That Swing State Life

You Minnesotans have it easy. You’re blue, solidly and dependably blue, at least according to the last ten presidential elections. Granted, this obviously doesn’t apply to each and every individual, but it’s a statistical generality that I have to think has to be nice. I mean, even if you’re on the wrong side, you at least know what’s going to happen.

I’m from Wisconsin. And Wisconsin is a swing state.

If you’ve somehow avoided this term thus far and haven’t heard of it before, here’s the low-down: Swing states are states that are uncertain as to which way they lean politically, and thus could be won by either major party candidate. Iowa and Florida are probably the most notable swing states.

In the last ten elections, Wisconsin only went blue seven times compared to Minnesota. That being said, they had a seven election run of blue until the 2016 election. However, while Wisconsin went blue in the 2012 presidential election, we had also elected a Republican governor in 2010. Paul Ryan, the current Republican Speaker of the House, has represented Wisconsin in the senate since 1998.

So what does this mean? It means I got way more political ads than other states. We also got more candidate visitations. I personally got to see Bernie Sanders in Milwaukee, who hired 3OH!3 (of Don’t Trust Me fame) to act as preshow entertainment. My guess is that he was trying to connect with the youngins.

The political tone also changes depending on where you are. Milwaukee and Madison (much to Walker’s disgruntlement I’m sure) is liberal territory. Meanwhile, small town Wisconsin, especially up north, are pretty solidly conservative (exempting the very tip of the state). You also get really fun events like the 2012 recall.

Most people don’t understand how big of a deal this governor recall vote was. For starters, Wisconsin is only the third state in American history to go through this process (the first being North Dakota in 1921 and the other California in 2003). Wisconsin was the only of these three to fail. Now, long story short, Wisconsinites got riled up by Walker decimated union rights, to put it very simply. The largest group impacted were teachers. And I happen to come from a family of teachers.

There were protests for days when Walker announced this plan. My Madison suburb town missed at least one day of school due to a complete lack of teachers, while Madison itself, where my mom taught, was out of school for almost a week. My mom was in a wheelchair post ankle surgery and we still went and protested.

Wisconsin is not a place you can safely assume someone’s political identity, unless perhaps you’re in the heart of Madison, shouting at Scott Walker or living in the backwoods of nowhere with a giant—now six years old—”I Stand With Scott Walker” sign in their front yard. No one is the clear political minority. Nothing is totally certain.

Afterall, we were expected to go blue in 2016 and look how that turned out.