FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2022
Wisconsin's wasted votes: Just how large was the turnout for this year's elections?
As you may have heard, the counting continues! At the Cook Report's House Vote Tracker, here's the current tabulation of votes for the two major parties in the 435 House races:
Current tabulation, 2022 House races
Democratic candidates: 45.8 million votes
Republican candidates: 51.4 million votes
To our surprise, Republican candidates have received about twelve percent more votes among votes which have already been tabulated.
That said, there are many votes yet to be counted. We'll be watching those numbers grow.
At the Cook link, you can check the vote totals for all 435 House races. Noodling around, we've spotted at least eighteen districts, including six in Texas alone, where there were zero Democratic votes because there was no Democratic candidate on the ballot this year.
We don't know if that's a typical phenomenon. Two of those districts are in Wisconsin, a state which teaches a bit of a master class on the topic of "wasted votes."
As a general matter, Wisconsin has come to be pretty much a 50/50 state. In this week's election, its voters re-elected their Democratic governor (Tony Evers) and their Republican senator ("dumbest known human" Ron Johnson)
That said, the state's eight House districts have split 6-2 in favor of the GOP. That's largely because of all the "wasted votes" in those two Democratic districts.
We start with Wisconsin 4 (basically, Milwaukee), where Gwen Moore won re-election with 75.4% of the vote. From there, we journey to Wisconsin 2 (basically, Madison), where Mark Pocan won 71.0% of the vote.
That's a lot of wasted votes! But are they the product of gerrymandering, or are they the product of demographic concentrations in those two parts of the state?
We'd have to say that those House districts look to be reasonably compact, at least as these things tend to go. They don't have the look of lunatic gerrymandering, though we'll guess that you could easily redraw the lines so that District 2 would remain safely blue and next-door neighbor District 3 might turn blue too.
Is District 4 possibly gerrymandered a bit, with the intention of wasting Democratic votes? It looks to us like that might be the case, but we don't know the lay of the land. To the south, it's bordered by District 1, where Republican Byran Steil hung on with 54.1 percent of the vote. Not a whole lot of wasted votes there!
As Freud first said, sometimes wasted votes are just wasted votes. Sometimes, wasted votes truly are the product of deliberate gerrymanders. But sometimes, wasted votes simply reflect concentrations of population—the places where birds of a feather live.
Blue voters live in Milwaukee and Madison. Could someone, most likely Governor Evers, possibly force them to move?
Full disclosure: We believe we met Charlie Cook long ago, we think at the D.C. Improv. In our experience, he's exactly the same way at the Improv that he seems to be everywhere else!