Possible primary panky

So are you sticking to your party on September 14th?

You know, Wisconsin makes primary season more fun than about any state I’ve ever studied. We have an open primary. That means you can walk in undeclared and vote for whichever side you’d like. There’s no registration by party on our voter rolls like there is in many states. In Oklahoma for example, one must register as a Republican if one hopes to vote in the Republican primary. An Independent registration means you don’t get to vote until the final election.

By the way the very best explanation of how to manage a Wisconsin ballot is provided by the Dane County League of Women Voters:

Voters in the fall partisan primary do not need to declare their party affiliation when they appear to vote or register to vote. However, the voter must choose a political party or choose to vote for independent candidates in the voting booth. The voter must cast votes for individual candidates within the chosen political party or vote for independent candidates. As stated on the ballot, β€œAn elector may cast a ballot in the primary of only one political party or for independent candidates.”

One need not mark the blank indicating party preference. However, if candidates from more than one political party are marked, or if political party candidates and independent candidates are marked, the entire ballot will be invalidated if a party preference is not selected. If a party preference is selected, the votes for candidates in that party will be counted, but those in the other parties will not.

Got that? Once you vote on the Republican side of the ballot, all your votes need to stay in that party or your vote won’t count. (That was the simple paraphrase.)

And that’s where the upcoming primary gets really fun.

Democrats are not fond of the WISGOP candidate Scott Walker. Not only do they fear he has (had?) a better chance of winning over Tom Barrett, his policies implemented as Milwaukee County Executive are despised among many of the union members in the state. Ordinarily, I would expect Milwaukee County Democrats to cross over, vote the Republican side of the ballot, and tromp Walker.

But, Milwaukee County Democrats really dislike Democratic Sheriff David Clarke. They think primary challenger Chris Moews is the one who could take Clarke out. In short, Milwaukee County Democrats will be voting the Democrat side of the primary ballot.

It could be a very different story in Dane County. When you look at the list of candidates for that county, only Assembly District 77 has a Democratic primary challenge. (Thanks again to the Dane Co. League for the fabulous list.) That means the rest of the county’s Democratic stronghold can vote the Republican ticket without consequence. Milwaukee County will secure Tom Barrett’s nomination for that party. Dane County Democrats can vote for Republican Mark Neumann.

I don’t know if anyone has properly defined the importance to the Wisconsin Democratic Party of defeating Republican Scott Walker in the primary. Not only will WISGOP be humiliated for backing the losing primary candidate, but Reince Priebus, the Wisconsin chair, has hustled his way to the National GOP level in the last coupled of years. If Walker goes down Dems get to do a happy dance all across the nation. (Ahem, and something tells me they will be looking for a reason to be happy this election season.)

This dosey doe is but another reason I think Mark Neumann will be the Republican primary winner. Consider the Dane County scenario playing out across the state. When you realize primaries are usually well-informed political-type voters, the possibility of Democrats voting the Republican side of the primary ballot increases.

After all, I voted for Hillary Clinton. πŸ™‚


  1. Tee Hee. Sykes must troll your blog for ideas. He’s priming his Walker voters for the primary in Milwaukee. A bit of a strategic dilemma for them as YOU first pointed out.

  2. Aaron Rodriguez says:


    You have a lot to learn.

  3. Aaron, thanks for that. You actually made me laugh out loud!

  4. Aaron Rodriguez says:

    Cross-over voters represent a very small margin.

  5. Well imagine that. Aren’t we fortunate to have such a great authority on voting behavior right here among us!

    First, I’d really love a source.

    Next, it’s going to be close. It might be enough. Especially if the idea catches on. πŸ™‚

  6. Aaron Rodriguez says:


    I know you would love it to catch on, but it won’t. I appreciate the fact that you like the concept of an underdog, but it’s unlikely to happen. I don’t think any political pundit worth his salt thinks Neumann has a chance of winning the primary.

    You have to wonder why the Walker campaign hasn’t run a single commercial against Neumann. Perhaps they know something you don’t. Just a thought.

  7. Aaron. Do you know how many “I” sentences you have in that post?


  8. I’d have to think they are both running internals.

    Why has Walker ignored Neumann? Arrogance? Incompetence? Clairvoyance? And why did he abandon the Brown Bag campaign he spent so much to buy?

    We’ll find out the 14th. If Neumann loses, I’m sure you’ll waste no time rubbing my nose in it. You’re just that kind of guy. I’m a big girl. I’ll live.

  9. Aaron Rodriguez says:


    Don’t be petty.

  10. Good grief you are odd Aaron. Can you be weird someplace else, please?

  11. So if Neumann wins, you’ll vote for Walker, right?

  12. No, if Neumann wins, I’ll vote for Neumann. πŸ˜‰

    But to your probable point, yes, I’ve said before I’ll vote the GOP pick.

  13. Let’s not forget there’s a hotly contested Lt. Governor race on the Democratic side, and coupled with the contested races in Milwaukee County, I just don’t see any significant number of Democrats crossing over to vote in the GOP primary simply to sabotage things.

  14. There’s a hotly contested lt gov race on the Dem side? I guess it’s so hotly contested I’ve not heard of it.

  15. Well, it is the Lt. Governor race, so it’s not like it’s a huge deal, but it is hotly contested.

  16. Well, the Dems convince me. I’m voting for Walker, Johnson and Kleefisch.


  17. And in fact, it looks like the idea is catching on. I’ve read it three or four times now.

    I had someone e-mail me that an internal poll shows Mark Neumann at +6 over Scott Walker. That would certainly explain the remarkable politicking we’ve seen the last week from the Walker campaign.

    I wouldn’t bet the poll accurately reflecting the vote, though. I think this primary is going to be a mess.

  18. There is another reason Dems are going to vote Neumann. They actually would prefer to have Neumann be governor over Walker, if Barrett were to lose. A reminder, voting is about what you think is best, not about political gamesmanship. I think those engrossed in the competition of this race forget that a great many voters vote with their gut, and really do make their own choice in the voting booth.

    Maybe that is what the Rasmussen poll is showing if you study the internals, and that is why there is such a campaign to tell GOP voters they are falling prey to the manipulations of the Dem machine. I DO think their rants are a response to your panky theorizing, Cindy. They followed your post with their own convoluted logic of voter behavior. Belling and Sykes conspiracy plots ARE entertaining, though.

    The Democrats I know who are voting for Neumann next week simply think Walker is incompetent and bad for the state. I agree with them on that.

  19. RL – given the Republican race is a statistical dead heat (isn’t a new poll due soon?), I don’t think Democrats will crossover to vote for a candidate (Neumann) that is trending positively in his ability to beat Barrett head to head. If Walker continues to implode, it makes it even less likely. Plus local races may make it a compelling reason to vote along party lines. There is a Democratic Lt Gov race that I don’t think supporters would abandon. And in Milwaukee County, many left leaning voters want desperately to get Sheriff Clarke out of office. There will be some crossovers, but I’m betting a small fraction.

  20. I am absolutely not an expert in predicting voter turnout or outcome, BDad. I have talked to several people that live outside of Milwaukee and are Barrett supporters who cannot stomach the thought of Walker as guv, so they are voting for Neumann, as back-up.

    There is a considerable anti-Walker sentiment outside of your area. He doesn’t come across as a good leadership example to many.

    I am really curious about the statistical dead heat aspect. I would love to know if the most recent Rassmussen that had Neumann pulling ahead of Walker against Barrett and also had the internals showing a strong Neumann surge, was strongly skewed to Milwaukee voters.

    If that is the case, then Walker’s route to victory has detoured. His (and Bellings, I now know after listening to his podcast) theory for winning relies on getting 60% of the Milwaukee vote, statistically. IF the last poll showed a downward trend for Walker in MC, his home-base and where he was hoping to pull in votes, he is toast.

    Additionally, if there is a strong race on the Dem side, that will work against Walker, because he won’t pull the Dem vote that he was needing to get the crossover votes he typically has gotten in MC Executive elections. ( CE is supposed to be a non-partisan position.)

    So I don’t see how the numbers work in Walker’s favor, in the Milwaukee area, a key part of his ‘winning’ strategy.

    If Dems cross over and vote for Neumann it hurts Walker; if they stay on their side of the ticket and vote for their Lt. Gov. guy, Walker is not getting the votes he was needing from his MC precincts.

    Neumann’s winning strategy has never counted on numbers in Milwaukee in and Madison. Those votes are just gravy for him. And I happen to think he could pick up a few votes in Milwaukee on the education platform, the successfully run inner-city schools he started, and voters who don’t care about party affiliations and want to get rid of the status quo. Walker is totally status quo.

    Neumann could pick up Madison indies and surprise a few professional pundits. Never know. But his strategy has always been to get the voters outside of those 2 urban centers, and my guess is he still leads Walker by a nice margin ‘out-state’.

  21. Couple of thoughts on your crossover points.

    If as many suspect Neumann is surging, let’s assume he’s the presumptive winner. If you are a Barrett supporter, who can’t stomach Walker as governor, who would you vote for? Walker – which if trends are correct would have less of a chance of knocking off Barrett, or Neumann – who may have more of a chance to win the governor’s seat over you candidate. I would say a dyed in the wool Dem votes for Walker if he’s going to crossover, they won’t shoot off their nose to spite their face. Why vote for the candidate that could send Barrett packing?

    And, when it comes to crossovers and Walker winning the CE position, those really didn’t happen during primaries (he’s had no real challenge there), they happened during the general election. Crossing over during that election is a whole different story.

  22. BDad. I don’t think I’m explaining the motivation well enough for you to understand, or you are such a strategy-wonk you can’t understand my take on it.

    I’ll give it a go. The people I am talking about are not immersed in strategy; they are sincerely Freaked Out about our state’s leadership under Walker. As Dems, they don’t think their guy will lose in the general, so they don’t put that into play so much. But they do consider that the default option IF their guy loses, then the winner is Neumann and he is the much better candidate to run Wisconsin than Walker.

    Essentially, I see it as a ranking vote for them. 1,2,3 = B,N,W. They definitely want their 1 or 2 to win, never number 3.

    Seems to me in one of the podcasts I listened to last night/ Sykes or Belling — they were going through the reason Walker was the candidate of choice because he could pull crossover votes. Not sure if I followed the thinking all that well, but I perceived that Walker had pulled votes from across the spectrum. If he hasn’t that blows another hole in the S/B theories they are spouting.

    Frankly, I think the whole party thing is null and void in this election. All bets are off. It is more about cleaning house with incumbents and typical politicians than which party you identify with…I am not a registered anything and likely never will be. There is more of that attitude than you realize, I think, in play.

    Won’t matter that Walker can’t, won’t take MC against a Dem. I don’t think he’s going to pull this one off.

  23. Yeah, I guess I am too black and white. If I were a Barrett supporter, I’d vote for Walker, feeling confident Barrett would beat him. I’d be more worried that if I ushered Neumann through the primary, he’s got a better chance of beating Barrett.

  24. On the flip side, if I were a Barrett supporter I might vote Neumann because he has less baggage and I could tolerate him better if he won.

    Who knows why people vote the way they do. The important thing is that they vote. I think the primary should have a better percentage appearing than usual.

  25. True… I just struggle with voting for someone who could beat your candidate. If it were the other way around, no way I’d vote for the stronger Democratic candidate, for fear my GOP candidate may lose the general election to that candidate. I’d vote for the Dem I think can’t win the general election.

  26. Bdad. You are such a boy. πŸ™‚ Former or current athlete?

  27. Then put it all to rest and vote for the candidate you like best.

  28. Great advice, Cindy!

  29. Athlete wannabe πŸ™‚

  30. (As I type the word ‘BADGER’ in my anti-spam window and my mind jumps to football), I called it! Knew it. πŸ™‚ Join the ranks of nearly every male I know. You are not perchance an engineer or teacher of some sort, coach? hahah. I’m going for two in a row.

  31. Engineer by degree only, not practicing. Former adjunct professor, would love to get back into it. I’ll give you 2.5 in a row.

  32. Good grief, RL. This mystery man called Bdad has been hanging around here for YEARS and you get him to spill his guts like that? I’m not worthy. Dang. I think I’ll give you the blog when I make my next exit.

  33. First, can’t resist BDad: Ding! Ding! Ding! I am going to enjoy a brief gloat.

    Cindy: DO NOT DEPART! It should be quite obvious by now I am no kind of expert in politics, just an observer and A Woman With An Opinion.

    Back to BDad, (I will share with you every time I type that I get a visual image of PDiddy for some reason. Do not tell me you are a rapper wannabe also.:)) I’m thinking, given your desire to get back to your professorial status, you’d best lock and load on voting for Mr. Neumann. His research centers affiliated with higher ed may be a viable venue for reentry.

    Full disclosure. I am married to an athlete, teacher, coach. I have worked in higher ed and at A/E firms with gaggles of engineers and architects. Some of them are even my good buds. I’ve got your M.O. BDad.

  34. I figured that’s why you had the personality so figured out, RL.

    I’ve only promised to stay through November, so best get your fill.

  35. πŸ™‚

    No rap here! I am however now on the Neumann side of the fence.

  36. Whew, Bdad. You really made me work for that, but I’m giving RL the credit.

  37. Yeah!, BDad! If I were capable, I’d write a rap in your honor. Good decision.

  38. I will not be voting in the GOP primary. I considered it, I will admit. But after thinking about it, morally it wouldn’t be right.

    I blogged about it in fact. http://bit.ly/deeTe9

    Shameless plug, I know. Much easier than typing in the entire blog, though. πŸ™‚

  39. Shameless plug combined with a cop out!

    Surely someone will give you cigarettes in exchange for your vote.

  40. Now what would I do with those, Cindy? Can’t smoke them anywhere! πŸ™‚

    See, we liberals can have a sense of humor sometimes.