Tuesday, September 19, 2006

WI Democratic AG Primary Analysis - Part II

There's more! The first part of my analysis showed how effective Kathleen Falk's TV blitz was, at least in the areas where Peg Lautenschlager couldn't respond due to insufficient campaign cash. But I made the statement that Falk won the race due to this factor, and part II will back up that statement, and look at some of the other interesting aspects of this election.

The map in my first analysis showed how strongly each of the counties in Wisconsin supported one of the AG candidates. While this is very useful for evaluating the effectiveness of campaign and advertising strategies, it's only part of the story. Counties are not created equal, and some have a heck of a lot more voters than others. After all, cows can't vote in Wisconsin, although Republicans would probably like to change that. So I made another map, only this time the intensity of the color shows by how many votes one of the candidate won each county. Once again, Red is Falk, blue is Lautenschlager.

As you can see below, Dane (Madison) and Milwaukee counties had by far the largest margins for their favored candidates. But interestingly enough, the two counties almost canceled each other out, with Dane showing a margin of 10113 votes for Lautenschlager, and Milwaukee a margin of 8397 for Falk. But Falk won the election by almost 20,000 votes, so where did they come from?

As I claimed before, they came from the red stripe; the Wausau/Rhinelander and the La Crosse/Eau Claire media markets. Despite the fact that there aren't a huge number of votes in any of these counties individually, which is why the stripe is light pink in this map, Falk won all of them by healthy margins, totaling about 23,000 votes, more than enough to offset the fact that Lautenschlager actually won in the rest of the state.

Below are the two maps side by side. The left map shows how strongly each county tilted to one or the other candidate (essentially the margin in percentage terms), and the right map shows the same, but reflecting the actual number of votes.

The lesson here is that despite the large number of votes in Madison and Milwaukee, you ignore the rest of the state at your peril. In this election there were about 360,000 total votes, with just under a third of those coming from Dane and Milwaukee counties combined. Because Lautenschlager didn't raise nearly as much money as Falk (the reasons why might make a rather interesting discussion), she wasn't able to respond to Falk's ads, particularly the negative ones. Progressives have to remember that money buys elections, whether we like it or not. As my political mentor says, "Work like hell for campaign finance reform, but until then donate 'til you bleed."

Update: A few people have asked where they can find the full fall '06 primary results. The most complete online listing I know of right now is in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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