Forget National Returns, Racine County Rocks the Free World
Don't wait up Tuesday night for the national returns for the presidential election. Look instead to how we vote right here in Racine County because for the last four elections, as our county goes, so goes the country.
Racine County voters, turns out, have their finger on the pulse of the entire country. For the last four elections—1996 through 2008—we've voted for the eventual President of the United States.
While the state has gone consistently Democratic since 1984, we're a little more flexible here.
"We seem to definitely sway more purple than anything else," said Bill Folk, chair of the Republican Party of Racine County. "For example, the same 60 percent that voted for Russ Feingold in 2006 also voted for Paul Ryan."
Jane Witt, chair of the county Democratic Party, though, thinks this year might be the break in the pattern.
"I won't be surprised if President Obama doesn't carry Racine County, but I still think he'll win," she said. "This year could be the year we break the pattern."
Witt said that while the Democrats' ground game is unparalleled, the Tea Party here seems unusually energized since the recall elections earlier this year.
"No one can beat our ground game, but conservatives, especially the Tea Party, are really energized," she said. "But I also think there's a divide in the county between east of I-94 and west of the expressway. That's where population could play a part."
In the race for the White House for the last four elections, here's how the county voted:
- 1996: Bill Clinton (38,567) over Bob Dole (30,105)
- 2000: George W. Bush (44,014) over Al Gore (41,563)
- 2004: George W. Bush (52,456) over John Kerry (48,229)
- 2008: Barack Obama (53,406) over John McCain (45,942)
Folk admits the election could go either way, but if the pattern continues, he's pulling for a red Racine.
"The president always gets the county's vote," he continued. "So if Racine County goes red, there's a good chance Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan win the election."