smart, having a lot of field offices, touching people, not once or twice but multiple times. I know we drove people crazy. I know we did that. And I want to apologize but that was how we got out voters."

Even Republicans were impressed.

"The Obama campaign, they're going to write books about it and I'll buy it and read it because what they did in terms of targeting and turnout is, from a pure campaign strategy standpoint, was magnificent," Graul said.

Now that the 2012 campaign is in the books, some are already looking ahead to 2016.

"Republicans can take heart that the state is not lost. It's shown its true colors, if you will," Schober said. "It's leaning slightly Democratic but not gone for the GOP."

While Democrats may be on a presidential roll in Wisconsin, don't expect our swing state status to change any time soon.

Copyright 2014 WLUK TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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Wisconsin (change)

 
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Wisconsin’s population totaled 5,686,986, a 6.0% increase over the 2000 U.S. Census count of 5,363,715. (Source: Wisconsin Blue Book)
 
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Governor: Scott Walker
Lieutenant Governor: Rebecca Kleefisch
Attorney General: J.B. Van Hollen

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