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How Mitt Romney Lost Wisconsin After Scott Walker Won

Just five months after Republican Gov. Scott Walker handily won his recall election, GOP nominee Mitt Romney didn't have the same success in the presidential race.

It's a lost prize that stings for Republicans: How could Mitt Romney lose Wisconsin just five months after Gov. Scott Walker won it?

While nationally Romney barely surpassed GOP nominee John McCain's popular vote total in 2008 (58.6 million votes for Romney vs 58.3 million for McCain), in Wisconsin, the former Massachusetts governor surged past McCain by about 11 percentage points.

Romney had more votes than McCain in the bright red suburban Milwaukee counties. He even gained votes in dark-blue Milwaukee and Dane counties.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama didn't perform as well as he did in Wisconsin in 2008 — his vote total was 4.4 percentage points less Tuesday than it was in 2008.

But statewide, neither Romney's gains nor Obama's losses were deep enough to change the outcome of the election.

And when you compare it to the vote count in the June gubernatorial recall election, Obama significantly outperformed Democrat Tom Barrett, while Romney only did slightly better than Walker.

The question of how Romney lost will be analyzed for months and years to come by political pundits and the media, but here are some reasons, according to an analysis by Patch and an interview with Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette University Law School poll:

Romney didn't make enough gains over Walker: Although about a half million more residents voted for president than did in the June gubernatorial recall election, Romney only received about 73,000 more votes than Walker.

Walker received about 1.34 million votes in June. This week, Romney got about 1.41 million and Obama about 1.611 million.

Take Waukesha County, for example. Walker won the county by 45 percentage points, outpolling Tom Barrett there by about 96,000 votes. Romney won Waukesha County by 35 percentage points, beating Obama by about 84,000 votes.

Contrast that with Milwaukee County: Despite his statewide win, Walker lost that deep-blue county to Barrett by 27 percentage points, or about 107,000 votes. But Romney did worse than Walker in Milwaukee County, losing to Obama by 34 percentage points, or about 167,000 votes.

Even in counties that were red, they weren't red enough: Larger, northern counties - such as Brown and Marathon - went for Romney, but not by enough gains to deliver fatal blows to Obama.

"You didn't see big Romney wins, you just saw minimal wins," Franklin said. "The Obama campaign benefited from that by not having big net Republican votes there that they had to then make up somewhere else. Instead, they could get along pretty well."

Walker won Brown County, 60 percent to 40 percent in June; Romney just barely won it - 50.4 percent to 48.6 percent over Obama. In Marathon County,  Romney won it 52.5 to 46.4 over Obama, with about 4,000 more votes than Obama. But in June, Marathon County voters gave Walker nearly 15,000 more votes than they gave Barrett.

"You have got to be awfully happy to only lose by 4,000 in a county that was lost by 15,000 by your party in an election just five months ago," Franklin said.

Many northern and western counties swung from Walker to Obama: Counties that had a history of voting Democratic, including re-electing Jim Doyle as governor in 2006, suddenly swung hard red, voting for Walker over Barrett, and Republican Ron Johnson over Democrat Russ Feingold for U.S. Senate in 2010, and again for Walker in the June recall, Franklin said.

"If you look at the map today, there are still several red counties in that (northern and western side) region, but they're not that many and there are many blue counties," he said.

"The Obama people seemed to do relatively well by holding down their losses in some Republican areas and doing better in the west and the north than Barrett in either 2010 or the recall," Franklin said.

Obama's lead over McCain in 2008 was too steep to reverse: In 2008 Obama crushed McCain by 14 points, about 415,000 votes.

In Tuesday's election, Romney surged ahead of McCain, adding about 11 percentage points or more than 149,600 votes in Wisconsin. At the same time, Obama lost ground, ratcheting down his 2008 total by about 74,000 votes - or 4.4 percentage points.

Even that combination just wasn't enough.

Vote totals in key counties in recent elections


'08 presidential race Gubernatorial recall '12 presidential race County Obama (D) McCain (R) Barrett (D) Walker (R) Obama (D) Romney (R) Milwaukee      319,819      149,445 250,476 143455      320,654      153,635 Dane      205,984        73,065 176,407 77,595      215,389        83,459 Ozaukee        20,579        32,172 14,095 34,303        19,075        35,991 Waukesha        85,339      145,152 58,234 154,316        77,617      161,567 Washington        25,719        47,729 16,634 52,306        23,136        54,709 Racine        53,408        45,954 40,287 45,526        52,887        49,173 6-county total
     710,848      493,517      556,133      507,501      708,758      538,534 Source: Wisconsin Government Accountability Board; Associated Press

Kenny Williams November 12, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Walker wouldn't win again.
B. Guenther November 12, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Mark, settle down on the Romney would have killed this country through the slow agonizing death of an unleashed Wall Street. What was a major destroyer of the market that caused the meltdown? The easing of banking regulations for affordable housing. Those loans were then bundled into junk bonds and sold. Who or what did that? The US Government in the form of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. You can spin this anyway that you want but the House and Senate had the opportunity to put a stop to it and did nothing but put pressure on banks to make bad loans. So, though there are many in that field that took complete advantage of the situation let's put the blame where it belongs. It's like you are cussing out the lady at the ticket counter because the plane has been delayed.
Bert November 12, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Several factors make the comparison between the recall election and the presidential election flawed. First, many recall voters voted against the idea of a recall. This was evident in the exit polling, which showed an Obama LEAD and a Walker win. There were self-identified cross-over voters on that day. Had the two issues been voted on simultaneously, the outcome in both case would likely still be the same. The second issue is turnout. Look at the republican numbers versus democratic numbers in that tabulation. The republican numbers are pretty consistent across all three elections. The democratic numbers dip in the non-presidential election. As always, turnout favors democrats. This not only tells the story of these two results, but also explains the bogus "voter fraud" claims from the right used to justify voter suppression laws. Finally, the presidential election focuses on the policies and attitudes of the national parties, not just the local state parties. The dismissive attitude of national republicans towards the vast majority of the US electorate who are not "makers" (i.e. business owners, NOT employees), the misogynistic attitudes toward women, and the xenophobic, stereotyped beliefs about immigrants all reflect on the republican presidential candidate more so than the statewide candidate. Repubs need to change these attitudes or become obsolete.
CowDung November 12, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Bren: Did Walker truly misrepresent himself, or are you just misrepresenting his positions? Are you really claiming that his statement about adding 250k jobs in his first term was a valid reason to attempt to recall him after only 1 year in office? You seem to be forgetting that Walker was told (before he even took office, and in no uncertain terms) that the unions would never negotiate with Walker. How can you honestly say that it was Walker's fault (to the point of a recall) for not negotiating with the unions?
CowDung November 12, 2012 at 04:24 PM
As long as the Left defines 'misogyny' as 'not wanting to pay for birth control', or 'xenophobia' as 'not wanting illegal immigration', I don't think that the 'attitudes' of the national party is going to change (or become obsolete) anytime soon.
CowDung November 12, 2012 at 04:29 PM
If Bain was involved with a company, it was likely already on a path to failure. Bain wasn't in the business of destroying companies, they made their money from saving companies...
The Anti-Alinsky November 12, 2012 at 04:44 PM
And let's not forget that those representatives that the unions relied on were not at the bargaining table, all 14 were vacationing in a water park in Illinois
The Anti-Alinsky November 12, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Veryvile wrote: "...President Obama stands for the middle class and working people..." Vey, how do you define "middle class"? Is it a group of people that hands control to the government to determine what is best for them? Is it the group of people that want to equalize success because it isn't fair that their neighbor owns a jetski and they don't? Is it the group of people that expect to be taken care of regardless of how much or how little they contribute to society? Then yes, B.O. is for the middle class. Veryvile also wrote: "...We want the Affordable Care Act to cover and protect more Americans with health care..." We all want people to be able to have access to and afford health care. But B.O.Care has put the burden of paying for that onto the real middle class. My health care has gone up almost $2,000 since B.O.Care was passed, will go up another $1,000 next year, and another $800 (projected) in 2014. And yes, all of it due to B.O.Care. B.O.Care did NOTHING to solve the health care issue!
The Anti-Alinsky November 12, 2012 at 05:07 PM
continued: Veryvile also wrote: "...We want the kamikaze republicans against all tax increases to agree to revenue so the country can continue to recover..." Supply side economics is simple Very, the more money you pull from private sector pockets, rich or poor, the less you have to move the economy. How about instead of taxing we cut waste. We spent less money under Bush43 and that was with 2 wars going on! Veryvile also wrote: "...We can not allow the GOP to ruin Medicare and Social Security..." Medicare and Social Security are already ruined. We need to make some major changes. Leaders like Paul Ryan have brought forward solutions for starting talks, but the Liberals just cover their ears and start babbling incoherently. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIrltAkTf38 Veryvile also wrote: "...When the only thing the GOP stands for in being the one percent and protecting the one percent that do not represent most of the country.... You have no clue what you are talking about. My boss has made the comment that there is no way he would start his business today. Too many regulations, too many agencies to deal with and too much money going to the feds. Veryvile finally wrote: "...It is time the wealthy pay more taxes and don't get any more tax cuts ad nauseum..." And again, that much less money to stimulate the economy.
The Anti-Alinsky November 12, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Very, the Liberals just want to keep taking more money from the rich. In 2008, when B.O. first ran for office, he promised to cut the deficit in half by 2012. The deficit that year was 458,553 Billion. Today it is 1.326 Trillion, triple 2008, not half. And we've been borrowing that much from day 1 of B.O.'s administration. WHY THE HELL ARE SPENDING SO DAMN MUCH!!!
Satori November 12, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Here is an interesting read that discusses how the Romney election camp dropped the ball from a technology standpoint. It discusses the ORCA project. http://ace.mu.nu/archives/334783.php
patchreader 123 November 12, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Bren: I understand your point; however, your purported end result appears misguided. President Obama is a shrewd politician. He weighed the odds that supporting a gubernatorial candidate who had already lost the previous election would likely do him (i.e., Obama) more harm than good; the chances were too great that Barrett would lose again. This could only harm Obama in his run for re-election. Same thing applies to Obama’s absence of support during the Chicago teacher’s strike, especially in view of the fact that his Democratic ally and friend Rahm Emanuel was leading the charge against the teacher’s union. Quite the choice: side with the union and betray your ally and former White House Chief of Staff; or side with your ally and undermine your support received from organized labor (and God-forbid, jeopardizing Ohio and Michigan union backed support).
FBSport November 12, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Muse - you need to think bigger picture. Obama has been repeatedly failing for four years. What makes you think he woke up on Nov. 7 with any new ideas about how to fix his mess? And I do mean HIS mess - we're not going to let him get away with blaming George Bush forever.
patchreader 123 November 12, 2012 at 06:43 PM
I guess we’ll just have to see if Obama’s sacrifice of the teachers in Wisconsin (and to a certain extent Illinois) is truly justified in view of the bigger goal of slaying the ALEC dragon, as you purport. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath. The only way slay the ALEC dragon is through substantive campaign finance and lobbying reform, and Obama has been feeding off of the same campaign finance injustices as every other politician in this country (both Democratic and Republican alike). Of course, after initially resisting super-Pac support, post Citizen’s United, president Obama reversed direction and embraced it - all to win re-election, and likely without any campaign finance legislative goals in mind. You state that slaying the ALEC dragon is “not a situation that can be fixed in the short term.” I reply that it is not a situation likely to be fixed at all, by President Obama or anyone else who is either a Republican or Democrat. Thus, your ALEC justification appears to ring hollow.
patchreader 123 November 12, 2012 at 06:50 PM
oops, did it again. Citizens United, if it really matters.
James November 12, 2012 at 08:47 PM
When Walker ran his initial campaign for election he ran on his brown lunch bag. Indicating he was working for the average Wisconsinite. When he did get elected, he turned around and forced collective bargaining reform on the public unions. The democrats used a last ditch effort to block the bill, I'm not going to say I agree with it. During this event we found out that Walker was definitely open to out of state influences. Although Walker's reforms have worked in terms of balancing the budget, Walker's lack of tact when it comes to dealing with the unions didn't reflect his brown lunch bag attitude he campaigned with. Were the union's uncooperative initially, yes, but after it was apparent the union stood to lose everything they most definitely wanted to come to the bargaining table. In the end Walker refused changes to his bill excluding exceptions for some of the most dangerous jobs, police and firefighters. As someone who does take a brown paper bag to work every day I find that I don't agree with his methods. This state has become as polarized as the rest of the nation and its not just Walker, the Democrats who left for Illinios are equally guilty. This is Wisconsin where we are moving forward, progressing, and compromising, not like Washington.
CowDung November 12, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Where is the conflict between 'working for the average Wisconsinite' and 'limiting collective bargaining for public unions'?
EveKendall November 13, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Annie, you really must find more reliable news sources, breitbart, lush, icky and FOX do not report news, they are considered ENTERTAINMENT for you mentally challenge teabillies.
EveKendall November 13, 2012 at 01:14 AM
How many times must teabillies be shown that what they believe are lies? No matter how many times a lie is told, it's still a LIE.
Bucky November 13, 2012 at 03:51 AM
don't worry he's gone !
Bucky November 13, 2012 at 03:54 AM
But we are not moving forward, progressing, and compromising, and that is the problem and it will never happen as long as Walker is in office.
Bucky November 13, 2012 at 04:00 AM
Who was the average Wisconsinite and who is the average Wisconsinite now ?
Bucky November 13, 2012 at 04:03 AM
and from what states is the gov going to bring all the miners in from ? There is no Repugs in this state that are going to work period much less in to a mine to do mannual labor.
dpatric2 November 13, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Walker's recall victory was because of the electorate's distaste for the recall and was not an approval of his reforms & leadership style. Walker's political twin, Paul Ryan, and Romney were defeated. Walker's right hand man in the Assembly, Jeff Fitzgerald, only got 12% of the vote in his U.S. Senate race, when he ran on the Walker reforms and record. I look forward to the 2012 elections despite the gerrymandering redistricting that was done by the Republicans!
morninmist November 13, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Good for them. Governor Walker's own Capitol police are suing him over their right to collectively bargain. host.madison.com/news/local/cri… An association representing law enforcement agencies including University of Wisconsin officers and Capitol police has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law effectively ending collective bargaining for most public workers. The lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association makes similar arguments as a lawsuit brought by Madison teachers and Milwaukee city workers. A judge in that case in September overturned major portions of the law as it pertained to school district employees and local government workers. Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/local/crime_and_courts/law-enforcement-group-sues-over-collective-bargaining-law/article_e25e4986-2dce-11e2-92df-001a4bcf887a.html#ixzz2C8h8z67I...
B. Guenther November 13, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Those portions that were overturned were not because the Act 10 was illegal. Those portions were overturned...get this...because those portions were not fair to non-union workers.
morninmist November 14, 2012 at 05:32 PM
The TeaGOP gets nuttier every day. Can the US cut taxes and balance the budget by letting the red states secede? Interesting story wapo.st/ZKaUZx via @Jane_WI The Confederacy of Takers By Dana Milbank, Nov 14, 2012 12:10 AM EST The Washington Post Published: November 13 President Obama’s opponents have unwittingly come up with a brilliant plan to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” They want to secede from the union. ...Red states receive, on average, far more from the federal government in expenditures than they pay in taxes. The balance is the opposite in blue states. The secession petitions, therefore, give the opportunity to create what would be, in a fiscal sense, a far more perfect union.... Yet would-be rebels from the red states should keep in mind during the coming budget battle that those who are most ardent about cutting government spending tend to come from parts of the country that most rely on it.
morninmist November 14, 2012 at 06:00 PM
TeaGOP nuttiness!---WI style! http://thepoliticalenvironment.blogspot.com/2012/11/nine-wisconsin-goptea-party-legislators.html November 13, 2012 Nine Wisconsin GOP/Tea Party Legislators Go Over The Cliff ... The call by nine Wisconsin legislators for the arrest of federal government officials if they implement the health-care marketplace "exchange" designed to help Wisconsin residents find health insurance is nothing short of a mass Thelma-and-Louise-or-Jonestown political move: Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) is one of the nine from Wisconsin who told the Campaign for Liberty he would back legislation to arrest federal officials who took steps to implement Obamacare in Wisconsin. He said he believes the health care law is unconstitutional, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that the passes constitutional muster.... In addition to Kapenga, those listed as supporting the Campaign for Liberty's positions are Sen. Mary Lazich of New Berlin; .....It's one thing to grieve the outcome of an election. It's another to way overstep your role, the federal system, and the Constitution - - and in the process stir up voters and constituencies who look to leaders for good information and rational conduct. ...
bobdole November 18, 2012 at 06:04 AM
Oh Charlie Brown, you're probably an old dude that still reads chain emails.
morninmist November 19, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Fordham Study: Public Policy Polling Deemed Most Accurate National Pollster In 2012 PPP & Daily Kos/SEIU/PPP tie for 1st place in polling. http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/fordham-study-public-policy-polling-deemed-most-accurate

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