, ,

Western Wisconsin Swings Heavily For Donald Trump

President-Elect Wins 11 Counties Obama Won Comfortably In 2012

People voting
Michael Dwyer/AP Photo

Republican President-elect Donald Trump dominated 11 western Wisconsin counties on Tuesday that voted overwhelmingly for President Barack Obama in 2012.

Trempealeau County went for Obama by 14 points four years ago. This year, Trump won by nearly 13 points.

Third Congressional District Republican Party Chair Brian Westrate said the region’s silent majority has spoken.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“They proved last night that they are finally just fed up with a political class, with an establishment in Washington, D.C. and with a popular culture that has been trying to tell them how to live their lives, that has been trying to control what they can do, what they can say,” Westrate said.

Democrats in western Wisconsin said they were not expecting Republicans to sweep the polls in Tuesday’s election.

The state’s western border tends to lean Democratic during presidential years. But almost every county in the area went to Trump and other Republicans on the ticket rather than Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and other Democrats.

One reason for the change could be that Trump motivated rural, white voters in a way that was underestimated.

But Scott Champion, chair of the Vernon County Democratic Party, said a lack of motivation from Democrats could have been a deciding factor.

“There were some voters on the more progressive or more extreme side of the Democratic Party who just didn’t find themselves in a comfort level voting for Hillary Clinton,” Champion said. “I don’t think Donald Trump on his own would have won the election without sort of that counterbalancing influence.”

A groundswell of support for Trump and Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson seemed to also have an impact on down ballot races in the area.

Democrats lost the 92nd state Assembly seat and barely held on to Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling’s 32nd District seat. A recount of the Senate race is expected with initial results showing Shilling won by 58 votes.

Political scientists are skeptical whether this year’s races changed the political atmosphere in western Wisconsin.

“Depending a lot on voter turnout, I think western Wisconsin will continue to be an area that will go back and forth between the two parties and a lot depends on the candidates,” said Joe Heim, political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

But it could mean changes in future races from local political parties.

“We have a lot of lessons to learn from our friends on the Republican side about how to function successfully as an opposition party, and I think it’s time for Democrats to learn those lessons and keep our voice active and relevant,” Champion said.