The victory of Republican Brian Hagedorn over Democrat Lisa Neubauer in a key state supreme court election in Wisconsin has caught national attention as a potential harbinger for the 2020 election. It has underscored what many have reasonably claimed: Wisconsin could be the most important and most hotly-contested battleground state in 2020.
So what should we make of Hagedorn's election?
First, it should be noted that a low turnout election like this one does not favor the Democrats. There is a very high probability that the composition of the Presidential year electorate in 2020 will be more favorable for the Democrats.
But second, it does indicate how tough this state will likely be for Democrats when they're running against Trump. Wisconsin in 2016 had 58 percent white noncollege voters, a figure that is likely to still be 56 percent in 2020. As this group goes, so likely will Wisconsin.
Consider the 2016 election. There was roughly an 8 point margin swing against the Democrats relative to 2012. Of those 8 points, around 7 can be accounted for by a large swing away from the Democrats by white noncollege voters and about a point is attributable to a substantial drop in black turnout (States of Change analysis).
Or consider 2018. Democrat Tony Evers' gubernatorial victory was based above all on cutting the Democrats' 2016 deficit among this group in half (exit polls). Without that, Evers doesn't win the election.
So let's hope this 2019 Wisconsin defeat s is a wake-up call for the Democrats. It's clear what they need to do in 2020. Can they do it?
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