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Wisconsin: Blue Inroads

State Assembly (House): 36 Democrats, 63 Republicans
To Flip Blue: 14 Seats

In 2018, Democratic candidates received 200,000 more votes than Republicans and won all statewide offices, but are teetering on the brink of superminority in the Assembly. Just 2 years ago, Democrats received 54% of the vote for State Assembly, but won only 36% of the seats, all due to Republican gerrymandering.

The GOP already has a supermajority in the WI Senate, which makes the House super important: the GOP is just 3 seats away from gaining a supermajority in the House. Fending off a Republican supermajority in the House will allow Democrats to retain a seat at the redistricting table. If we can keep the GOP from gaining a supermajority, we can retain Democratic Governor Evers’ veto power over the next set of maps.

These are ‘last chance’ races: whoever is elected to the WI state legislature in 2020 will draw the next round of district lines.

Fast Facts

  • Current Control: Divided. Governor – D; Senate – R; House – R
  • Gubernatorial Election: Not up in 2020
  • Length of State Assembly Terms: 2 years
  • Candidate Filing Deadline: June 1, 2020
  • State Legislative Primary Date: August 11, 2020
  • Redistricting: State legislature controls Congressional and state legislative redistricting; Governor has veto over maps
  • Electoral College Votes: 10

Broader 2020 Opportunities

  • Wisconsin is a critical, perennial battleground presidential state. Before Trump won by 22,000 votes in 2016, Wisconsites had voted for the Democratic presidential nominee in each election since 1992. Wisconsin is one of the “Big Four” states that are likely to control the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, and many pundits believe WI may be the single state upon which the election will turn. Democrats have a tremendous opportunity to claim WI’s 10 Electoral College votes this year, with smart organizing, expanding the electorate through voter registration, and turnout efforts.
  • There are also two competitive Congressional races in WI this year (WI-03 and WI-07).
  • Working to support WI state legislative candidates will be instrumental in helping drive turnout up and down the ticket in this historic election year.

Population Demographics



Median Age


Male | Female

49.7 % | 50.3%

Racial Diversity

White: 85.59%; Black: 6.38%; Asian: 2.76%; Two+ races: 2.35%; Other: 2.01%

2016 Election

Hillary Clinton

Votes: 1,382,536
Percentage: 46.45%
Electoral Votes: 0

Donald Trump

Votes: 1,405,284
Percentage: 47.22%
Electoral Votes: 10

District Lines

In Wisconsin, both congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn by the Wisconsin State Legislature. These lines are subject to veto by the governor.

The Wisconsin Constitution requires that state legislative districts be compact and “that they be bounded by county, precinct, town, or ward lines where possible.” The state constitution further stipulates that state legislative districts should be contiguous.

New Voter Restrictions

from the Brennan Center 2019 Report:

New restrictions enacted in 2018: In 2018, the state passed a law limiting the early voting period and codifying certain administrative practices related to voter IDs—despite a Court order halting the state’s 2011 and 2014 attempts to limit early voting. A federal district court has blocked these new provisions, however.

New restriction(s) in place for the first time in 2016: Photo ID required to vote. Click here to see the types of ID required under Wisconsin’s law.

Background: In 2011, state lawmakers passed a restriction on individual voter registration and a law requiring photo ID to vote.

In 2014, the legislature also reduced early voting hours on weekdays and eliminated them entirely on weekends. These cuts were in effect for the first time in 2014. They are currently on hold after a July 2016 trial court decision finding the restrictions were intentionally racially discriminatory. That decision also ruled voters could obtain a free photo ID by showing up at a state DMV office.

Read more on the ongoing litigation over the photo ID and early voting restrictions, which were passed by a Republican-controlled legislature in 2011 and 2014, and signed by a GOP governor a restriction on individual voter registration and a law requiring photo ID to vote.

Voter Suppression

Wisconsin passed a “strict voter ID law” in 2011 which contained a short list of acceptable identification. This reduced voter turnout to a certain degree, but there were additional problems: Student IDs had to be less than two years old and contain a signature, the nonpartisan agency responsible for educating the public on voting rights was disbanded, and, worst of all, acceptable photo identification was frequently circumscribed on a de facto basis, i.e. numerous voters with acceptable photo identification were told that their acceptable photo identification (e.g. veteran’s photo identification, student photo identification, expired photo identification issued by a Wisconsin native American tribe) was NOT adequate. Often this was enough to discourage a citizen of Wisconsin from voting.

Additionally, while Wisconsin’s DMVs, voting registration tables, and precinct polls displayed “No birth certificate, no problem” posters (birth certificates or US passports being an alternative means of obtaining valid photo identification, the sad reality was more a case of “No birth certificate, no ballot for you.”

Wisconsin was able to replace their Republican governor in 2018, but gerrymandering kept the GOP in control of their state legislature for another two years. As a result, the tug of war over voter suppression in Wisconsin will continue.

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