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The Capitol Report

GOP would have advantage even under Evers’ maps

Democrats have long decried the maps Republicans drew in 2011 as a partisan gerrymander, noting Republicans won a disproportionate share of legislative seats compared to their performance in statewide contests

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Republicans in Wisconsin would still have an advantage under drafts of Assembly and Senate district lines created for Gov. Tony Evers’ People’s Maps Commission, according to a review of the proposals.

But the partisan edge for Republicans wouldn’t be as big as it is under the current maps. Evers, for example, would’ve won more Assembly and Senate seats under all of the drafts released yesterday than he did in 2018 as he beat then-Gov. Scott Walker by 1.1 percentage points statewide.

Tufts University Math Professor Moon Duchin, who did a presentation on the drafts for the commission, said all of the proposed maps give some lean toward Republicans. That’s because Republicans have a geographic advantage with GOP voters more spread out across the state compared to Democrats, who are more concentrated in metropolitan areas.

Duchin runs the MGGG Redistricting Lab at Tufts’ Tisch College.

“All of these maps have a little bit more of a lean towards Republicans,” she said. “And this is due to the well-known fact that if you draw districts against the real political geography of most any American state, districts tend to confer a geographic advantage to Republicans, who at this time in U.S. history are a bit more spread out across rural areas while Democrats are a bit more concentrated.”

The People’s Map Commission in late September released three drafts each for the Assembly, Senate and House seats. The commission will now gather public comment on the options before settling on a final map that will be submitted to the state Legislature.

Under the three draft Assembly maps, Walker would’ve won at least 55, 56 and 58 of the 99 Assembly seats if the lines had been in place during the 2018 election.

A review of the 2018 gubernatorial results shows Walker won 63 Assembly districts under the current maps.

For the draft Senate maps, Walker would’ve won a majority of the two-way vote in 17, 19 and 20 seats, according to numbers released yesterday. He won 21 Senate districts in 2018, according to the review.

Democrats have long decried the maps Republicans drew in 2011 as a partisan gerrymander, noting Republicans won a disproportionate share of legislative seats compared to their performance in statewide contests. When Evers announced the People’s Maps Commission, he said it would be charged with drawing “fair, impartial maps.”

The drafts underscore the challenge of drawing a true 50-50 map in either chamber of the Legislature because of the concentration of Democratic voters in urban areas, particularly Madison and Milwaukee.

The commission’s drafts for the state’s congressional seats included one version in which Evers and Walker each would’ve won four of the House seats. Under the current lines, Walker won five of the eight seats.

The 4-4 map included one seat that Evers would’ve won with less than 51% of the vote.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest changes on that map to the current lines:

• 1st Congressional District: Putting all of Rock, Walworth, Kenosha and Racine counties in the 1st CD while pulling in southern Milwaukee suburbs such as Oak Creek and Cudahy. The district, represented by Republican Bryan Steil, now splits Rock County with the 2nd CD while grabbing the southern half of heavily Republican Waukesha County.

• 2nd Congressional District: Putting Dane County, Jefferson and Dodge counties into the 2nd CD. The district now includes heavily Democratic Dane with the areas south and west of the state’s second-largest county.

• 3rd Congressional District: Putting Columbia, Sauk, Iowa, Lafayette and Green counties in western Wisconsin’s 3rd CD while shedding communities such as Stevens Point in Portage County and portions of Adams, Wood and Juneau counties. The district now includes the counties that run along the Mississippi River and then have a portion that runs through the central part of the state to Portage County.

• 6th Congressional District: The 6th CD, now a strongly Republican seat, would become a swing district. Had those lines been in place in 2018, Walker would’ve won 50.3% of the two-party vote there. It would include Fox Valley communities such as Fond du Lac, Oshkosh and Appleton and then move west to pick up Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids.

• Other Districts: Under that draft, the heavily Democratic 4th CD would remain largely the city of Milwaukee, while the 8th would include the area along Lake Michigan that’s now part of the 6th CD, while also retaining Green Bay. The 7th CD would continue to be much of northern Wisconsin.

In one of the 5-3 GOP maps, Walker would’ve won two seats with less than 51% of the two-party vote.

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The Capitol Report is written by editorial staff at, a nonpartisan, Madison-based news service that specializes in coverage of government and politics, and is distributed for publication by members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

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