Political ponderings

Breaking down Wisconsin’s midterm election results


Polls in Wisconsin closed Tuesday night and the results of the midterm election reveal a divided state.

Wisconsin votes four more years of Evers, six more years of Johnson.

Democratic Governor Tony Evers won re-election against Republican challenger Tim Michels. Evers, a former public school teacher, campaigned on a platform of education improvement, supporting abortion rights and improvement to the state’s infrastructure. 

Evers attacked Michels’ views as extreme and right-wing including his support of Wisconsin’s abortion ban, his denial of 2022 election results and his plan to create a private school voucher program. Michels was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

In the race for Senate, Republican Senator Ron Johnson was elected to a third term, beating Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes. Johnson ran on a platform of supporting the nation’s economy and lowering inflation. 

Johnson attacked Barnes and other Democrats’ government spending, which he said is causing inflation and raising costs. Johnson said he would continue to vote against spending. 

Evers and Johnson won their state-wide elections, implying many voters split their ticket and supported both the Democratic governor and the Republican senator.

Democrats and Republicans split the other statewide races with Democrat Josh Kaul elected as attorney general and Republican John Lieber elected state treasurer. Democrat Doug La Follette leads the race for secretary of state by less than 0.5% of votes. That race has not yet been called according to the Associated Press.

Van Orden flips House seat in Wisconsin’s 3rd District.

Republican Derrick Van Orden beat Democrat Brad Pfaff in Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional district. The seat was previously held by Democrat Ron Kind since 1997, who is retiring at the end of this term.

Van Orden is a retired Navy Seal and campaigned on rebuilding the economy and supporting police and the military. Van Orden labeled Pfaff a career politician and attacked his support of President Joe Biden.

Pfaff was critical of Van Orden’s support for banning abortion access and his attendance outside the Capitol building during the Jan. 6 attack.

Republicans gain seats in the state legislature but fall short of a supermajority

In his first term as governor, Tony Evers vetoed nearly 150 bills passed by the Republican lead state legislature and, while Republicans made gains, they will not hold the two-thirds of seats needed to overrule the governor’s veto power. 

Republicans flipped three seats in the state assembly and one in the state senate, falling two assembly seats short of a supermajority

In districts representing the Eau Claire area, Democratic incumbents won re-election. Assembly representative Jodi Emerson beat Republican challenger Josh Stanley with 65% of the vote. State Senator Jeff Smith narrowly defeated Republican Dave Estenson by less than 600 votes.

Republicans will maintain strong majorities in both chambers of the state legislature and with Evers winning reelection, Wisconsin will have a divided government. 

Local and state-level election results are available in the previous issue of Political ponderings. Next week will break down results from around the country and the implications for the next few years.

Mohr can be reached at [email protected].