Wisconsin’s angry blue fisters have been trying to delegitimize the election results ever since the people entrusted Scott Walker and legislative Republicans with control of state government in 2010. Anyone for a takeover of the Capitol?
The Left is even more despondent given Walker’s convincing recall victory last June and continued Republican hegemony in the Fall elections. All they’ve got left now are hobgoblins and campfire stories.
Stock in trade for the likes of "Wisconsin Wave," a George Soros-funded permanent protest group that led a "reject this legislature" rally in January at the Capitol. Their "Shut the Chamber" rally in February was marred by vandalism to the offices of their target, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.
Miffed that, while Barack Obama and Tammy Baldwin won statewide, "redistricting is entirely responsible for the GOP’s 'success’ in congressional and legislative races" in 2012, the Wave claimed. (Read it here)
Observing that Democrats took 51% of the vote nationwide but fell 33 seats short of a majority in the U.S. House, researchers John Sides and Eric McGhee ask: "Has gerrymandering allowed Republicans to defy the will of the people?"
Not really, they answer. For one thing, they observe, Democrats typically run up the score in densely populated urban areas in districts that are compactly drawn and properly respect communities of interest.
At most, they conclude, redistricting cost Democrats only 7 congressional seats. However, "once we took incumbency into account, the apparent effect of gerrymandering vanished."
The Blaska Policy Werkes and Tanning Salon applied the same rigorous metrics to the Wisconsin Assembly, whose 99 members face re-election every year as does the U.S. House of Representatives.
Talk about running up the score: in populous urban areas like Dane County, Democrats Diane Hesselbein, Melissa Sargent, and Chris Taylor were elected to their first terms on November 6 without Republican opposition. Republicans tend not to make the race unless they perceive a reasonable chance of winning. Maybe they’re more pragmatic that way. Perhaps doing so save resources for the close battleground fights. Which brings us to our second point, anon.
Democrats, on the other hand, seem more willing to run to throw themselves on the sword, make a point, or show the flag — even in heavily Republican Waukesha County. In fact, Democrats made the race in 95 of 99 Assembly districts; Republicans in only 76 — a difference of 19 seats. (Only 4 Republicans ran unopposed compared to 19 Democrats — not counting third-party or independent opposition.)
The sore-losing Left asserts that Republicans won 56 of the 76 seats they did contest with just 52 percent of the vote.
Here we apply Sides’ and McGhee’s test for incumbency. The Washington researchers give incumbents a 5 percentage point advantage no matter their party label.
"We know that incumbency is a powerful factor in House elections, bringing candidates greater visibility, adding to their campaign coffers, and deterring quality challengers from running," they write. Is it any different in the State Assembly?
Incumbent Republicans legislators ran in 45 of those 76 contested Assembly districts. Put another way: in 3 of every 5 contested seats a sitting Republican legislator was running on a very pro-reform record achieved in Scott Walker’s first term. Walker won his recall by +7 percentage points. Incumbency, as the credit card issuer might say, has is advantages.
By contrast, only 12 of the 76 Democrats in those 76 contested races were incumbents— nearly a 4 to 1 disadvantage to Republicans.
That is due in large part to the simple fact that the GOP had more incumbents to put in the field. They came into the election with a 59 to 39 advantage (with one right-leaning independent). That majority was achieved in the 2010 election. That’s right, the election held before the supposed Republican gerrymandering!
Democrats sued over the new maps. A three-judge federal panel made small changes in two Milwaukee districts but otherwise upheld the maps as constitutional and lawful.
Good government goo-goos (ever misplacing their trust in "experts") long for a supposedly non-partisan, unelected "commission" to draw legislative district boundaries. Of course, Democrats could have done so when they ruled the roost under Jim Doyle.