As the 2020 election nears, Wisconsinites can expect to be bombarded with plenty of political ads. It is, in one Republican campaign manager’s words, “a tipping point state.”
Brian Reisinger, vice president of Platform Communications, delivered that message at the Aug. 1 Waunakee Rotary meeting and explained why. Reisinger began his career as a journalist, and his “first job off of the farm” was as an intern at the Waunakee Tribune in 2004 working with now editor Roberta Baumann and former publisher Art Drake.
It was the first time Reisinger had seen the political process in action, he said, adding that today, Wisconsin is a very different state. After 10 years as a journalist, Reisinger got into politics and worked for Ron Johnson during his 2016 campaign and Scott Walker. He’s seen ups and downs for Democrats and Republicans, but said this election is an opportunity for Wisconsin in terms of the prominence it will have in 2020.
Some of the pundits have made statements like, “Wisconsin is the new Ohio,” which was once the No. 1 swing state, and “all paths go through Wisconsin.”
It’s a state that voted for Obama twice and then for Donald Trump, who won by only one point.
Then in 2018, Gov. Tony Evers won by just 30,000 votes. In April 2019, Supreme Court Justice Brian Hagedorn won by 1 point, and the election outcome could have been swayed by just 6,000 votes in any part of the state.
When the Wisconsin votes were in, Trump knew he would win the 2016 election, Reisinger added.
Republicans showed it’s possible to get elected in a Democratic state, he said.
Democrats, too, clearly recognize that Wisconsin is the battleground state.
“It was a big, big surprise that Republicans won, not only Trump but Johnson,” Reisinger said.
In 2016, it was pretty clear that an anti-Washington, anti-status quo attitude prevailed, and that helped Johnson.
It’s recognized that Democrats in the state vote in numbers. They were able to turn out just 15,000 votes shy of a presidential year turnout in 2018.
The close margins mean that, really, every vote is crucial, especially when a candidate loses by just 6,000 votes. Just a couple thousand votes can make a difference.
“Any one of us can have a huge impact in the direction of our country,” Reisinger said.
The saying is now, “Whichever way Wisconsin goes will likely be the way the country goes,” he added.
In the 2020 election, if Democrats win every state they’re supposed to, they will still need Wisconsin to win the election.
That means Wisconsin residents will see their share of political ads and door knocks as the 2020 elections near.