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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

 8:03 PM 

Western Wisconsin a focus for Dems in today's turnout battle

NOTE: A version of this story appeared in the June 1 WisPolitics REPORT for paying subscribers. Click here to learn more and take a free trial of the WisPolitics email service
Western Wisconsin was a problem for Dems two years ago.

Starting in northwestern Wisconsin's Burnett County and heading south along the St. Croix and the Mississippi rivers, Tom Barrett won only two of the 11 counties along that stretch.

Four years earlier, Jim Doyle won them all.

Add in the adjoining counties of Barron, Dunn, Jackson, Monroe and Richland, and that swath of western Wisconsin accounted for 14 of the 34 counties that Doyle won in 2006 before Scott Walker took them in 2010. Barrett won only 13 of 72 counties around the state, including Eau Claire, Trempealeau and Crawford in western Wisconsin.

Dems have made western Wisconsin a focus in trying to snap back from the washout there in 2010.

A test of that will be places like Eau Claire and La Crosse counties. Barack Obama rolled to big wins in both counties in 2008 and Doyle won them comfortably in 2006, but Walker took La Crosse County by just under 100 votes in 2010 and lost Eau Claire County by just 436 votes.

Other key counties to watch in western Wisconsin include Chippewa and St. Croix, two of the 34 that Walker won in 2010 after Doyle took them four years earlier.

Beyond western Wisconsin, consider these traditional marks that insiders will watch to see how things are going tonight:

-- Hitting 60 percent in Milwaukee County has long been a key benchmark for Dems to win statewide.

Barrett eclipsed that with 61.6 percent of the vote in 2010, but lost in part because of his drop-off in so many other areas and the GOP intensity.

-- Will Waukesha and Dane counties essentially cancel each other out? Or will one exceed its 2010 number?

Walker won Waukesha County by 81,924 votes in 2010, 31,083 better than Green's winning margin in 2006. That equaled 71.5 percent of the vote, and insiders will be watching to see if he can eclipse the 70 percent mark again.

Barrett won Dane County with 68 percent of the vote in 2010 and a margin of 81,461 votes. It was one of the few Dem counties that saw its 2010 turnout increase compared to 2006, and operatives will be watching to see if Dems can push that turnout closer to the 282,428 who turned out in 2008.

-- The GOP intensity in Ozaukee and Washington counties and the margins in the Fox Valley.

Walker took Washington County by almost 30,000 votes, compared to a margin of 18,043 for Green four years earlier. Add in Ozaukee and the 16,646-vote margin Walker had in that Milwaukee collar county.

Barrett will likely lose Brown, Outagamie and Fond du Lac counties. But the margin will be closely watched there.

-- Can Barrett recover in Eau Claire, La Crosse and Kenosha counties?

Doyle won all three counties by between 6,507 and 7,428 votes. In additional to winning La Crosse narrowly and losing Eau Claire by fewer than 500 votes, Walker won Kenosha County by 1,824 votes. If Barrett hopes to reverse the 2010 results, it would help immensely for all three to revert to their prior tendencies, Dems say.

-- By JR Ross

Click here for results directly from some of these key counties:

TOP COUNTIES TO WATCH
Click the county name for its unofficial results page

- Dane County
- Milwaukee County
- Ozaukee County
- Washington County
- Waukesha County

OTHER COUNTY RESULTS
Click the county name for its unofficial results page

- Brown County
- Chippewa County
- Eau Claire County
- La Crosse County
- Kenosha County
- Marathon County
- Outagamie County
- Racine County
- Winnebago County

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