Wisconsin Democrats See Changes as Helping Biden

Wisconsin Republican doesn't buy theory that competitive legislative races will boost presidential turnout
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2024 1:35 PM CDT
Democrats: New Map's Benefits Could Trickle Up to Help Biden
Wisconsin Speaker of the Assembly Robin Vos speaks during a news conference in September 2023 in Milwaukee.   (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

Wisconsin's presidential primary Tuesday clears the way for a general election campaign that Democrats see as an opportunity unlike any in recent state history. New legislative districts adopted last month erase Republican advantages that gave the GOP dominance of the Wisconsin Assembly even as Democrats won 14 of the past 17 statewide elections. Democrats think they can now compete for a majority, the AP reports, but also that invigorated legislative campaigns can help turn out votes for President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in November. The state's Democratic Party chairman describes the idea as "reverse coattails," a play on the idea that down-ballot candidates are carried by the top of the ticket.

"It drives up turnout among people who had been unlikely to vote in a way that can directly affect the number of votes we get for Biden-Harris," Ben Wikler said. "It's why, I think, there are consequences far beyond the state Legislature of having the new state legislative maps drawn." It's too early to test Wikler's idea. But both parties say the fall rematch between Biden and Republican Donald Trump will be fought at the margins in several of the most contested states, including Wisconsin, which flipped narrowly from Trump to Biden four years ago. The Assembly speaker, Republican Robin Vos, whose job is to recruit and elect GOP candidates to maintain the party's majority in the Statehouse, rejected the Democratic premise.

"Everybody who goes to vote is going to be voting on the presidential race because that's where all the oxygen is going to be," Vos said. Democrats argue there will be renewed personal attention to neighborhoods in small towns, suburbs, and rural areas that had been GOP-heavy areas but are now in more competitive districts, per the AP. Those districts were considered not worth the effort before. Now, they will get more campaign staff and volunteers to drive turnout. "Their base is going to be motivated by hatred of Donald Trump," Vos said. "Their base is not going to be motivated because you have two candidates running for the Legislature in Stoughton."

(More Wisconsin stories.)

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