3 ways Wisconsin politics changed for the better in 2023

Credit: NPR

By Christina Lorey

December 7, 2023

Welcome to the holiday season! This time of year, we’re busy–buying gifts, tying up loose ends, and reflecting on the year that was while anticipating the new one ahead.

Here’s a look back at three of the best political headlines to come out of Wisconsin in 2023:

Janet Protasiewicz wins “the most important election of 2023” decisively. 

Her addition to the Wisconsin state Supreme Court flipped the court’s ideological majority–giving liberals the upper hand on a court that could decide everything from fair legislative maps to abortion access and election integrity. Protasiewicz ended up winning more than 55% of the vote and not just in progressive strongholds like Madison and Milwaukee, but in many smaller cities and rural counties. 

Young voters realize the impact they have and make it happen… again. 

Wisconsin’s 18-24 year-olds set the bar for national young voter turnout in the 2022 midterms, and in April 2023, they raised it even higher. Wisconsin Democrats significantly improved their performance on college campuses in the state Supreme Court election. For example, while Gov. Tony Evers won 56% of UW-La Crosse students’ votes in November 2022, Protasiewicz won 75%. And those numbers were replicated at campuses across the state.

State Republicans and Democrats finally some find common ground. 

The bipartisanship happening in Washington is trickling down to Wisconsin. After President Biden made headlines for racking up more bipartisan victories than any president of either party in a generation, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and legislative Republicans forged better relationships to put some of the state’s $6.9 billion surplus to use

What’s Next? 

The 2024 US presidential election is set for Tuesday November 5, and for the third cycle in a row, Wisconsin voters could decide the outcome. Specifically, suburban voters.

As cities become bluer and country towns become redder, the most contested turf can be found in the suburbs. Most of these communities have been trending towards Democrats since the Trump era, but that’s far from a sure thing this November.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel used 30 years of suburban voting data to determine the following:

  • 30% of Wisconsin voters live in the “core suburbs.”
  • The Madison suburbs have gone from 10 points bluer than the rest of the state to 40 points bluer.
  • Washington County’s suburbs have gone in the opposite direction–from about 25 points redder than the state as a whole to 40 points redder.
  • A majority of Wisconsin suburbs have moved in the same direction since 2014–away from the Republican party. Click here to see how much and why.

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Author

  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

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