Rebuilding the Blue Wall: Biden Is Now Wisconsin’s Apparent Winner

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks at a drive-in election night event at the Chase Center in the early morning hours of November 04, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.



By Pat Kreitlow, Jonathon Sadowski

November 4, 2020

Former Vice President makes inroads into suburban Milwaukee, builds on strength in Dane County. Other parts go deeper for Trump.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has apparently clinched Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes, maintaining a lead that could propel him to the White House and send President Donald Trump to a most uncertain future.

In results reported by Reuters as of 2 p.m., Biden had earned 1,630,389 Wisconsin votes (49.4%) while Trump had garnered 1,609,879 votes (48.8%).

Even after the projection, made by several media organizations and consortiums, neither Biden nor Trump have yet cleared the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House, and the margins remain tight in several other fiercely contested states. 

It was not unexpected for Biden to outperform 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton’s performance in Wisconsin, given the drop off in Democratic turnout four years ago, but few could have predicted how much stronger his performance would end up being in the Milwaukee suburbs that were once a much deeper shade of Republican red.

The absence of multiple or credible third-party candidates, who in 2016 collectively siphoned off about 5% of the state’s vote, appears to have played a part in Biden’s success. This year, only Libertarian Jo Jorgensen captured a statistically significant share of the vote—1.2% statewide. 

Biden benefitted from Milwaukee and Madison having even higher Democratic turnout than usual, and a historic Democratic performance in the Republican stronghold “WOW” counties—Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington—likely helped along by the absence of a strong third-party candidate. 

Biden outperformed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 vote share in Dane County, reaching 75.5% support among voters there compared with Clinton’s 71.4%. 

In Milwaukee County, Biden took 69.1% of the vote, a 2.7% increase over Clinton.

In Ozaukee County, the former vice president garnered 43.1% of the vote; in Waukesha, 38.8%; and in Washington 30.2%. Those results represent a 6-point, 5-point, and 3-point growth from Clinton’s support in 2016.

Meanwhile, Trump gained ground compared with 2016 in much of the state’s rural areas, and the swingy Kenosha County, which he campaigned in on Monday. 

From Chippewa County to Florence County, the president made small but significant gains of anywhere from 1 to 3 points. That pattern was remarkably consistent across many central and northern counties.

In Kenosha County, the state’s closest county in 2016, Trump increased his margin of victory tenfold from 238 votes to 2,781.

Biden managed to flip just two counties that Trump won in 2016—Door and Sauk counties. However, that appeared to be because of the absence of third-party candidates; Trump outperformed himself in Sauk County this time around and lost less than 1% in Door County, while Biden saw gains of 3.1% and 4.3% in those counties.

The Trump campaign has already said it will seek a recount.


  • Pat Kreitlow

    The Founding Editor of UpNorthNews, Pat was a familiar presence on radio and TV stations in western Wisconsin before serving in the state Legislature. After a brief stint living in the Caribbean, Pat and wife returned to Chippewa Falls to be closer to their growing group of grandchildren. He now serves as UNN's chief political correspondent and host of UpNorthNews Radio, airing weekday mornings 6 a.m.-8 a.m on the Civic Media radio network and the UpNorthNews Facebook page.

  • Jonathon Sadowski


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