A look at 4/6

The Events list is pretty short this week, so forgive me if I indulge in a longish analysis of our last elections with an eye toward turning Wisconsin a brighter shade of blue.

But before we get to that matter, I want to call your attention to an upcoming event and an great opportunity to engage in the important issue advocacy work we are doing this year in preparation for the big elections coming up next year.

On May 2, from 7-8:15pm, Grassroots North Shore is sponsoring a nonpartisan event about how the electoral maps that were drawn in 2011 have cemented one-party control of the legislature for the past 10 years — even when the other party's candidates, in the aggregate, got more votes. The event on gerrymandering — Mopping Up Wisconsin's Map Mess — features Representative Deb Andraca, Statewide Organizer for the Fair Maps Coalition Carlene Bechen, and Attorney Mel Barnes from Law Forward. The program will be moderated by our own Deb Patel and is being co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County and by the Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition.

On the issue advocacy front we have several opportunities in front of us. What we want to do right now is have people WRITE. So join our Writers' Club. Write letters to the editor of local and state news outlets. Identify your assembly representative and state senator in Madison and then write to them. Write to your representative in Washington, DC. Write to your senators in Washington, DC. Write, right?

Now to the elections. One of the recurring issues all advocacy organizations face is measuring their effectiveness. And Grassroots North Shore is no different. As a proxy for our postcard project's effectiveness in the 7 communities of the North Shore in Milwaukee County, we've turned to the "unofficial vote totals" available at the Milwaukee County Clerk's office. The ward-by-ward outcomes show that Underly won in a landslide in every North Shore ward except one (River Hills, Ward 2, where a total of 160 votes were cast and where Kerr won about 56% of them). In the aggregate of these communities, Underly won 71% of the vote! She even won big in Brown Deer: 57% to 43%.

We can't take all the credit, of course, and we don't yet have turnout numbers. But the results were just as strong for Katie Kegel, who won her race for Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Branch 3, 66% to 34%. And she carried every North Shore ward, including the River Hills ward that preferred Deb Kerr. The number of North Shore votes cast in this election was somewhat smaller than the number cast in the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction — 15,606 in the Superintendent race and 13,582 in the judicial race. But given how low-key the judicial race was, it seems reasonable to attribute at least some of Kegel's blowout win to the endorsement of Grassroots North Shore and to our outreach with postcards and phone calls to North Shore women.

Looking to the trends in the whole state, then, we can begin to see how the hard work we have all put in has played out. Daily Kos published an extensive analysis of the Superintendent race. It's long and detailed but well worth the time it takes you to absorb it. Past performance is not a perfect recipe for future outcomes, but the piece does provide us with some guidance about how to maximize our own efforts. Here's some key information from that article.

The post argues that Kerr's use of Republican talking points, especially about re-opening schools and Underly's support from teachers' unions. Dissing the unions and insisting that schools re-open during the pandemic turned out to be a big-time loser. But the article goes further in looking at the role of suburban counties in the 2020 presidential election.

It might be tempting to dismiss any tea leaves from this contest: It was a spring election in an off-year, turnout was relatively low, and both candidates were, technically, Democrats. But turnout was in fact up 30% compared to the last election for schools chief in 2017, and it would serve us well to look a little deeper into the nature of Underly’s 58-42 landslide win in a state that was one of the closest in the 2020 presidential election....

The continued GOP decline in suburbia proved critical in Wisconsin in 2020, turning what had been a narrow win for Donald Trump four years earlier to a narrow victory for Biden last November. Particularly informative are the three suburban counties that surround Milwaukee: the so-called “WOW” counties (Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington).

The corralation between the percent of the population with at least a bachelor's degree and the movement toward voting for Democrats is pretty strong. Comparing the vote percent for president in 2012 to the vote percent in 2020, the shift toward Democrats is clear in Ozaukee and Waukesha where the percent of the voting population with a bachelor's degree is much higher than the state average. (The percent of voters with higher education degrees is in the parentheses.) Here's what the comparison looks like:


There's a lot more to analyze about both elections but the key takeaway for me is that working to win the votes of people in both Milwaukee County and Ozaukee pays big dividends, even if we don't win outright in the redder areas. We just need to reduce the margins between GOP votes and Dem votes.


Tue Apr 20, 2021

Virtual Drinking Liberally MKE, 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Drinking Liberally MKE will get together on Zoom. More information.

Wed Apr 21, 2021

On the Issues: One-Click America, 12:15pm - 12:15pm

Alec MacGillis, the author of Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America, will discuss regional inequality, a new, tech-driven economy, and the consolidation of wealth on the nation’s coasts. Click on the words “Watch Now” on the following webpage starting any time after 12:15 pm on April 21 to view the program.

Badger Bounceback: Climate Change & Environment, 6pm - 6pm
Zoom / YouTube

Badger Bounceback will be a series of online programs for Wisconsinites to discuss and provide feedback on Gov. Evers' agenda with the goal of working together to help pass a bold, bipartisan budget that will help our state bounce back from COVID-19 to better than we were before this pandemic hit.This final session will cover topics such as investing in stewardship and making public lands more accessible, addressing lead poisoning prevention, keeping our water clean, addressing climate change and the climate crisis, and protecting our state’s natural resources. More information and Registration.

Info: Laughing Liberally MKE, 6:30pm - 8:30pm

Check for information on the latest Laughing Liberally offerings.

Info: Southwest Region Dems Meeting, 7pm - 7pm

Southwest Dems (Region 5) cover Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Hales Corners, Milwaukee (Southwest), West Allis, West Milwaukee. Check for information on when a meeting may be held. or contact [email protected].

Thu Apr 22, 2021

Mental Health Board Meeting, 9am - 9am

This is a teleconference meeting (see Agenda for details). Public Comment: none. More information.

ACLU Action: Child Care Tax Credit, 7pm - 7pm

The ACLU recently launched its Systemic Equality agenda, a multi-year racial justice agenda seeking to address America's legacy of racism and systemic discrimination. This session of the Systemic Equality Action Series will discuss a child care tax credit. RSVP. More information.

Sat Apr 24, 2021

Community Brainstorming, 8am - 11am

Community Brainstorming Conference might have a virtual meeting. Check for more information.

Stand for Peace, 12pm - 1pm
Capitol Drive & Oakland Avenue, Shorewood

Stand for Peace is resuming in-person events with masks and social distancing. Check for more information. Organized by Peace Action Wisconsin.

Wed Apr 28, 2021

Virtual: Community Justice Council, 9:30am - 11am

Milwaukee Community Justice Council Meeting of the Whole will have an Online/Virtual meeting. More information.

Drinking Liberally Port Washington, 6:30pm - 8pm
Schooner Pub, 114 N Franklin St, Port Washington


Info: Drinking Liberally Glendale, 6:30pm - 9pm

Check whether the event will take place.

Sat May 1, 2021

Stand for Peace, 12pm - 1pm
6th Street & Mitchell Street, Milwaukee

Stand for Peace is resuming in-person events with masks and social distancing. Check for more information. This event will celebrate May Day with Voces de la Frontera. Organized by Peace Action Wisconsin.

Sun May 2, 2021

Grassroots North Shore presents "Mopping Up Wisconsin's Map Mess," 7pm - 8:15pm

When Wisconsin redrew legislative district maps 10 years ago, we ended up with a splotchy, dirty mess that left a big stain on our democracy. The maps as they are now hurt all, no matter our political views. So now we have work to do. We MUST clean up this mess. We deserve maps with districts that fairly and equitably represent the people of Wisconsin. Attend and learn how YOU can help. RSVP.

Mon May 3, 2021

Virtual Drinking Liberally Waukesha, 6:30pm - 6:30pm

Drinking Liberally Waukesha may be held virtually with Zoom. Check for updates.

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