Legislative Update, Fall 2018

October 17, 2018 3:33 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

Eric Jensen, WACEP Lobbyist

In less than three weeks, on Tuesday, November 6th, Wisconsinites will go to the polls to vote in races for the U.S. Senator, Governor, 17 of Wisconsin’s 33 State Senate districts, all 99 of Wisconsin’s State Assembly districts and a variety of local elections and referenda.  Between now and then, we’ll be inundated with radio and TV ads, campaign flyers (and maybe candidates) at our front doors, political “robocalls” and media reports about candidates, races, polls and predictions.  ‘Tis definitely the season!

Political insiders watch political polls like hawks, hoping to glean from them predictions of election outcomes.  But in 2016 we learned a powerful lesson about political polling in modern times – not one national pollster predicted victory by President Trump, either in Wisconsin or nationally.  More and more, people of different demographics are moving from landlines to mobile phones increasing the difficulty of getting a representative population sample in a poll.  That simple fact, along with how questions are asked, who asks the questions and a variety of other factors increase the difficulty of getting statistically accurate poll results.

For WACEP, our attention is primarily on the races for Governor, State Senate and State Assembly as the outcomes of those races can have a profound effect on health care policy making for the next two years and beyond.

The Governor’s race is the one most discussed in the state’s media.  Governor Walker has served two four year terms, yet won election as Governor three times.  Tony Evers, his Democratic challenger, has served as Wisconsin’s State School Superintendent, himself winning multiple statewide elections.   As divided as Wisconsin’s voting population has become, and both candidates holding strong name recognition throughout the state, this race figures to be close to the end.

In the State Senate, after Democrats won two previously Republican-held seats during Spring Special elections, Republicans hold a 18-15 majority heading into November.  Democrats are focusing on two key Republican seats (one in the Appleton area, one in the large rural district west of Madison) in an effort to win the majority.  But Republicans see opportunities of their own to win back one of the Special Election seats in the 1st Senate District in Door/Kewaunee County, as well as a far northern seat that includes Superior, Ashland and Rice Lake.

In the State Assembly, Republicans hold a far larger 64-35 majority.  To win the majority, Democrats must hold all their current seats and win 15 more.  It’s a daunting challenge, and while anticipated high voter turnout in places like Democratic stronghold Dane County may have a big impact on the Governor’s race, it won’t affect Assembly races in central and northern Wisconsin.

The outcomes of these 2018 elections will come down to voter turnout for both parties – throughout the state, not simply in party stronghold areas.  As you see polls being reported in the media, remember 2016.  Elections aren’t won by polls or pundits, they’re won by votes – so get out and cast yours on November 6th!