The Reason Republicans Lost in Wisconsin

Op-Ed: A midterm elections threat assessment — high and getting higher

A few weeks ago, you might have dismissed the idea of Republican voters in Wisconsin not voting in their midterms as pure hysteria — and rightly so. Now you should know better.

The reason Republicans lost in Wisconsin is not because they were outspent by Democrats in the last election, or that they were out-fundraised by Democrats.

In fact, it is very difficult to outspend one’s opponent in a competitive, closely-held state. In Wisconsin, where the last election was decided by less than a percentage point, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Johnson’s campaign alone raised less than $1 million in the entire 2016 election cycle.

The issue is that Johnson’s Republican primary opponent, the current Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin, Mandela Barnes, had amassed a substantial lead over him. The Democrats’ advantage in voter turnout was a factor, but it did not change the outcome.

What changed was a decision by the current Wisconsin Secretary of State who had served under Republican Gov. Scott Walker, Democrat Tom Barrett, to stay neutral in the race.

Then, in late April, Republican Secretary of State Jim Brunson, who had previously served under Republican Gov. Jim Doyle, decided to take the gloves off.

He made the decision to go on the air with a robocall warning the Wisconsin electorate that the current Republican Secretary of State, Jim Brunson, who would be replacing Barrett in the governor’s office should Barrett win, was on his way and that he was not a Republican and should be replaced. Brunson went on the air with this robocall, which received over 70,000 votes.

Brunson has said that he was motivated to do this because of “the current chaos that has engulfed office after office in Republican Wisconsin.”

The irony of Brunson’s robocall is that Wisconsin Republicans who might be persuaded to vote for Barrett could instead vote for Johnson and Barnes, and thus ensure that Walker remains governor.

The impact of Brunson’s robocall caused Walker’s approval rating to drop from 65% to 53%, where it is now.

Wisconsin’s Republican Secretary of State, Jim Brunson, has been busy in recent months, warning voters that

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