Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett won nine of the state’s 72 counties, which included two of the largest (especially with Black populations) Milwaukee and Dane Counties. According to statistics reported by the city’s daily, Barrett won Milwaukee and Madison counties by slightly over 200,000 votes; 40,000 more than he had in the 2010 election. He lost the rest of the state by almost 380,000 votes; 90,000 more than in 2010.
Barrett won Milwaukee and Madison with the help of the Black vote, which many political observers said was key to a victory for the mayor.
The Black vote came out in great numbers as hoped. The political magazine “The Nation” reported on its website that the “turnout was up dramatically, so much so that on election day election clerks had to be shifted to predominately African American wards.”
The turnout of Black voters between the ages of 18 and 29 increased from 15 percent in 2010 to 16 percent on June 5. The increase in the number of young Black voters is not only a testament to Barrett campaign volunteers stepping up the effort to get the community out to vote, but the frustration and anger of young Black, Latino and Asians with the lack of employment opportunities and a secondary educational system that is getting further and further out of reach economically, thanks to Gov. Scott Walker’s policies.
The newspaper’s report suggests Democrats relied too heavily on Milwaukee and Madison to pull out the election. Many political observers believed Milwaukee and Dane were key to Barrett winning the election. It seemed many Barrett supporters and volunteers–including the mayor–miscalculated the feelings of voters in the rest of the state.
Many “out-staters” (those Wisconsinites who live in parts of the state besides the southeast portion, which includes Milwaukee) who feel the state’s largest city is an economic drain on the state and is riddled with crime and poverty, which they erroneously associate with the city’s entire Black community.
The daily paper’s report suggests the recall fervor diminished once outside Milwaukee and Madison. It seems those outside the state’s Democrats’ two strong holds are satisfied with the job Gov. Scott Walker has done so far.
Out-staters seem to approve of Walker’s stance on unions, healthcare, education and the poor, categories they assocate with the two cities.
Little was done by the Barrett camp, it seems, to persuade out-staters that Milwaukee is not the drain they have been lead to believe. The state’s largest city is still the straw that stirs the economic drink that is Wisconsin.
While many state voters might have expressed satisfaction with the governor, the incumbent still lost (and won) the same groups in his 2010 gubernatorial win. Walker lost women voters (but won with men), lost voters under 30 (but won among voters in every other age group), lost moderates (while winning with indpendents), lost college grads (but interestingly won with voters without a college degree), lost heavily with union households, lower-income voters, and the majority of state Democrats. As expected, Walker won the rural and suburban vote but lost the urban vote.
Interestingly when questioned as they exited the polls, fifty-one percent of voters who voted for Walker favored Democratic President Barack Obama for president over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Obama had the support of 18% of those who voted for Walker and 92% of individuals who voted for Barrett. Romeny could only muster 5% of Barrett voters. But only 67% of Walker voters said they support Romney. While that number is large, it is not the blow-out number registered by the aforementioned Barrett supporters for Obama.
These statistics make clear the Walker win doesn’t guarantee a Romney win in Wisconsin this November.
A graphic outlining 2010 gubernatorial election day exit poll data by Edison Research that was printed by the city’s daily recently neglected one category when identifying voting groups…race: How many Black, Latinos, and Asians voted? If a similar graphic is developed breaking down the type of person who went to the polls in the recall election, it’s a good bet race will be neglected again.
Of the local stories written about the June 5 election, only one focused on race (Milwaukee was identified–naturally–as having a lot of “low-income” and “minority” voters–in other words Black, Latino and Asian voters–who usually don’t show up for non-presidential elections.
It was also noted that Democrats could not afford a big drop-off last week). The closest mention of race was identifying voters as being “urban,” “suburban,” and “rural.” It was assumed “urban” meant “minority” voters (Black, Latino, Asian voters and low-income), and “suburban” and “rural” meant middle-class and affluent White or “non-minority” voters.
Many in and outside Milwaukee’s Black community felt Black voters needed a boost to persuade them to come out in great numbers. While some wanted President Obama to come to Wisconsin and make a campaign appearance, Black voters had to settle for former President Bill Clinton to inspire the Black base. Obama sent a Twitter message giving his support to Barrett, who was one of the earliest Democratic political figures to express support for Obama during his 2008 presidential run.
According to a Marquette University poll of groups that approved or disapproved of Gov. Walker done before the election, 60% of minorities (identified in the poll as “non-White”) disapproved the job done by the incumbent governor. While the story accompanying the poll focused on several categories such as “gender,” “marriage,” and “education,” to name a few, there was no explaination of race as a factor in the election.
Not to say race wasn’t important. It was…in Milwaukee’s Black community, where Barrett carried the day just as he did in 2010. Black media–radio and print (including the Community Journal)–was ardent in its support of Barrett and disapproval of Walker.
Radio station WMCS 1290 heard from callers–before and after the election–expressing their disapproval of Walker and support for Barrett. They and civil rights stalwart, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, praised the radio station for its election efforts–encouraging people to register to vote and explaining what individuals who were planning to vote for the first time had to do before and on election day.
Other callers to WMCS expressed dismay that several polling places located in the Black community ran low or ran out of election ballots last Tuesday.
According to a report on the website of the national political magazine Mother Jones, poll workers at Phyllis Wheatley School, 2442 N. 20th St. reported having only 10 paper ballots left shortly after 6 p.m. with many people waiting in line to vote. The polling place had already run low on ballots earlier in the day and election officials dropped off more.
According to the city’s chief election inspector, 548 ballots were cast at Wheatley School as of 6 p.m., more than twice as many as in previous elections.
The website also reported registration forms for residents signing up to vote also ran low or were gone at several wards in Milwaukee, a number of them in the Black community. Janet Veum, communications coordinator for “Wisconsin Jobs Now” told Mother Jones that registration forms ran out at Wards 141 and 142 at 2450 N. 6th St. Ballots and registration forms ran out at 53rd Street School, and ballots were running low at the Center Street Library.
Poll workers at Wards 108 and 109 at Ben Franklin School, 2308 W. Nash St., and Wards 110 and 111 at Children’s Outing Association, 2320 W. Burleigh St., also reported running out of registration forms for new voters.
The Community Journal received a call from a northside man wanting to vote before going to work. He said he was denied the opportunity to vote because he did not have the “proper forms of identification.” Poll workers at the location the man was trying to vote told him he needed a utility bill with his current address on it. The individual told a MCJ staffer he didn’t have a utility bill because the utilities at the apartment where he lived were taken care of by the landlord. He said he would not get off from work until around 6 p.m., two hours before the polls closed. It’s not known if the person voted or not.
The poorly stocked polling places in the central city (and most likely stories similar to the aforementioned one about people being denied the opportunity to vote for one reason or another) raised questions on Black talk radio as to the competency of City Election Commission Executive Director Sue Edman and if she should be replaced by Mayor Barrett.