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Lake Superior Shoreline

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – Devils Island, Wisconsin
  • Counties: Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas, and Iron
  • 2019 Population: 79,435 (1.36%)
  • Average Vote from Region: 1.44%
  • October 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 1.45%
  • Race and Ethnicity: 88.47% White, 4.98% American Indian, 2.77% 2+, 2.04% Hispanic
  • Ancestry: 26.63% German, 11.00% Norwegian, 10.48% Irish, 9.33% Swedish, 8.13% Finnish, 8.13% Polish
  • Median Income: $46,137
  • Post-Secondary Degree Attainment: 36.0%

As evident in the name, all four counties in this region make up the Wisconsin portion of the Lake Superior shoreline. This is the least populated region in the state with the lowest population density at 17 people per square mile. That said, the City of Superior, the largest municipality in the region, is the thirtieth largest in the state at 25,977. In fact, almost one third of the of the entire population of this region resides in Superior. Superior and Duluth, Minnesota make up the Twin Ports urban area in the far western part of Lake Superior. These two cities and their respective counties make up Duluth Metropolitan Statistical Area. Economically, maritime and shipping ventures are critical here. The Twin Ports together were the nineteenth busiest port as of 2002 and that jumps up to number seven if account for just foreign exports. Lake Superior is also notorious for large waves during annual fall storms that feature twenty feet waves with some over thirty feet having been recorded. This has resulted in a history of shipwrecks in the lake including the immortalized SS Edmund Fitzgerald. There is also a tourist element here, particularly in Bayfield County which is the gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

In terms of the counties that make up this region, there are no other counties that would make sense to add here as there are no other Wisconsin counties that are on Lake Superior. As mentioned in the Eastern Northwoods, is some argument that could be made to include Iron county in that region. It would mean all counties that border the Upper Peninsula of Michigan would be in the same region and the major settlements in Iron County (Hurley and Montreal) are part of the buildup that includes Ironwood, Michigan. However, there are too many historical, demographic, and economic ties to the rest of the Lake Superior Shoreline region to make that switch.

One big connector is ancestry. Iron County and the rest of the Lake Superior Region is the most Scandinavian region in the state. It has the highest percentage of both Finnish and Swedish Americans in Wisconsin. When put together with Norwegian Americans, it is the only region in the state where Scandinavian Americans outnumber German Americans. The region is pretty white, but it does have the highest percentage of American Indians in the state at almost five percent. The median income is $8,473 lower than the state medium. Only the City of Milwaukee is lower. However, the percentage with a college degree is only 2.7% less than the state percentage.

  • PVI: D+7
  • Presidential Margins: Obama (08) +32% -> Obama (12) +28% -> Clinton +6%
  • 2018 Margins: Evers +18% | Baldwin +24%

Early in Wisconsin’s history this area of the state was pretty swingy, but probably leaned slightly to the Democrats until the late Nineteenth Century. Afterwards the region was pretty solidly Republican until the 1932 Presidential Election. It was at that point this region attached itself to the Democratic Party. Probably one of the best definitions of a New Deal Democratic region of the county that still exists to this day. At the statewide level during this period this region was loyal supporter of the Wisconsin Progressive Party from its founding in 1934 until the start of its decline in 1944. It then became a swing region until the 1958 Gubernatorial election of Gaylord Nelson. It has then voted pretty consistently for the Democratic nominee ever since. That’s not to say it won’t occasionally go to a Republican when there is a landslide. Even in those landslides the region leans to the left of the state. Barack Obama did really well here, getting some massive margins in his two elections.

That all said, it looks like something might have changed in 2016 as all four counties saw massive swings to Trump. This region was not tailor made for Trump like some of the other more recent regions, but there are a lot of components that did make it favorable to him. It’s a very white and rural area with an industrial economy and a lower median income. Trump’s performance here is the best since Nixon’s in 1972. That said, there was a definite snap back in 2018 to the Democratic nominees. While they do not get back to the massive Obama margins, they got back to a point where I can pretty confidently rate this safe Democratic for the upcoming election. It is also a region were the difference between Baldwin and Evers was not massive. Biden’s objective here would be to get a margin over 20% here, while Trump would love to prove that 2016 was not a fluke. Even keeping the margin below 15% would be a win for Trump.

Ashland County

Ore Dock – Ashland, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 15,562 (0.72%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.26%
  • October 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 9,502 (0.27% of the statewide totals)
  • PVI: D+9
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Clinton +12%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Evers +23%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Baldwin +32%
  • Municipalities: City of Ashland (7,843) Clinton +26%

Ashland County has a solid working-class history, featured prominently in the ore dock that was built in Ashland harbor by the Wisconsin Central Railway. Iron Ore mined in the area would be loaded on to ships headed to other industrial ports in the Great Lakes where steel would be produced. This ended in the late 1960s. The Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians Reservation is also located here in Ashland County on the south shore of Lake Superior. Even with Trump’s big swing here in 2016, Ashland County is still pretty Democratic. Biden’s goal would be to get the margin back up to the mid-twenties. The Town of Ashland in the central part of the county is where I would look at on election day. The margin here was close to the statewide margin in 2016, but both Evers and Baldwin won here by at least over twenty-four points. Biden will want to not only win here but get the margin over twenty-five points. Biden will be on his way to a winning Wisconsin big if he’s getting over seventy percent of the vote in the City of Ashland like Tammy Baldwin did. Trump’s goal here would be to just limit the snapback that will in all likelihood take place here. Keeping Biden’s winning margin under twenty points would be considered a win.

Bayfield County

Bayfield, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 15,036 (0.26%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.33%
  • October 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 11,592 (0.32% of the statewide totals)
  • PVI: D+7
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Clinton +9%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Evers +20%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Baldwin +26%
  • Municipalities: City of Washburn (2,036) Clinton +41%

Of all the counties in this region, Bayfield County is the most touristy of the bunch. The beauty of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore draws a lot of people to the cities of Bayfield and Washburn. That might be partially why this county had the smallest swing to Trump of the four counties in this region. Biden will still want to improve on Clinton’s margin here and even try to beat what Evers got. The place that I would keep my eye on when the results start to roll in next month is the Town of Oulu in the northwestern corner of the county. Trump got close to his statewide percentage here and the margins was close to matching the major 2018 elections. Biden will want to get a win in the Town of Oulu. If Biden is close to sweeping everything in thie county, like Tammy Baldwin was, he will be on pace for a large win. Trump’s goal would be to pick away a few more towns like Barksdale or Clover.

Douglas County

John A. Blatnik Bridge to Duluth, Minnesota – Superior, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 43,150 (0.74%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.73%
  • October 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 26,560 (0.74% of the statewide totals)
  • PVI: D+8
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Clinton +8%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Evers +21%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Baldwin +26%
  • Municipalities: City of Superior (25,977) Clinton +19%

Douglas County is the largest county in the Lake Superior Lakeshore region with 54% of the entire region’s population. The improvement that Trump was able to get here compared to Mitt Romney in 2012 was shocking. Trump did almost twenty-four points better! Based on the results from 2018, this is another county where I expect for there to be some significant bounce back for the Democratic nominee. Biden’s objective here will be to get over a twenty-five-point win here in Douglas County. The Town of Lakeside in the north central part of the county on Lake Superior is the sub-unit that I am going to be keying in on when votes start to come in. Trump won here by seven-points, but his percentage was close to his statewide percentage. Both major statewide Democrats won this town in 2018 and both margins were close to the statewide margin. Biden will want to win here. If Biden is winning some of the places that only Tammy Baldwin has recently won like the towns of Bennett or Gordon or the Village of Lake Nebagamon, he will win the state by an impressive margin. Again, like other counties in this region, Trump will want to just do his best to prevent the margin from getting out of hand. Keeping it to around fifteen points would be a about where Trump would want it.

Iron County

Plummer Mine Headframe – Pence, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 5,687 (0.10%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.12%
  • October 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 4,337 (0.12% of the statewide totals)
  • PVI: R+8
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +24%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +17%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +5%
  • Municipalities: City of Hurley (1,436) Trump +17%

As indicative in the name, Iron County was home to large deposits of iron. Half of the now inactive Gogebic Range is present in this county. The mining industry boomed here in the 1880s before it declined in the Great Depression and the last shipment of iron ore from the county left Ashland in 1967. There were some discussions of reopening mining in the region in the early 2010s, but there was massive push back due to health and environmental concerns. Eventually, it was deemed to be not profitable enough. At one point this was one of the most Democratic counties in the state, but since Obama’s thirteen-point win in 2008, this county has moved hard to the right. Romney barely won it in 2012 before it swung almost twenty-four points to Trump. Both major statewide Democrats lost here in 2018 as well. This is not an uncommon political trajectory for many other mining counties across the nation. When it comes to this year’s election, I would focus in on the Town of Anderson in western Iron County. The margin here has been very close to the statewide elections in recent elections. Biden will want to win the town. If Biden is winning either or both of the cities of Hurley and Montreal, he will be on pace to a double-digit statewide win. Trump’s goal here would be to sweep the state by winning the Town of Gurney, which was a tie in 2016, and push the margin here close to thirty-points.

2020 Wisconsin Presidential Election Prediction

We have finally made it to Election Day! This won’t be a long post, but I wanted to give my prediction to the Presidential race in the State of Wisconsin. I am predicting that when all the votes have been counted Joe Biden will have won the state by about a seven-point margin: Biden 53% – Trump 46% – Jorgenson 1%. Using 538’s polling average and rounding to the nearest whole number, they have it at Biden 52% and Trump 44%. Of the remaining 4%, I’m guessing that 50% of the undecideds will go to Trump, 25% to Biden, and 25% to Jorgenson.  

You might be asking, how I can be so confident in the polls that clearly missed what happened in 2016? For one, the pool of undecideds and third-party supporters is vastly smaller than what it was last time. In 2016, 13.1% of voters were in this group and they ended up breaking for Trump at a much higher rate than for Clinton. This year only 4.4% belong to that group. Another reason I feel better about the polling this year is Biden has hit 50% or better in numerous times here at the end of the cycle. it is actually more surprising when he doesn’t hit 50% in a poll for Wisconsin. Compare that to Clinton in 2016 where she only hit 50% once in a Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll from October 18-19 during the aftermath of the Access Hollywood tape. Finally, the quality of pollsters who have polled Wisconsin in the past couple weeks compared to those who polled at the end of 2016 are night and day. Ipsos and Marquette University were the only “A” pollsters to poll Wisconsin in the last two weeks of the race. Compared to today when Fox News, ABC/Washington Post, Marquette University, Emerson, and Siena/New York Times have all polled here in the last two weeks. Finally, the polls where only off by about a point in the 2018 midterms after the vast majority of pollsters corrected their methodology after 2016.

Finally, here are a few things I’ll be watching when the polls come in:

  • Does Biden win Kenosha County?
  • Does suburban Milwaukee County continue to move to the left?
  • How does turnout in the City of Milwaukee compare to 2016?
  • Does Trump rebound in the Milwaukee Suburbs/WOW Counties?
  • How close to 80% does Biden get in Dane County?
  • Does Biden rebound in the Madison Exurbs and Southwest Wisconsin?
  • Does Biden struggle in the southern part of the West Central Region like Tony Evers did?
  • Do we see a Democratic suburban surge in the Twin Cities exurbs?
  • Does Central Wisconsin continue to move towards Republicans?
  • Are the polls right and Biden is competitive in the Fox Cities?
  • Does Biden’s emphasis on his Catholicism help in in the very Catholic Fox Valley & Thumb region?
  • Does Trump continue to make massive gains in the Eastern and Western Northwoods?
  • How big (if at all) is the bounce back in Lake Superior Shoreline region?

Western Northwoods

National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame – Hayward, Wisconsin
  • Counties: Barron, Burnett, Polk, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, and Washburn
  • 2019 Population: 184,591 (3.17%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentage: 3.16%
  • October 1, 2020 Registered Voters: 115,415 (3.22% of statewide totals)
  • Race and Ethnicity: 92.85% White, 3.07% Hispanic, 1.31% 2+, 1.17% American Indian
  • Ancestry: 39.30% German, 15.08% Norwegian, 9.80% Irish, 7.82% Swedish, 5.71% English
  • Median Income: $46,341
  • Post-Secondary Degree Attainment: 29.9%

This region can be found in the northwestern corner of the state. South of the Lake Superior Shoreline but north of the Driftless Area and the Twin Cities exurbs. There are many similarities between this region and the Eastern Northwoods. The logging industry was also critical here in this region as well, particularly along the Black and Chippewa rivers. Both rivers allowed logs and boards to be followed down to the Mississippi River and then downward to major cities like St. Louis. Also, the Chequamegon component of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is prominent in this region. One thing that makes this region different than all of the other regions in the state is that there are no census defined metropolitan or micropolitan areas wholly in this region or even partially. In addition, there are no municipalities in the Western Northwoods region in the top 100. The largest city, Rice Lake in Barron County, has only 8,509 people. It’s also a bit more rural than the Eastern Northwoods at 24 people per square mile.

There are really only a few counties here that could have been in other regions. The first of which is Polk County. There is an argument that this could have been included in the Twin Cities exurbs region. There are a number of connections to the area in Minnesota across the St. Croix River, which is part of the core Twin Cities Metro Area. The main connection being Interstate State Park which is a park run jointly by the Department of Natural Resources for both Minnesota and Wisconsin.  However, the county is not part of the Twin Cities Metro Area and is more rural than the other two counties in the Twin Cities Exurbs region. It would not surprise me if one day it would make sense for it to join that region, but it is not there yet. The other county that would possibly be in another region is Taylor County. There are some connections with Clark County in the Central Wisconsin region, as Taylor County is the source of the Black River. However, the connections to the other major cities in the Central Wisconsin region are not as strong and the county is much more rural. In terms of counties that could have been added to this region, Chippewa County is the only one that could make any sense. The northern part of the county is very rural and wooded, like the rest of the Western Northwoods region. However, the connection of Chippewa Falls to Eau Claire outweighs any other connection.

Couple interesting things to point out when looking at the demographics of this region. First is this is the whitest region in the state. It is almost 12 points whiter than the statewide percentage. It is also the first time we see Swedish ancestry appear in the top five for a given region. Southwest Burnet County is one of the few concentrated areas of the state that report at least a 30% Swedish ancestry as of the 2000 Census. This region also has the second lowest median income at $8,269 below the state median and the third lowest post-secondary degree attainment at almost nine points lower than the state percentage. A lot of characteristics that make this region very suspectable to Trumpism.

  • PVI: R+10
  • Presidential Margins: Obama (08) +4% -> Romney +6% -> Trump +29%
  • 2018 Margins: Walker +21% | Vukmir +10%

Historically this region has swung back and forth between the two major parites. Throughout the 19th Century it was a pretty reliable Republican region as Norwegian and Swedish Americans were pretty loyal to GOP. When the Wisconsin Republican Party began to divide into the Progressive and Conservative Stalwart swings, this region went with the Progressive wing and was big supporters of the La Follette family. This included most of its legislative and congressional officials joining the Wisconsin Progressive Party in 1934. This was one of Robert LaFollette’s better regions in his primary loss to Joseph McCarthy in 1946. Nationally this was a swing region during this time. It went for Roosevelt in 1932 and 1936, but then to the Republican in 1940 and 1944, before going to Truman in 1948. It then went Republican the next three elections until 1964.

At the state level this transformed into a region that leaned to the Democrats with the election of Gaylord Nelson as Governor in 1958 and it remained this way pretty much up until 2010. Generally, if the Democrats won statewide, they would win this region. Jimmy Carter won here in 1976 and even held on to a few counties in 1980. Bill Clinton won this region twice. Gore and Kerry kept it close in their elections. Russ Feingold won here multiple times. Obama won it in 2008, almost sweeping every county. Romney flipped it in 2012, but Obama was still able to win a couple counties. Then 2016 came around and the region swing twenty-three points to the right.

Now this is one of the most Republican regions in the state. I can’t imagine any of the counties flipping in the upcoming election, even if Biden wins by around seven as the polling shows. Like in the Eastern Northwoods and East Central Wisconsin regions, this is sort of the perfect region for Trump. It is very rural with a lower median income, lower degree attainment, and a place where natural resource extraction was a key economic industry. These are all ingredients to places where Trump has done well. Biden’s goal here would be to cut Trump’s margin down to around where Evers got it against Walker. Trump on the other hand would love to push that margin over into the thirty-point range.

Barron County

Currier’s Lakeview Lodge – Near Rice Lake, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 45,244 (0.78%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.73%
  • October 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 26,810 (0.75% of statewide totals)
  • PVI: R+9
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +27%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker 17%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +7%
  • Municipalities: City of Rice Lake (8,509) Trump +15%

At a little over 45,000 people, this is the most populated county in this region and the City of Rice Lake is the largest municipality in the region. Obama won here in 2008 but lost in 2012. The place to look here on election day would be the aforementioned City of Rice Lake. Clinton lost here by fifteen points, but Evers only lost the city by under five points and Baldwin won it by nearly five points. The Biden camp would be thrilled if he could get the margin down here to Evers’ level. Winning here or any of the other municipalities or towns would mean Biden is on pace for a large statewide win. Trump’s goal would be to sweep the county again and push the margin into the low thirties.

Burnett County

Forts Folle Avoine Historical Park – Near Webster, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 15,414 (0.26%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.29%
  • October 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 10,579 (0.30% of statewide totals)
  • PVI: R+11
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +35%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +26%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +14%
  • Municipalities: Village of Grantsburg (1,281) Trump +32%

As previously mentioned, Burnett County is one of the most Swedish counties in the state and in the last ten years this ancestry group has moved hard to the right. Even if Biden where to win statewide by a healthy margin, Trump getting sixty percent of the vote here would not shock me. The locality to key in on when returns start to come in is the Town of Swiss in the northwestern part of the county. Clinton only lost here by six points, Evers by a half of a point, and Baldwin won it by over ten points. Biden’s goal here would be to win this town and not get shutout in Burnett County. If he’s winning any other towns that Baldwin did, like La Follette, Oakland, or Sand Lake, he would be looking at a big win in Wisconsin. Like all the counties in this region, Trump will want to preserve the sweep and push the margin here into the high thirties.

Polk County

Interstate State Park – Near St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 43,783 (0.75%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.73%
  • October 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 27,489 (0.77% of statewide totals)
  • PVI: R+11
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +29%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +19%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +10%
  • Municipalities: City of Amery (2,812) Trump +10%

Polk County is the second largest county in this region and one of only two counties that Obama did not win in 2008. This county, like all of them in this region, proceeded to swing strongly to the right over the next two elections. Keep your eye on the Village of Fredric in the northern part of the county. It went almost twenty points for Trump in 2016. However, Walker only won the village by less than point and Baldwin won it by over ten points. A strong showing by Biden here could be a piece of evidence that he’s doing better than Clinton in small town northern Wisconsin. If Biden is winning any municipality or town in this county, he’ll be on target for a huge win. Trump’s goal would be to push his lead here into the mid-thirties and win every town and municipality again.

Price County

Wisconsin Concrete Park – Near Philips, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 13,351 (0.23%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.25%
  • October 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 8,936 (0.25% of statewide totals)
  • PVI: R+8
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +26%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +21%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +6%
  • Municipalities: City of Park Falls (2,230) Trump +7%

Price County was a county that Obama won in 2008 and again narrowly in 2012, before swinging hard to Trump in 2016. You can still see some of this residual Democratic strength here as Baldwin only lost the county by six points, her second-best county in this region. The Village of Kennan is the place to watch when the returns come in next month. While Clinton lost here by over fourteen points, both Evers and Baldwin won here in 2018. Biden’s goal should be to win this village. If he’s winning any other towns of municipalities like the City of Park Falls, he will be on pace for a large win stateside. Trump will again want to sweep the county again and push his margin over thirty points.

Rusk County

Flambeau Mission Church – Near Bruce, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 14,178 (0.24%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.23%
  • October 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 8,194 (0.23% of statewide totals)
  • PVI: R+11
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +36%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +27%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +12%
  • Municipalities: City of Ladysmith (3,126) Trump +22%

Rusk County was another county that Obama won in 2008 but swung hard to the Republicans in both 2012 and especially 2016. None of the towns or municipalities were particularly close here in 2016, but in 2018 Evers came within less than two points from winning the Town of Hawkins in the eastern part of the county and Baldwin won it by almost twenty points. Biden’s goal would be to narrow Trump’s lead in this town to the low single digits. If Biden is winning anywhere in this county, he’ll be on pace for a Baldwin sized win. Trump will again want the sweep and push the margin here over forty points.

Sawyer County

Chippewa Flowage – Near Hayward, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 16,558 (0.28%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.31%
  • October 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 11,282 (0.31% of statewide totals)
  • PVI: R+6
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +19%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +13%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +3%
  • Municipalities: City of Hayward (2,311) Trump +17%

Sawyer County was the other county that Obama was able to win both times that he ran for President. Trump did historically well here for a Republican in 2016, but both statewide Democrats improved on Clinton’s margin here in 2018. Baldwin almost pulled out a win here. The town I would keep my eye on this year would be the Town of Bass Lake. It is home to a large portion of Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians Reservation. Clinton won here by under eight points, Evers by almost ten, and Baldwin by over twenty. Biden’s objective would be to win by over ten points in order to show that he’s made improvements with American Indians compared to Hillary Clinton. If he’s winning any towns or municipalities, not named the Village of Couderay or the Village of Exeland, Biden will be on pace for commanding victory. Trump’s goal would be to pick off the Village of Couderay and try to cut the margin down in the Town of Bass Lake to under five points.

Taylor County

Taylor County Courthouse – Medford, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 20,343 (0.35%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.31%
  • October 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 11,066 (0.31% of statewide totals)
  • PVI: R+18
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +47%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +43%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +25%
  • Municipalities: City of Medford (4,282) Trump +28%

This is the second county in this region that did not vote for Obama in 2008 and since then it has only gotten more Republican. If the relative margins are similar in 2020 as they were in 2016, Taylor County could pass Washington County and become the most Republican county in the state based on PVI. It is pretty difficult to find a place to pick out as nothing here is really competitive in a close race. If forced to pick I would go with the City of Medford. Clinton lost here by twenty-eight points, but Evers cut that down to a twenty-two-point loss, and Baldwin only lost here by about two points. Biden’s goal would be to get the margin here into the teens. If Biden is winning anything here or even close to winning anything, he will be on pace for a massive victory. Trump’s goal here is to get the margin over fifty points. 

Washburn County

George V. Siegner House – Spooner, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 15,720 (0.27%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.30%
  • October 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 11,059 (0.31% of statewide totals)
  • PVI: R+8
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +25%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +15%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +7%
  • Municipalities: City of Spooner (2,571) Trump +16%

Washburn was the only county in this region to go for John Kerry. Obama won it again in his massive 2008, but then lost it by under three points in 2012. Trump then got a massive margin here in 2016. Evers and Baldwin were able to regain some voters here in 2008. Look to the City of Shell Lake in the southern part of the county on election day. Clinton lost here by only six points in 2016 and Trump’s percentage was very close to his statewide percentage. In 2018, Evers won it by a little over a point and Baldwin by over eleven points. Both very close to the statewide margins. Biden will want to win this city. If Biden is winning anywhere else in this county like Baldwin did in City of Spooner or a few of the towns, he will be cruising to a large win in Wisconsin. Trump’s goal will be to complete another countywide sweep and push his margin close to thirty points.

Eastern Northwoods

Nicolet National Forest – Lakewood, Wisconsin
  • Counties: Florence, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Oneida, and Vilas
  • 2019 Population: 200,707 (3.45%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentage: 3.65%
  • September 1, 2020 Registered Voters: 127,898 (3.68% of the statewide totals)
  • Race and Ethnicity: 90.98% White, 4.22% American Indian, 2.09% Hispanic, 2+ 1.46%
  • Ancestry: 42.23% German, 11.77% Polish, 10.14% Irish, 5.67% English, 5.13% Norwegian
  • Median Income: $47,488
  • Post-Secondary Education: 28.8%

The Eastern Northwoods region is centered around the far northeastern part of the state. There are no census designated metropolitan areas in this region and only three micropolitan areas represented here (Iron Mountain (MI), Marinette and Merrill). This is an extremely rural area of the state with a density of 25 people per square mile. Only two municipalities (Marinette and Merrill) are in the top 100 for the state of Wisconsin and there are two counties (Florence and Menominee) with zero incorporated municipalities. The logging industry has been pivotal to this region throughout its history. Economically it was critical for the region, but it was also pivotal to the development of the local culture. The legends of Paul Bunyan, Babe the Blue Box, and the Hodag are all part of the local folklore that is connected back to the logging. Even with the presence of the logging industry, much of the region is still covered in dense forest. Some of this is contained in the Nicolet component of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. This is due to the mass efforts of the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps to grow and replenish the trees in the region. Maritime trades also a significant industry in the City of Marinette and should not be ignored.

In terms of the counties that make up this region, there are a few that could have possibly been in other regions. As mentioned in the Fox Valley and Thumb article, Oconto County could have been included in that region as It is part of the Green Bay Metropolitan Area. However, only a small part of the Oconto County has residential development that connects to the Greater Green Bay urban area and the rest of the county is pretty rural like the other Eastern Northwoods counties. Also, a large portion of Oconto County is covered in dense forest. Menominee County could have been in the East Central region as it is part of the Shawano Micropolitical Area and the vast majority of the county was once part of Shawano County. However, like Oconto County, this county is covered in dense woods. Lincoln County is could have been included with the Central Wisconsin region as it is part of the combined statistical area of Wausau-Stevens Point-Wisconsin Rapids Combined Metropolitan Area. However, Lincoln County is more rural and wooded than the rest of the Central Wisconsin Region. The only county that could have been added to this is Iron County. It would have resulted in all of the counties that border the Upper Peninsula of Michigan being in the same region. That said, Iron County has much more in common with the counties that make up the Lake Superior Shoreline region in terms of their ancestry, local economies, and political history.

Looking at the demographics of this region a couple things stand out. For one it is the third whitest region in the state, only behind Southwest Wisconsin and the Western Northwoods. It also has second highest percentage of American Indians of any region due to the presence of the Menominee Indian Reservation and the reservation for the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. In terms of ancestry nothing really sticks out, in fact the percentages here are not that far off from the state percentages. Median income is $7,122 less than the state median and the post-secondary degree attainment is the second worst in the state at 8.8% less than the state percentage. A lot of factors in play here as to why this is a region where Republicans have been excelling in the Trump era.

  • PVI: R+10
  • Presidential Margins: Obama (08) +7 -> Romney +5 -> Trump +28%
  • 2018 Margins: Walker +25 | Vukmir +11%

From the Civil War to the Great Depression the Eastern Northwoods typically supported the GOP. Franklin Roosevelt overwhelmingly won this region in both 1932 and 1936, before having closer contests here in 1940 and 1944. It then leaned to the Republicans for the rest of the century and into the 2000’s but would occasionally go to the Democratic like in 1964, 1996 and 2008. What is interesting is that Wisconsin Democrats were very successful in this region when It came to winning state legislative races. This region was represented by a Democrat in the State Senate from 1983 to 2012. This local strength faded quickly during Obama’s presidency and the area is now safely Republican on all levels.

Trump has only supercharged the long-term trends here by improving on Mitt Romney here by twenty-three points. There are so many previously discussed (very white, low college attainment rate, logging industry, etc.) factors that make this region prime territory for Republican strength. Walker was able to nearly match Trump’s margin here in 2018. He improved on Trump’s margin in the southern part of this region and the American Indian areas, while Evers improved on Clinton in the northern part of the district and in the more industrial area along Green Bay in the east. Vukmir’s win of only eleven points is almost embarrassing when you look at the other results. There are a couple places of Democratic support, such as the two reservations and the City of Rhinelander, but other than that the Republicans typically sweep everything here outside of a Baldwin style statewide landslide. Biden would be thrilled if he can just scrape away a few points from Trump here, while Trump would love to win by over thirty points.

Florence County

Upper Twin Falls Bridge – Michigan–Wisconsin Border
  • 2019 Population: 4,295 (0.07%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.09%
  • September 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 3,074 (0.09% of the statewide totals)
  • PVI: R+20
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +48%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +40%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +33%
  • Municipalities: N/A

Florence County is the smallest county by population in Wisconsin. Like Pepin County this is a county I would advocate merging with another nearby county, probably Forest County. I mean no offense to anyone that lives there. It is also the second most Republican county based on PVI, only behind Washington County down in the Milwaukee Suburbs. Even in his statewide landslide victory in 2008, President Obama lost here by over ten points. It’s really hard to pick a town (remember no municipalities) to look at on election night, but if forced to pick one it would be the Town of Florence. It is the largest town in the county and it had the smallest margin in recent races. Biden’s goal here should be to keep’s Trump’s margin below thirty-five points here. Anything more would be gravy. Trump would love to push the margins up here and win the county by over fifty points.

Forest County

Lumberjack Steam Train & Camp Five Museum – Lanoa
  • 2019 Population: 9,004
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.15%
  • September 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 5,600 (0.16% of the statewide totals)
  • PVI: R+7
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +28%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +24%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +5%
  • Municipalities: City of Crandon (1,800) Trump +33%

Trump winning Forest County in 2016 wasn’t shocking, but his margin definitely was. This county traditionally leaned to the Democrats since the New Deal Era due to its logging history. Obama and Bill Clinton won it twice, Dukakis won it, and even Kerry and Gore got within five points here. I don’t expect Biden to win this county, but we could see a bit of a bounce back here. The place I would look is the Town of Nashville in the southwestern part of the county. Trump and Walker won here by twelve, but Baldwin won it by over three points. If Biden can get the margin down to under ten points, he would be happy with what his margin would look like county wide. Trump’s goal here would be to sweep the county again and win by over thirty points. If Biden is winning any of the towns here like Baldwin did, he’d be on pace for a large double-digit victory statewide.

Langlade County

Langlade County Courthouse – Antigo, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 19,189 (0.33%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.34%
  • September 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 11,702 (0.34% of the statewide totals)
  • PVI: R+13
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +33%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +34%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +15%
  • Municipalities: City of Antigo (7,767) Trump +21%

Langlade County is a pretty rural county, but unlike some of the other counties in this region it actually has a decently sized city in Antigo. This is historically a pretty Republican county, but Obama did win here by a little less than a point here in 2008. That will not be happening this year. This is actually a county were Walker did better the Trump, which makes me think that Trump has more room to grow this year. The place to look when the results come in is the Village of White Lake in the eastern part of the county. Clinton lost here by twenty points in 2016, but there was some bounce back for the Democrats here in 2018 as Evers only lost the village by under four points and Baldwin won it. If Biden can get even close to the Evers margin, he’d be happy. If he’s winning it or any other place in the county like the City of Antigo, he’d be on his way to a large win statewide. Trump’s goal is to sweep here again and push his winning margin into the upper thirties.

Lincoln County

Council Grounds State Park – Merrill, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 27,593 (0.47%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.50%
  • September 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 17,257 (0.50% of the statewide totals)
  • PVI: R+7
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +22%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +19%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +3%
  • Municipalities: City of Merrill (9,048) Trump +9%

Lincoln County was another competitive county that Democrats would typically win if they were winning statewide. Obama won here in 2012. This is no longer the case since 2016. That said there is some room for Biden to rebound on Clinton’s performance. The place to look on election day would be the City of Tomahawk in the northern part of the county. Hillary Clinton lost here by over 12 points, but Evers only lost by a little less than six points and Baldwin won by almost six. If Biden can get the margin down to Evers margin’, he’ll be getting what he needs in this county. If he can win Tomahawk or any other municipality or town, he’ll be on pace for a large win statewide. Trump’s goal here would be to sweep the county again and push the margin into the high twenties.

Marinette County

Piers Gorge – Near Niagara, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 40,350 (0.69%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.67%
  • September 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 24,031 (0.69% of the statewide totals)
  • PVI: R+11
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +34%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +27%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +13%
  • Municipalities: City of Marinette (10,539) Trump +17%

Marinette County is the most populated county in this region and has more of an industrial history than other counties hear due to its shipbuilding and maritime history in the City of Marinette. Historically this county has leaned to the Republicans and Trump has only pushed that lean into the ultra-safe category. The place to look at here on election day would be the City of Marinette. Clinton lost here by seventeen points, but Evers only lost by eight and Baldwin won by over five points. Biden’s goal would be to get the margin down here to the mid-single digits. If he’s winning here like Baldwin did, he would be on pace for a very large win in Wisconsin. The Trump campaign would love to sweep the county again and push his lead into the high thirties.

Menominee County

Menominee Indians Veterans Park – Keshena
  • 2019 Population: 4,556 (0.08%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.04%
  • September 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 1,695 (0.05% of the statewide totals)
  • PVI: D+32
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Clinton +58%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Evers +58%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Baldwin +61%
  • Municipalities: N/A

Menominee County is home to the Menominee Indian Reservation. It is also the most Democratic county in the State of Wisconsin. Unfortunately for the Democrats there are only 1,695 registered voters here. It also appears that there has been a bit of backslide for Democrats since Obama’s winning margins of 74% in both 2008 and 2004. Biden’s objective here would be to get the margin closer to what Obama got. I think he’d be pleased with a margin in the mid-sixties. Trump on the other hand would be pleased if he could further reduce the margin down to the low fifties. There are no municipalities in this county and the only town overlaps the county, so the countywide margin is the most important thing to look at here.

Oconto County

Oconto Falls, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 37,930 (0.65%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.67%
  • September 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 23,475 (0.68% of the statewide totals)
  • PVI: R+14
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +38%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +34%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +19%
  • Municipalities: City of Oconto (4,545) Trump +23%

Oconto County is the second largest county in this region and also the second most Republican. It is similar to Marinette County, but also has some minor Green Bay exurban influence that was previously discussed. All of these factors make it a very Republican county. I’m still amazed Obama won here in 2008. Like most of the counties in this region, that will not be happening again this year. The place to look when the returns start to come in is the Town of Riverview in the far northern part of the county. Clinton lost here by nineteen points, Evers by sixteen points, and Baldwin won here by seven. A solid performance by Biden in the low double digits could mean that he’s making enough improvements in the rural parts of Oconto County and northeast Wisconsin in general to win statewide. If he’s winning here or in the City of Oconto like Baldwin did, Biden would be on track for a big state win. Trump’s goal is again to sweep the county again and push his margin into the low forties.

Oneida County

Hodag – Rhinelander, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 35,595 (0.61%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.73%
  • September 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 24,988 (0.72% of the statewide totals)
  • PVI: R+7
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +20%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +18%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Baldwin +4%
  • Municipalities: City of Rheinlander (7,642) Clinton +1%

In Oneida County we actually have a municipality that Democrats typically win with the City of Rhinelander. The rest of the county is pretty rural, in addition to the pretty touristy and Republican Town of Minocqua in the northwestern part of the county. The place I would look here on election day would be the aforementioned City of Rhinelander. Clinton won here by only a point in 2016, Evers extended that out to four points in 2018 and Baldwin won it by eighteen points. Biden’s goal would be to win here in the high single digits, while Trump would love to win this city and sweep the county like so many of the other counties in this region. Biden would be on pace for a double-digit statewide win if he wins any of the towns in the county like Baldwin did. Trump on the other hand will want to again sweep the county and push his margin into the upper twenties.

Vilas County

Strawberry Island – Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 22,195 (0.38%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.46%
  • September 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 16,076 (0.46% of the statewide totals)
  • PVI: R+11
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +26%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +27%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +15%
  • Municipalities: City of Eagle River (1,592) Trump +18%

Vilas County is another very rural and Republican County. Even Obama in 2008 was unable to win here. It is a very touristy county, with many people who live elsewhere in the Midwest owning land and cabins here. You also have the previously mentioned Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation in the southwestern part of the county in the Town of Lac du Flambeau. This is the town that one should focus on election day. Clinton won here by twelve points, Evers was close but did a bit worse in 2018, while Baldwin won over twenty-three points. Biden would love to push the margin up here into the high teens, while Trump would love it if he could reduce it down to the high single digits. Biden would be on his way to a large statewide win if he reduces any of the other town’s margins down into the teens like Baldwin did. Trump on the other hand wants to push the margin in the county to around thirty points.

Fox Valley & Thumb

Lambeau Field – Green Bay, Wisconsin
  • Counties: Brown, Door, Kewaunee, and Manitowoc
  • 2019 Population: 391,625 (6.73%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentage: 6.65%
  • September 1, 2020 Registered Voters: 230,646 (6.63% of state totals)
  • Race and Ethnicity: 83.86% White, 7.42% Hispanic, 2.89% Asian, 2.11% Black, 1.91% American Indian, 1.77% 2+
  • Ancestry: 40.01% German, 9.25% Irish, 9.10% Polish, 7.05% Belgian, 4.29% Norwegian
  • Median Income: $53,447
  • Post-Secondary Degree Attainment: 37.9%

Fox Valley & Thumb region is centered around the core of Green Bay Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). This includes Brown County, the primary county in the MSA, and Kewaunee County. Due to geographic constraints, Door County was also included in this region as its only land connection is with Kewaunee County. Finally, Manitowoc County rounds out this region. It’s inclusion here is not a perfect fit. However, compared to the alternatives, this was the only region that made sense. Manitowoc County is not part of the Appleton urban cluster that makes up the Fox Cities and while there are ties to Sheboygan County, the connections to Green Bay greatly outweigh the connections to the Milwaukee area.

In terms of counties that could have been included here, Oconto County is probably the biggest omission. Oconto County is part of the Green Bay MSA and the urban buildup of the Green Bay area does bleed over into the county. However, the vast majority of the county is very rural with a decent percentage covered by the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. It also makes sense to pair this county with Marinette County in the Eastern Northwoods region. Menominee and Shawano counties are both part of the Green Bay-Shawano Combined Statistical Areas (CSA). However, there are even less direction connections with Brown County for these two counties than were present in Oconto County. Finally, I considered adding Sheboygan County here. There are some connections with Manitowoc Counties as they are situated around mid-sized industrial cities on Lake Michigan. Plus, the two Sheboygan city high schools compete in the same sports conference with schools in the Fox Valley. However, there are just too many ties in Sheboygan County with the rest of the Milwaukee Exurbs and the Milwaukee Suburbs, such as being in the Milwaukee Media Market, for its inclusion here.

As I previously mentioned in the Fox Cities article, I originally planned to include Brown County with the Fox Cities. There has been increased discussion and analysis of the group of counties known as the “BOW” (Brown, Outagamie, and Winnebago) counties on their importance to elections in the state of Wisconsin. The issue was that the rest of the counties that make up this region (Door, Kewaunee, and Manitowoc) would have been too small to make up their own region and including them with the Fox Cities would have resulted in a region that was too populated and had too many different parts. In the end I had to make the tough choice and split Brown from the Fox Cities. At first, I was worried that his region would not make a ton of sense and would really feel too much like two different areas grouped together. That was until I found that put together this region is super Catholic.

In doing the research for a future supplemental article regarding the religious breakdown of Wisconsin, I found that this region was incredibly Catholic. Wisconsin as a whole is a pretty Catholic state at 46.78% of all adherents. However, this region is on another level at 64.23%. The next closest region (Central Wisconsin) is at only 53.13%. Door County has the lowest percentage of the four counties and it is still over the state percentage at 48.41%. There are some other interesting items when looking at this regions Demographics. For one this region is home to the largest Belgian American population in the United States. This can be found in the region around southwest Door County, northwest Kewaunee County. In terms of race, this region is only three points whiter than the state, which makes it the most diverse region in the northern part of the state. Also, the median income here is only $1,163 less the state and the post-secondary degree attainment almost the same as the state percentage.

  • PVI: R+5
  • Presidential Margins: Obama (08) +10% -> Romney +1% -> Trump +14%
  • 2018 Margins: Walker +12% | Baldwin 1%

A long time ago this was one of the more Democratic regions in the state. From the founding to the state until the early 1900’s this region consistently leaned towards the Democratic Party. This makes sense as Catholics were the core consistency of the Democratic Party in the state at the time. Brown County started to shift to the Republicans in the 20th Century and Door County has consistently leaned Republican until only the last couple decades. Kewanee and Manitowoc counties remained pretty Democratic throughout the last century. They were some of Kennedy’s strongest counties in 1960, with Brown County flipping too for JFK, even as Nixon won the state. Nixon was unable to break 50% in either Kewaunee or Manitowoc in his 1972 landslide against McGovern and Dukakis won them both in 1988. Things started to fade here starting in 2000 as both Gore and Kerry lost these two counties, while still winning statewide. This would have previously been considered unthinkable. Obama won them back in 2008, but they both saw massive Republican swings in both 2012 and 2016. Clinton did poorly here compared to Obama’s elections and Evers only improved here by about two points. He did better in the core Green Bay urban area but did worse than Clinton in large parts of Manitowoc County and the more touristy towns in northern Door County.

Statistically this region looks a lot like the Fox Valley in terms of how it votes, but I struggle to put my finger on how it’s going to go here in the 2020 election. I could totally see a situation where both Kewaunee and Manitowoc counties continue to move to the right, while Brown and Door counties move to the left. Biden’s goal should be to keep Trump’s margin below double digits here, like in the Fox Cities. This is also region where Biden’s emphasis on his Catholic faith could have a positive effect on the margins, given just how Catholic this region is. Trump will want to expand on his 2016 performance and get that margin up closer to twenty.

Brown County

Heritage Hill State Park – Allouez, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 264,542 (4.54%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 4.33%
  • September 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 151,662 (4.36% of state totals)
  • PVI: R+5
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +11%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +9%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Baldwin +3%
  • Municipalities: City of Green Bay (104,578) Clinton +4%, City of De Pere (24,970) Trump +5, Village of Howard (20,177 – Partially in Outagamie County) Trump +21%, Village of Ashwaubenon (17,161) Trump +12%, Village of Bellevue (15,944) Trump +12%, Village of Allouez (13,894) Trump +2%, Village of Suamico (13,052) Trump +37%, Village of Hobart (10,082) Trump +21%

Brown County is the fourth largest county in Wisconsin and while it leans to the Republicans, it can be won by the Democrats if they are winning by a large enough margin statewide. Biden has a couple objectives here in Brown County. Green Bay is the third largest city in the state and Biden would like to increase the margin in the city up into the high single digits at least. The second would be to win another municipality in the county. The Village of Allouez is the best candidate, but the City of De Pere is another possibility. If Biden is winning one of these municipalities, he’s getting what he needs in Brown County. If he’s winning any other municipality like the Village of Ashwaubenon or the Village of Bellevue, he’s probably winning the county and winning statewide by double digits. Trump’s objective here is much simpler. He would like to make up those last four points in the City of Green Bay and sweep the county. This would probably result in a win here for Trump of over fifteen points.

Door County

Ephraim, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 27,668 (0.48%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.61%
  • September 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 20,744 (0.60% of state totals)
  • PVI: R+1
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +3%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +1%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Baldwin +12%
  • Municipalities: City of Sturgeon Bay (8,934) Clinton +7%

Door County is pretty close to a bellwether county for Wisconsin. Southern Door County, rural but more populated than the northern part, is pretty Republican. The northern part of the county, also pretty rural but much more touristy, leans Democratic. Sturgeon Bay, the largest municipality in the county, also leans to the left. Put together this results in a county that is just ever so slightly more Republican than the state as a whole. The place to look here on election day would be the City of Sturgeon Bay. Biden’s goal would be to win here by over ten points. This would probably result in him winning the county. If Biden is winning any of the towns south of the tourist towns (anything south of the Village of Egg Harbor) he’s on pace to a big statewide win. Trump’s goal would be to narrow the margins in those northern tourist towns.

Kewaunee County

St. Lawrence Catholic Church – Stangelville, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 20,434 (0.35%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.36%
  • September 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 12,335 (0.35%)
  • PVI: R+10
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +29%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +24%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +9%
  • Municipalities: City of Algoma (3,048) Trump +0%

This is a very rural county and the second most Catholic county (72.97%) in Wisconsin. Polling has indicated that Joe Biden is in a stronger position than recent Democratic candidates when it comes to White Catholics. If that is the case, this would be a place where that should be evident. I’m not saying Biden will win here, but he see a decent improvement compared to Clinton. The place I would look when the results come in is the City of Algoma. Biden’s goal should be to win this city by five points or more. Hillary lost here by less than a quarter of the point and Evers won by about two and half points. If Biden is winning any other town or municipality, he would be on pace for a large statewide win. Trump’s goal would be to sweep the county again and push his win into the mid-thirties.

Manitowoc County

USS Cobia at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum – Manitowoc, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 78,981 (1.36%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 1.35%
  • September 1, 2020 Voter Registration: 45,905 (1.32%)
  • PVI: R+8
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +23%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +23%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +6%
  • Municipalities: City of Manitowoc (32,579) Trump +10%, City of Two Rivers (11,041) Trump +11

Manitowoc County is an industrial county on Lake Michigan with an economy that was built around shipping and ship construction. Trump had a near historic result for a Republican in 2016 and Scott Walker was able to match it in 2018. Biden’s goal here would be to get that margin down into the high teens. The place I would look in November is the City of Two Rivers. Clinton lost here by about eleven points, Evers by six, but Baldwin won by over nine. Biden would love to get the margin here to under three points or even win the city if possible. If he’s winning here and the City of Manitowoc it means he’s done a solid job regaining a portion of Obama-Trump voters and is on pace for a Baldwin like win. Trump’s goal here is to sweep the county again and push that margin into the high twenties.

Fox Cities

High Cliff State Park – Near Sherwood
  • Counties: Calumet, Outagamie, and Winnebago
  • 2019 Population: 409,881 (7.04%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentage: 6.91%
  • August 1, 2020 Registered Voters: 235,488 (6.88% of state totals)
  • Race and Ethnicity: 87.90% White, 4.47% Hispanic, 3.21% Asian, 1.73% Black, 1.59% 2+, 1.04% American Indian
  • Ancestry: 45.83% German, 9.78% Irish, 6.86% Polish, 6.46% Dutch, 4.53% English
  • Median Income: $58,413
  • Post-Secondary Degree Attainment: 38.9%

The Fox Cities region is comprised of the counties that make up the Appleton-Oshkosh-Neenah, WI Combined Statistical Area (CSA). This includes the Appleton Metro Area which includes Calumet and Outagamie counties and the Oshkosh-Neenah Metro Area which is just Winnebago County. The Appleton-Oshkosh-Neenah CSA is the third largest CSA that is wholly in the State of Wisconsin, only behind Milwaukee-Racine-Waukesha and Madison-Janesville-Beloit. The core of this CSA is centered around the City of Appleton at the top of Lake Winnebago. This is where the lower Fox River flows out of the lake in a northeasterly direction and into Green Bay. There are a number of suburbs and sister cities that surround Appleton including Neenah, Fox Crossing, Menasha, Kaukauna, and Little Chute among others. There is a secondary population core on the west central shore of Lake Winnebago comprised of the City of Oshkosh.

At first, I was planning on including Brown County into this region. There are a number of strong ties between that county and this region. They share the same media market and it is not a long distance between Kaukauna and the start of the Green Bay suburbs. The issue is this would have then required I also include the remaining counites that are here in Northeast Wisconsin: Door, Kewaunee, and Manitowoc. There are not enough people in these three counties to warrant their own region, but their inclusion with Brown County would have resulted in the Fox Cities being largest region in the state by population by a huge margin. I also in my researched discovered an item that solidly tied Brown County with both Kewaunee and Manitowoc counties that made me feel much better about them being in their own region. Fond du Lac County also could have been included in this region. It would have completed the entire loop of counties around Lake Winnebago, plus there are a number of cultural connections between Fond du Lac and this region. For instance, Fond du Lac High School sports teams are in the same conference as schools in the core Fox Cities. However, it made more sense to use Fond du Lac as a connector between Dodge County and Sheboygan County in the Milwaukee Exurbs region in addition to the previously discussed ties it has with the Milwaukee Exurbs.

Demographically, the Fox Cites region is not that much different from the state as a whole. It is about seven points whiter than the state, but this difference is on the lower end of the spectrum. Its post-secondary degree attainment percentage is almost exactly the same as the state as a whole and its median income is only $3,803 higher than the state medium. The only thing different that really jumps out is that the Fox Cities region has the highest percentage of Dutch American compared to any other region in the state. This Dutch community is primarily in the Village of Little Chute and the towns of Kaukauna and Vandebroek. This higher than average Dutch population is probably a component as to why this region is more Republican than other urban areas of the same size both statewide and nationally.

  • PVI: R+5
  • Presidential Margins: Obama (08) +11% -> Romney +1% -> Trump 12%
  • 2018 Margins: Walker 10% | Baldwin 2%

Historically this has always been a pretty Republican region and metropolitan area. Even back in the day when the Republican Party was split between Progressive and Conservative Stalwarts, and the Democratic Party was an afterthought, this region stuck with the conservative side of the Republican Party. In fact, this was Joe McCarthy’s base in his primary run in 1946 against incumbent Senator Robert LaFollette Jr. It has really only been in the last twenty years or so that the two largest cities in the region, Appleton and Oshkosh, have moved at into the lean Democratic camp. The other cities and villages of decent size are for the most part toss ups or lean to the Republicans. This is Senator Ron Johnson’s home region and the boost he’s been able to get here has helped him in both of his elections against former Senator Russ Feingold.

In today’s environment, the goal for Biden or any Democrat is to keep the margin reasonably close here. Around a ten-point loss or better in this region typically means they can prevent the Republican from accumulating a large vote total here and get enough elsewhere to win statewide. Clinton’s twelve-point loss here in 2016 was probably right at the line at what she could afford to give Trump and still win statewide, if she had done better in other regions. One only has to look at the fact Evers still lost here by ten points, but that was enough to win statewide. Winning the region as Obama did in 2008 and Baldwin in 2018 means they are winning statewide by double digits. Obama’s win here in 2008 was pretty incredible. He won Outagamie and Winnebago counties by double digits and even won Calumet County. I doubt we’ll see anything like that again moving forward, unless the major municipalities were to take a stronger blue turn here.  

Calumet County

Chilton Mural – Chilton, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 50,089 (0.86%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.89%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 30,340 (0.89% of state totals)
  • PVI: R+10
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +23%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +23%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +9%
  • Municipalities: Village of Harrison (12,358 – Partially in Outagamie County) Trump +22%

Calumet County is the most Republican county of this trio and outside of northwest corner is very exurban/rural. It is also a very Germany county. Biden will want to improve on the margins of both Clinton and Evers here by only losing in the high teens here. The place I would look on election day are the precincts of the City of Appleton that are in the northwest corner of the county. Clinton barely lost here and Evers only won by about a point. Biden will want to win here by at least a five-point margin. Biden would be on his way to a big statewide win if he’s also winning the City of Menasha’s precincts that are also in the northwest part of the county. Baldwin won those by three points. Trump would like to sweep this county again and push his margin into the upper twenties.

Outagamie County

Appleton, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 187,885 (3.23%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 3.11%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 108,075 (3.16% of state totals)
  • PVI: R+5
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +13%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +11%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Baldwin +0%
  • Municipalities: City of Appleton (74,098 – Partially in Calumet and Winnebago counties) Clinton +6, City of Kaukauna (16,270 – Partially in Calumet County) Trump +6, Village of Little Chute (12,081) Trump +12%

The sixth most populated county in the state, Outagamie County is the home to many of the major cities and villages in this region. The City of Appleton is a place where Biden would like to improve on Clinton’s margin and get close to a ten-point win. However, if there is one place to look on election day, it is the City of Kaukauna. Clinton lost it by five-points and Evers lost it by a point, while Baldwin won it by eleven. If Biden can pull out a win here, it means he’s probably getting enough to win statewide. If Biden is winning any other municipality in the county, he’s probably winning big statewide. Trump’s goal here would be to reduce Biden’s margin in the City of Appleton down to the low single digits. If Trump is winning Appleton, he’s on his way to a big statewide win.

Winnebago County

EAA Aviation Museum – Oshkosh, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 171,907 (2.95%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 2.94%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 97,073 (2.84% of state totals)
  • PVI: R+3
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +8%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +4%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Baldwin +6%
  • Municipalities: City of Oshkosh (67,004) Clinton +5, City of Neenah (26,300) Trump +1, Village of Fox Crossing (19,012) Trump +11%, City of Menasha (17,873) Clinton +0%

Winnebago County is just a bit to the right of being a statewide bellwether. A Democrat winning here means they are probably winning statewide. Biden’s goal should be to win this county. The place to look on election day is the City of Neenah. Clinton lost here by a little under a point and Evers won by less than half of a point, while Baldwin won by over eleven. If Biden can win here by around three points, he’s probably winning the county. Biden would also like to push that margin in the City of Oshkosh up to around ten points. Also, If Biden is winning the Village of Fox Crossing, he’s on his way to a big statewide win. Trump would love to flip the City of Menasha, which he almost won, and maybe go for the sweep and win the City of Oshkosh.

East Central Wisconsin

Roche-a-Cri Petroglyphs – Near Friendship, Wisconsin
  • Counties: Adams, Green Lake, Marquette, Shawano, Waupaca, and Waushara
  • 2019 Population: 171,039 (2.94%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentage: 2.85%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 97,378 (2.85% of the state totals)
  • Race and Ethnicity: 90.41% White, 4.18% Hispanic, 2.40% American Indian, 1.30 2+, 1.14% Black
  • Ancestry: 46.87% German, 9.58% Polish, 9.27% Irish, 6.89% Norwegian, 5.90% American
  • Median Income: $48,587
  • Post-Secondary Degree Attainment: 25.4%

I’m going to be 100% honest, in many ways this region is a hodgepodge of a bunch of different counties that really did not fit well in any of the other regions. The majority of the region is sort of in a no-man’s-land between the Central Wisconsin region centered on the Wisconsin River and the Fox Cities region on Lake Winnebago. Adams County could have possibly fit with Southwest Wisconsin, but I didn’t want that region to cross the Wisconsin River and there is nothing geologically in the county that could call for its inclusion into a Driftless Area region. Marquette County is in the Madison Media Market, but it is just too far away to justify its inclusion into the Madison exurbs region. Green Lake County shares a number of connections to Fond du Lac County, but there is no way one could justify any sort of connection between Milwaukee and Green County. Shawano County Is part of the Green Bay Combined Statistical Area, but when you start looking at demographic and socioeconomic factors, it makes sense to pair it with Waupaca County.

In terms of other counties that could have been added here, the only other one that could have made sense was Menominee County just north of Shawano County. This is home to the Menominee Indian Reservation and was formed in 1959 out of pieces of the surrounding counites. A large portion from Shawano County in particular. It could have made sense to pair this with the neighboring Stockbridge-Munsee Indian Reservation. I decided against this as if you again look at an aerial satellite footage, one can see that this county is predominately covered by dense forest. This makes it more appropriate to keep in the Eastern Northwoods. Finally, the City of New London straddles the line with Outagamie County, but it Outagamie County is the core of the Fox Cities region and would make little sense in this region.

So, what you really have in the East Central Wisconsin region is two subregions. The first subregion is Shawano and Waupaca counties. These are two very German counties rural counties, with a very high percentage of folks belonging to the evangelical Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. The second subregion is to the south of this and includes Green Lake, Marquette, and Waushara counties and for the purposes of this breakdown, Adams County. This area is more rural than the northern subregion, but also more Catholic and less evangelical. Yet with those differences, when you look under the hood you can see that this region actually works pretty well put together.

For one, every county in this region is extremely rural. Waupaca County is the most populated county in the region and it only has about 51,000 people. The largest municipality, the City of Shawano, as of 2019 only has 8,935 people. Two, when looking ancestry figures in the region, this is the first one where American appears in the top five at 5.90%. This is also again a very white region, nine and half points higher than the state. Also, the median income is $6,023 less than the state median. Finally, the post-secondary degree attainment in the region is 13.3% less than the state percentage. This is the lowest region in the state  These factors put together spell out a region that is right in the wheelhouse for Trump and the modern Republican Party.

  • PVI: R+12
  • Presidential Margins: Obama (08) +3% -> Romney 8% -> Trump 32%
  • 2018 Margins: Walker +26% | Vukmir +14%

Currently this region is only the second most Republican region in the state based on PVI. However, after the upcoming 2020 election I expect this region to pass the Milwaukee Suburbs to become the most Republican region. This region continues to get redder, while the Milwaukee Suburbs slowly move to the left. It’s amazing to think that only twelve years ago President Obama won five out of the six counties in this region, only losing Green County. Since than this region has rocketed to the right. This region saw the best improvement for Republicans from 2012 to 2016 as Trump improved on Romney’s margin here by twenty-four points. Looking at the previously discussed demographic and socioeconomic statistics of this region, it makes sense Trump would do very well here.

What is interesting is that both Baldwin and even to a lesser extent Evers were able to make some solid improvements on Clinton’s performance in this region. As seen in the swing map above, Evers outperformed Clinton pretty strongly almost everywhere. The only expectations were some of the towns and municipalities close to Evers’ problem county of Marathon. Biden would be thrilled if he could take down Trump a notch or two and get Evers’ margin here in November. That’s all he’d really need as I would expect Biden to improve on Clinton’s margins in other areas of the state. Trump would love for this to be a region of the state where he could expand on his 2016 margins and really push his margin up into the high thirties.

Adams County

Roche-a-Cri State Park – Near Friendship Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 20,220 (0.35%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.35%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 11,878 (0.35% of state totals)
  • PVI: R+5
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +23%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +14%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +3%
  • Municipalities: City of Adams (1,893) Trump +7%

Of all the counties in this region, Adams County is the only one that has the potential to be competitive. Prior to 2016 this county was essentially a bellwether, but in recent years it swung hard to the Republicans. On election day, I would focus on the Town of Dell Prairie. This town actually flipped to both Evers and Baldwin in 2018 after the Republican won it in the prior election. It was also one of only a few places where Evers outperformed Baldwin. If Biden is winning here it means he’s probably getting a positive result here in Adams County. Trump would love to complete the sweep again and push the margin up to the high twenties. Biden would be on track to a large statewide win if he’s winning the City of Adams and the Village of Friendship or even besting Baldwin and winning the county.

Green Lake County

Green Lake, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 18,913 (0.32%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.31%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 10,730 (0.31% of state totals)
  • PVI: R+17
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +40%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +35%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +21%
  • Municipalities: City of Berlin (5,385 – Partially in Waushara County) Trump + 27%

Green Lake County is the most Republican County in this very Republican region. Obama lost this county by around fifteen points in 2008 even as he was winning every other county in this region. I don’t expect Biden to get much out of this county, but his goal would probably be to match Evers losing margin of thirty-five points. It’s difficult to pick a specific place to look at on election day as every Republican since 2016 has swept this county, but if forced to pick I would say look at the City of Berlin in the northeast part of the county. If Biden is only losing here by around fifteen points, he’s losing by an acceptable margin. Trump would love to continue to expand on the Republican dominance here and get that margin into the upper forties. If Biden is winning any town of municipality in this county, he’s on pace to win the state in a landslide margin.

Marquette County

Fountain Lake Farm – Near Endeavor, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 15,574 (0.27%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.27%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 8,987 (0.26% of state totals)
  • PVI: R+8
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +25%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +17%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +8%
  • Municipalities: City of Montello (1,466) Trump +9

Like Adams County, this was a county that at one time a Democrat could win if they were winning statewide. Looking at the margins now it’s shocking to think that Obama won this in both of his elections. Biden’s objective here would be to get the margin down to about what Evers got here in 2018. To do so I’d look at the City of Montello. It almost exactly matched the statewide margin for the 2018 Gubernatorial race. From Trump’s point of view, he’d love to push this margin out to around thirty points. If Biden is winning any other local in this county like the Town of Buffalo, Village of Endeavor, or the Village of Oxford, he’s well on his way to a Baldwin size win statewide.

Shawano County

Old Tigerton Village Hall and Engine House – Tigerton, Wisconsin

Shawano County is historically a very Republican County, but there are a few Democratic hotspots here. In particular, in the north central part of the county, in the towns of Bartelme and Red Springs, is the Stockbridge-Munsee Indian Reservation. Biden’s objective here should be to try to get that margin down to around thirty points. On election day I would look to the Village of Gresham just south of the Stockbridge-Munsee Indian Reservation. If Biden is winning here, he’s probably getting the margin he needs here. Trump would love to push the margin here to forty points and maybe pick off the Village of Eland in the western part of the County. Biden would be on his way to a big statewide win if he’s winning the City of Shawano like Baldwin did.

Waupaca County

Hartman Creek State Park – Near Waupaca, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 50,990 (0.88%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.86%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 29,274 (0.86% of state totals) 
  • PVI: R+12
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +31%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +26%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +15%
  • Municipalities: City of Waupaca (5,969) Trump +7%

Like most of the counties in this region, Waupaca County is a very Republican County and it is historically so. Obama was the first Democrat to win here since FDR in 1936. The place to look at here on election day would be the City of Waupaca. Both Clinton and Evers got very close to winning the city and Biden winning it would mean he’s probably only losing here in the low twenties, which would be solid for a Democrat in this county. Trump would like to repeat his sweep in Waupaca County and push that margin out into the upper thirties. Biden would be on pace to win big win statewide if he’s winning anything else here like the portion of the City of New London that is in this county.

Waushara County

Whistler Mound Group – Near Hancock, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 24,443 (0.42%)
  • Average Vote from County Percentage: 0.40%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 13,581 (0.40% of state totals) 
  • PVI: R+13
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +34%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +28%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +16%
  • Municipalities: City of Wautoma (2,142) Trump +20%

Like Waupaca County, Waushara County is also historically a very Republican County. Obama in 2008 and Clinton in 1996 where the only Democrats to win here since FDR did in his first election in 1932.The place I would keep my eye on when the returns come in is the Village of Wild Rose in the central part of the county. Evers nearly won Wild Rose in 2018. If Biden can win it like Baldwin did, he’s probably only losing by a respectable amount here in the low twenties. Trump again wants to get the sweep here and would love it if he could push his margin up into the high thirties. If Biden is winning anywhere else in this county, like the Village of Hancock, he’d be on pace to have a pretty big win statewide.

Central Wisconsin

Cranberry Bog – Near Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
  • Counties: Clark, Marathon, Portage, and Wood
  • 2019 Population: 314,237 (5.40%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentage: 5.33%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 179,417 (5.25%)
  • Race and Ethnicity: 90.18% White, 3.79% Asian, 3.36% Hispanic, 1.31% 2+
  • Ancestry: 46.84% German, 17.82% Polish, 8.23% Irish, 6.25% Norwegian, 5.03% English
  • Median Income: $51,995
  • Post-Secondary Degree Attainment: 34.4%

This region is based around the Wausau-Stevens Point-Wisconsin Rapids Combined Statistical Area (CSA), incorporating its core counties of Marathon, Portage, and Wood. This area is colloquially referred to as the Wisconsin Valley as the majority of the major settlements are located on the Wisconsin River. Clark County was added to this region as four municipalities (City of Abbotsford, City of Colby, Village of Dorchester, and Village of Unity) straddle the county line between Clark County and Marathon County. There was no other factor present that could have overridden Clark County’s inclusion here in favor of another region.

There are a few other counties that probably could have been included in this region. The one that probably was the closest to being included was Lincoln County. Located just north of Marathon County, Lincoln County is included in the Wausau-Stevens Point-Wisconsin Rapids CSA and is the only county in the CSA not included in this region. Also, its only municipalities are located on the Wisconsin River, like the major cities in this region. It was a really close call, however I deiced to go with the Eastern Northwoods region for Lincoln County. If you look at a satellite view of the State of Wisconsin, you can see the dark and dense wooded area in the northern part of the state. The vast majority of Lincoln County is in this forested area. Taylor County, north of Clark County, was another potential addition here, but here too dense woodlands make up a large part of the county. The other surrounding counties were either too different from the other counties in this region or had a stronger tie to other regions.

A couple things pop out when looking at the demographics of the region. First, the largest minority group here in Central Wisconsin are Asian Americans. This is due in large part to the work of Catholic and Lutheran ministries to bring Hmong refugees to the City of Wausau during the mid-1970s. The Hmong were allies of the United States in Southeast Asian during the Vietnam War and the later stages of the Laotian Civil War. At the conclusion of both conflicts, Hmong were subjected to targeted attacks and tens of thousands were killed, imprisoned or forced to flee. The City of Wausau was the first place in Wisconsin to receive Hmong refugees and today Hmong Americans make up 11% of the city’s population. The second thing that jumps out in this region is it has the highest percentage of people claiming Polish ancestry. Northeastern Portage County into southeastern Marathon County is in fact one of the most concentrated Polish American areas in the country. In fact, the Town of Sharon in Portage County was the most Polish place in the United States in 2000 at over 60%. Finally, one should note that this region is over nine points whiter than the rest of the state, has a Black population so small it’s under one percent, is below the state medium income by $2,615, and its college degree attainment is four points less than state percentage.

  • PVI: R+6
  • Presidential Margins: Obama (08) +15% -> Romney +1% -> Trump +15%
  • 2018 Margins: Walker +14% | Vukmir +0%

Historically this was one of the stronger regions in the state for Democrats. Polish Americans were once one of the core constituencies of the Democratic Party in Wisconsin. This former strength among Polish Americans allowed Democrats to offset some of the Republican strength, built around German American voters, in Marathon and Wood counties.  For example, Portage County has voted for Democrats in every Presidential race going back to 1956 and if you exclude Eisenhower, you have to go back to 1924. Even as recent as 2008, Obama was getting over 60% of the Polish vote. This started to fade in 2012 when Obama won Polish Americans by around five points and then dramatically plummeted in 2016 as Trump won the Polish vote by almost nineteen points. Evers only did about a point better than Clinton in 2018 and even Baldwin lost them by three points. This was after Baldwin won the group by eight in 2012 against Tommy Thompson. A lot of this is the breakdown of old political ties that were based on ancestral/religious identity and the increasing importance of urban vs. rural as the new identifier that binds people to certain political parties.

While other regions like the Madison Exurbs, Southwest Wisconsin, Lake Superior Shoreline, etc. bounced back strongly to the statewide Democratic candidates in 2018, this region really did not. Evers only did 1.33% better than Clinton and as one can see in the map above, Walker did better than Trump in a shocking number of localities. Plus, Baldwin lost here after winning the region in 2012. That all being said, this is a region I could see Trump improving on his 2016 margin, even if Biden has a healthy lead statewide. Trump would love to push the margin here even farther into the low twenties, while Biden would be content somewhere in-between Evers and Baldwin in the high single digits.

In many ways this region has become one of the core areas in the state for Trumpism. One only needs to look at the 2018 Republican Senate Primary where this was one of the stronger areas in the state for Kevin Nicholson, the preferred candidate for many in the Trump sphere. This was in comparison to the more establishment friendly Milwaukee Suburbs where both Nicholson and Trump in 2016 did not perform that well in their respective primaries.

Clark County

Original Colby Cheese Factory – Near Colby, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 34,774
  • Average Vote from Region Percentage: 0.45%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 15,365 (0.45% of state totals)
  • PVI: R+12
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +34%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +30%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir 13%
  • Municipalities: City of Neillsville (2,409) Trump +19%

Clark County is a very rural and Republican county. It’s amazing to think that Obama won here in 2008 by eight-points.  Biden has no chance to win here, but like the other super Republican counties he would like to improve on Clinton’s margin here and only lose by around twenty-five points. The place to look here on Election Day is the Town of Sherwood in the southeast corner of the county. Clinton only lost here by three and Evers only won here by a little less than a point. A healthy lead here for Biden would probably mean he’s getting the margin he’d want in this county. Trump would obviously like to repeat the countywide sweep and expand his  lead into the high thirties. If Biden is winning any other town or municipalities like the Town of Reseburg or the City of Greenwood, he’s cruising to a big statewide win.

Marathon County

Rib Mountain State Park – Near Wausau, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 135,692
  • Average Vote from Region Percentage: 2.33%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 78,832 (2.30% of state totals)
  • PVI: R+8
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +19%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +21%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +6%
  • Municipalities: City of Wausau (38,561) Clinton +4%, Village of Weston (15,167) Trump +16%

Marathon County at one point was a swing county that typically only leaned about three to four points more Republican than the rest of the state. That has changed in recent years as it has zoomed to the right. This is one of the few counties not in the Milwaukee area where Evers did worse than Clinton. Not even Baldwin could win here while winning statewide by eleven points. Biden’s goal here should be to get Trump’s lead down to the low double digits. The place to look with the returns start to come in is the largest city in the county, Wausau. Clinton only won here by four points in 2016 and Evers only won it by two points in 2018. Biden would be getting the percentage he wants in this county if he can push that lead up to the high single digits. Trump’s goal here would be to improve on Walker and win Wausau to sweep the county. Biden would be on pace for large statewide win if he could show some resurgence in the old Democratic strongholds in the Polish American areas like the Town of Bevent or win some of the Wausau suburbs like Rothschild or Schofield.

Portage County

Stevens Point, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 70,772
  • Average Vote from Region Percentage: 1.30%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 42,766 (1.25% of state totals)
  • PVI: D+3
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Clinton +3%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Evers +6%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Baldwin +16%
  • Municipalities: City of Stevens Point (25,880) Clinton +26%, Village of Plover (13,099) Clinton +2%

    As previously mentioned, this has traditionally been one of the strongest counties in the state for Democrats. Not only were there rural Polish voters in the northeast corner of the county, but also the presence of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Now that the rural Polish vote has abandoned Democrats for the most part, Stevens Point is all that’s left. This is why Democrats still win here in almost every election, but no longer get the massive margins that they got in the past. This is the main county in the region where Biden will need to improve if he wants to cut down on Trump’s margin in Central Wisconsin. The key place I would look at in November is the Town of Hull just north of Stevens Point. Both Clinton and Evers lost here in the low single digits, while Baldwin won here by nine. A win here by Biden means he’s probably getting the improvements over Clinton and Evers that he would like to get in Portage County. Trump would love to grab some of the low hanging fruit by taking the villages of Amherst and Plover. Doing so would maybe flip the county to him, which again would be a first for a Republican since 1956. Like in Marathon County, Biden would be ecstatic if he’s winning back some of the traditional Polish American Democrats by winning the village of Rosholt or even the Town of Alban, where Baldwin actually tied Vukmir.

Wood County

Verso Corporation Paper Mill – Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 72,999
  • Average Vote from Region Percentage: 1.25%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 42,454 (1.24% of state totals)
  • PVI: R+7
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +20%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Evers +16%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +3%
  • Municipalities: City of Marshfield (18,471 – Partially in Marathon County) Trump + 10%, City of Wisconsin Rapids (17,610) – Trump +12%

This county in the past was similar to Marathon in that it typically was close to the state margin, plus about three to four points to the Republicans. This changed greatly in recent years as both Trump and Walker swept every town and municipality in this county. Biden’s goal here in the election should be to try to prevent the sweep again by winning either Marshfield or Wisconsin Rapids. Baldwin won both cities in 2018, so while difficult, would not be impossible. Doing so would probably result in Biden only losing here in the low teens, which is what he’d want to get here in order to win statewide. Trump would love to push his margin here into the mid to high twenties range. Biden would be on pace for Baldwin level statewide victory if he’s winning more than the aforementioned larger cities in the county.

A fun fact about Wood County is it is the largest producer of cranberries in the world. The United States produces the most cranberries of any nation on earth and of that Wisconsin produces 65% of the entire American crop, with Wood County producing the most of any county in the state. Also paper industry was crucial to the local economy here, but unfortunately the major plan shown in the picture above is closing as a result of the lack in demand for paper due to COVID-19.

Twin Cities Exurbs

The St. Croix River entering the Mississippi River – Prescott, Wisconsin
  • Counties: Pierce and St. Croix
  • 2019 Population: 133,441 (2.29%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentages: 2.24%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 79,376 (2.32% of state totals)
  • Race and Ethnicity: 86.28% White, 5.51% Hispanic, 4.47% Asian, 1.78% Black, 1.50% 2+
  • Ancestry: 41.02% German, 17.73% Norwegian, 13.31% Irish, 7.68% Swedish, 5.66% English
  • Median Income: $70,738
  • Post-Secondary Degree Attainment: 44.8%

The Minneapolis–St. Paul–Bloomington Metropolitan Statistical Area is comprised of sixteen counties, two of which are in Wisconsin. The counties of Pierce and St. Croix make up only a little over 3% of the population of the Metro Area and 16% of its land area. However, the influence the Twin Cities have on these two counties are immense and make them fundamentally different than the surrounding regions.

St. Croix County was the first of the two counties to be added to then Minneapolis–St. Paul Standard Metropolitan Area in 1973 as the region continued to grow at a robust and steady rate. The economic and commuter connections across the St. Croix River became too strong to ignore. This has included large population growth for St. Croix County as its population has doubled since its inclusion in the Twin Cities Metro Area. This included a 33.6% growth rate in the 2000’s, which was the fastest for any county in the state of Wisconsin in that decade. This slowed during the Great Recession and has never really recovered in the 2010’s as the population growth has only been 7.5%, the smallest it has been here since the 1950’s. Pierce County was added in the 1990’s as its population became more connected to the Twin Cities. Its growth, however, has not been as fast as St. Croix’s.

One might ask why not just include these counties with the West Central Wisconsin region. It racially looks similar and the ancestry numbers are also similar, with the only difference being you start to see some decent percentages of Swedish Americans as we continue to move to the north and west. Also, it’s the population is not that large. Only the Lake Superior Shoreline has a smaller population than this region. That all said, its connections to the Twin Cities has resulted in a population that is fundamentally different than the surrounding areas and is much more white collar in nature. At $70,738, the median income is $16,128 higher than the state medium and second highest statewide, only behind the Milwaukee Suburbs. It also has the fourth highest post-secondary degree attainment in the state, 6.1 points higher than the state percentage. These data points outweigh the smallness of the region and some of the similarities to the West Central Wisconsin region in warranting that this become its own region.

The only other county I considered for this region was Polk County, north of St. Croix County. There are some connections between Polk County with the rest of this region and the Twin Cities. The strongest being Interstate Park, a State Park on the St. Croix River that is run jointly by both the Minnesota DNR and Wisconsin DNR. The Minnesota side is located in Chisago County, which is one of the fourteen Minnesota counties that make up the Twin Cities Metro Area. However, the median income and educational attainment is much smaller in Polk County than in Pierce or St. Croix County. Plus, it is not included in the Minneapolis–St. Paul–Bloomington Metropolitan Statistical Area. It would not surprise me if one day it joined that Metro Area, but it is not there yet.

  • PVI: R+8
  • Presidential Margins: Obama (08) +1% -> Romney +9% -> Trump +18%
  • 2018 Margins:  Walker +11% | Vukmir + 2%

Politically this region is pretty Republican, but this has not always been the case. Before its identity really started to converge with the Twin Cities Metro, it voted almost identically with the West Central Wisconsin and Western Northwoods regions, typically for Democrats. Bill Clinton won this region both times in the 1990’s and statewide Wisconsin Democrats regularly won here in the 2000’s. This started to shift nationally in the Bush era and then locally in the Walker era as the exurban areas throughout the state and nationwide shifted strongly to the Republicans. Pierce County will sometimes still vote Democratic as its largest city, River Hills, is a college town that pretty consistently supports Democrats. That all said, as the suburbanization process continues and the Twin Cities region continues to grow, these exurbs will probably start to behave and vote like other suburbs in the region. You can see this with how both Evers and Baldwin improved on Hillary Clinton’s margin here. Evers almost matched Obama’s 2012 margin and Baldwin got close to winning here. Biden obviously doesn’t need to win this region to win Wisconsin, but he’d like to narrow Trump’s lead here down below ten points. Trump on the other hand would love to stretch this lead out to over twenty points.

Pierce County

Kinnickinnic State Park – Near River Falls, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 42,754 (0.73%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentages: 0.72%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 24,056 (0.70% of state totals)
  • PVI: R+5
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +15%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +3%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Baldwin +6%
  • Municipalities: City of River Falls (16,027 – Partially in St. Croix County) Clinton +8%

Pierce County is a county that tends to tease Democrats on election night. I think this is partially due to the fact the City and Town of River Falls, the main Democratic strength in the county, tends to report first. I thought for sure Evers had won this county in 2018, but the final batch of precincts were very pro-Walker. This is a borderline swing county in this election given that Evers only lost by three points and Baldwin won by six. It’s not a county Biden needs to win, but reducing Trump’s big margin from 2016 down to the mid-single digits would help statewide. The place to watch in November is the Village of Spring Valley in the northeast corner of the county. The winning percentage for both Trump and Baldwin in this village matched their statewide percentage and even Evers won it against Walker. Biden could be on path to win this county and have a large statewide win if he’s winning the towns of El Paso and Rock Elm like Baldwin did. Trump would love it if he could win the Town of River Falls, leaving Biden with only the city of the same name.

St. Croix County

Willow River State Park – Near Hudson, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 90,687 (1.56%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentages: 1.55%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 55,320 (1.62% of state totals)
  • PVI: R+10
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +20%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +14%
  • 2018 Senate Margin: Vukmir +6%
  • Municipalities: City of Hudson (14,103) Clinton +0%, City of New Richmond (9,414) Trump +13%

I’m still not sure exactly what is going on here in terms of its political direction. Trump did over six points better than Romney did here, but his vote percentage remained exactly the same, the marginal improvement was due to those six points voting for third parties. The county swung to the Democratic candidates in both 2018 elections, which makes me think that maybe there is a growing shift here to the left. That said I don’t expect Biden to win here, but he’d probably want to get the margin down to around what Obama did in 2012 or little better. The place to look here would be the Village of North Hudson. Evers only lost here by a little over two points and Baldwin won by over four points. If Biden can pull out a win here, it means he’s probably only losing in the low double digits or high single digits. If Biden is winning a place like the Village of Hammond, his margin here is even closer and he’s probably looking at a strong statewide win. Trump would love to reverse some of the suburban problems he’s experienced and sweep this county by winning the City of Hudson and even the piece of the City of River Falls that’s in this county.

West Central Wisconsin

Chippewa River – Near Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
  • Counties: Buffalo, Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, Pepin, and Trempealeau
  • 2019 Population: 285,282 (4.90%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentages: 4.72%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 160,263 (4.69% of state totals)
  • Race and Ethnicity: 90.95% White, 3.08% Hispanic, 2.48% Asian, 1.16% Black, 1.40% 2+
  • Ancestry: 40.51% German, 19.90% Norwegian, 10.12% Irish, 7.32% Polish, 4.92% English
  • Median Income: $51,455
  • Post-Secondary Degree Attainment: 37.0%

This region can be viewed as the northern Driftless Area region. The main population base in this region is the Eau Claire-Menomonie Combined Statistical Area (CSA). This includes Chippewa, Dunn, and Eau Claire counties. This area is also referred to as the Chippewa Valley as the Chippewa River flows though all three counties. Also included in this region are the counties that are along the Mississippi Rivers and have major Wisconsin rivers (Black, Chippewa, and Trempealeau) empty out into the Mississippi River within their borders. This includes Buffalo, Pepin, and Trempealeau counties. Finally, we include Jackson County as it makes sense from a geographical sense.

As mentioned in the entry on Southwest Wisconsin, this region could have been combined with the Southwest region to create a mega Driftless Area region. This would have been the second most populated region in the state and by far its largest in area. In short it would have been too big. The split between the two regions makes sense as there are different political, cultural, and historical characteristics between the two regions. Also, it allows us to have one region that is centered around La Crosse and the Wisconsin River and another that is centered around Eau Claire and the many major northern Wisconsin rivers that come into the Mississippi River.

A couple counties possibly could have been in other regions. Jackson County doesn’t completely fit in this county as it’s neither part of the Eau Claire-Menomonie CSA and it does not border the Mississippi River. However, due to the prominence of the Black River through the county it makes sense to group it with the county where it empties out into the Mississippi River, Trempealeau County. Chippewa County has many features that make it more in common with the Western Northwoods region, but with it being a part of not only the Eau Claire-Menomonie CSA but also the Eau Claire-Chippewa Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) makes its inclusion here clear.

There is also the question of Clark, Pierce, and St. Croix counties, as all three could have been included in this region. The Black River flows through the heart of Clark County which clearly connects it with Jackson and Trempealeau counties. Yet at the same time there are four municipalities (Abbotsford, Colby, Dorchester, and Unity) that straddle the county line between Clark and Marathon, which clearly shows that Clark should be in the Central Wisconsin Region. Then there is the question of Pierce and St. Croix counties. They could definitely be included in this region as Pierce County is a Driftless Area county and there are strong connections between St. Croix County and the Eau Claire area. However, these two counties inclusion in the Minneapolis–St. Paul–Bloomington MSA makes them clearly different than any other region in the state and worthy of being their own region, which will be discussed in further in the next regional breakdown.

This region is also very white, about ten points more white than the state percentage and there is no minority group that has a higher percentage here than the state as a whole. It is also the most Norwegian region in the state at 19.9% which is almost twelve and a half points higher than that state percentage. This mixed with the slightly larger German population results in a region were Catholicism is only the largest denomination to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (Mainline Lutherans) by 1.38%. The is the closest Catholicism gets to being number two in one of the seventeen regions. I plan on doing a couple of supplementary articles in the future on ancestry and religion in Wisconsin and how it intersects with elections today. This region is also below the statewide median income by $3,155, but only slightly below the statewide percentage for those attaining a college degree.

Historically, this region has a varied political history. As a heavily Norwegian area it in many ways followed the political whims of that ancestry group. Early in Wisconsin’s history this region was very Republican, but more on the left side of the party. It was an early supporter of Robert M. LaFollette’s Progressive wing of the Wisconsin Republican Party. It then strongly supported the Wisconsin Progressive Party that broke off from Republicans under the leadership of LaFollette’s kids in 1934. After the Progressive’s dissolved in 1946 the region went back to supporting left leaning Republicans, but starting in the 1960’s and 1970’s this area began to move to the Democrats as the Republicans shifted to the right in the state and the Democrats to the left. Post-Kennedy, Democrats that won the state typically won this region. Just look at the county maps for Carter, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, and Kerry.

  • PVI: R+1
  • Presidential Margins: Obama (08) +18% -> Obama (12) 9% -> Trump +7%
  • 2018 Margins: Walker +1% | Baldwin +11%

Like the Madison Exurbs and Southwest Wisconsin regions, this was another region that saw a large shift to Trump. Obama won this region by solid margins in both of his elections, only to have Trump win it with a sixteen-point swing in 2016. What makes this region different however is, unlike the other two aforementioned regions, this one didn’t totally come back to the Democrats in 2018. Evers lost this region by a little over a point and only won Eau Claire County. Compared to Clinton, Evers did better almost everywhere, with the exception of along the Mississippi River in the southern part of the region. Baldwin on the other hand had a double-digit win and came 104 votes short of sweeping every county in the region, losing only Buffalo, Chippewa, and Pepin Counties. This large difference between Baldwin and Evers in this region and in many upcoming regions is why I am going to be including regional maps of the 2018 Senate Election from now on. In terms of 2020, this is again a region that Biden needs to improve on if he wants to win statewide, but like the Southeast Wisconsin region, it is not necessary that he wins this region. Trump would love to improve on the big swing that he got here in 2016 and push that lead up into the double-digits.

Buffalo County

Merrick Start Park – Near Fountain City, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 13,031 (0.22%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentages: 0.23%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 7,916 (0.23% of the state total)
  • PVI: R+7
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +23%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +18%
  • 2018 Senator Margin: Vukmir +0%
  • Municipalities: City of Mondovi (2,564) Trump +19%

Buffalo County is a rural county that borders the Mississippi River. Prior to Trump’s victory in 2020, this county was on of the top contenders to be the bellwether county for the state of Wisconsin. Since 2016 this has become a typically reliable Republican/Conservative county. The place to look here on election day would be the Village of Nelson in the northwestern part of the county. It was close to the both race’s margin in 2018 and Trump only got 50% of the vote here in 2016. Biden won’t win the county just because he’s winning the Village of Nelson, but it would be a good sign statewide. If Biden is winning the county here or getting close to Baldwin’s margins, he’s clearly in for a big win statewide. Baldwin narrowly won the Town of Buffalo in the southern tip of this county after losing it in 2012. If Biden wins there, he could be close to winning the county. Trump would love to continue to push that margin upward into the high twenties.

Chippewa County

Lake Wissota State Park – Near Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 64,658 (1.11%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentages: 1.05%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 36,172 (1.06% of the state total)
  • PVI: R+7
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +20%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +14%
  • 2018 Senator Margin: Vukmir +0%
  • Municipalities: City of Chippewa Falls (14,366) Trump +1%

Chippewa County is a split county in terms of its personality. In the Southwest part of the county you have the City of Chippewa Falls, the Village of Lake Halie, and part of the City of Eau Claire. This area is part of the more direct urban and suburban areas around Eau Claire. It is a swingier area and typically supports the statewide winner. The rest of the county has more of rural and small-town vibe and is pretty Republican. Obama won here in 2008 but lost in 2012, even as Baldwin won the county in her first Senate election. The place to look in this county when the returns start to come in is the City of Chippewa Falls. Clinton lost here by a little under a point in 2016 and Biden will not only want to win Chippewa Falls but do so by around five points or better. Biden will be super thrilled if he can match Baldwin’s margin or even gain the few necessary votes need to win the county. If he’s winning the Village of Lake Hallie he’ll be thrilled, while Trump will want to improve on his 2016 performance by having a clean sweep of all towns and municipalities in this county.

Dunn County

Menomonie, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 45,368 (0.78%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentages: 0.72%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 24,435 (0.71% of the state total)
  • PVI: R+3
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +12%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +3%
  • 2018 Senator Margin: Baldwin +6%
  • Municipalities: City of Menomonie (16,551) Clinton +14%

Dunn County is one of the true swing counties in this region and the state. It is home to the University of Wisconsin-Stout in the City of Menomonie, which is the official technology school of the University of Wisconsin system. It will be interesting to see if COVID-19 results in a reduction of normal turnout for a Presidential election. Biden doesn’t need to win this county to win statewide, but he would like to reduce Trump’s lead to under five points here. On election day, I would look at the Village of Elk Mound in the eastern part of the county as it flipped to both Evers and Baldwin in 2018 after going for Trump by almost nine points in 2016. Biden will be on his way to large statewide win if he’s winning this county and to do that, he needs to win a few of the towns in this county. The one I would look at is Town of Menomonie just to the west of the namesake city. Baldwin won it by close to the county’s margin. Trump would love to repeat the near sweep that he got here in 2016 and reduce Biden’s margin in the City of Menomonie down to under ten points.

Eau Claire County

Eau Claire, Wisconsin
  • Eau Claire County
  • 2019 Population: 104,646 (1.80%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentages: 1.74%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 61,138 (1.79% of the state total)
  • PVI: D+4
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Clinton +8%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Evers +12%
  • 2018 Senator Margin: Baldwin +22%
  • Municipalities: City of Eau Claire (68,802 – Partially in Chippewa County) Clinton +18%

Eau Claire County is a lot like the La Crosse County in this region. It was the only county that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 and there is a sizeable student population here with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Home to the largest city in the region and eighth largest city statewide, this is county where Biden would love to push up the margin a bit more in order to bank more votes. The place I would look on election day is the City of Altoona, a suburb just to the east of the City of Eau Claire. Biden wants to match or do better than Evers’ six-point margin here as that would mean he’s winning the county by over ten points. If he’s winning any of the towns that surround Eau Claire and Altoona or all of them like Baldwin did, he’s probably getting over 60% of the vote here and winning big statewide. Trump would love it if he could flip the City of Altoona as it would indicate that he’s winning by a solid margin statewide.

Jackson County

Silver Mound Archeological District – Near Alma Center
  • 2019 Population: 20,643 (0.35%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentages: 0.31%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 10,603 (0.31% of state totals)
  • PVI: R+1
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +12%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +5%
  • 2018 Senator Margin: Baldwin +10%
  • Municipalities: City of Black River Falls (3,465) Clinton +4%

Jackson County is the second of three swing counties in this region. It is a pretty rural county that was pretty consistently Democratic up until Trump’s win in 2016. This a county that Biden would like to win, but not a necessary county for him. He’d probably be fine with a narrow loss here that was slightly better than Evers’ 5-point defeat. When the returns come in, I would look at the Town of Irving in the southwest part of the state. Walker won here by just over a point. A Biden win here would result in a countywide margin around where it needs to be. Biden is in for a solid win here if he can win a place like The Town of Albion like Baldwin did, while Trump would love to continue to expand on his 2016 margin by winning the City of Black River Falls, the largest city in the county.

Pepin County

Pepin, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 7,287 (0.13%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentages: 0.12%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 4,169 (0.12% of state totals)
  • PVI: R+7
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +24%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +13%
  • 2018 Senator Margin: Vukmir 2%
  • Municipalities: City of Durand (1,800) Trump +26%

I mean this as no offense to anyone that is from Pepin County and has Pepin Pride, but I’m not really sure why this county exists. It could totally be merged with Buffalo County and it would still be the smallest populated county in the state. That being said this was another county that voted for Obama twice before moving sharply to the right in 2016. Trump was the first Republican to win Pepin County since 1972. Biden would be happy if he could improve a bit on Evers’ losing margin here and only lose by around 10 points. The place to look here on election day would be the Town of Pepin on the Mississippi River. Biden would be pumped with Pepin Pride (not sure if this is a thing, but it is now) if he could get close to Biden’s margin or actually win the county. To do that he’d want to win the Town of Albany and the City of Durand. Trump would be pleased if he could sweep the entire county this time by winning the Villages of Pepin and Stockholm.

Trempealeau County

Trempealeau Mountain in the Mississippi River – Near Trempealeau, Wisconsin
  • 2019 Population: 29,649 (0.51%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentages: 0.46%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 15,830 (0.46% of state totals)
  • PVI: R+1
  • 2016 Presidential Margin: Trump +13%
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Margin: Walker +10%
  • 2018 Senator Margin: Baldwin +7%
  • Municipalities: City of Arcadia (3,040) Trump +23%

Trempealeau County is the third and final swing county in this region. This is the most Norwegian County in the state and one of the swingier counties in the state. One only needs to look at the seventeen-point difference between Evers’ seven-point loss here and Baldwin’s ten-point win. Walker always performed well here, but there has to be something more going on here that I just can’t put my finger on. Vernon County in the Southwest region is only about a percent less Norwegian than Trempealeau County, but Evers won in Vernon County. So, it’s not that. If anyone is from Trempealeau County or near the near the county, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are. Biden would love it if he could narrow the margin down here to the mid-single digits. To do that he’s going to need to win in a place like the Town of Ettrick. Evers’ lost here by seven-points while Baldwin won by thirteen-points. Biden would be on his way to a major statewide win if he could win this county. To do that he’d need to win many of the towns that Baldwin did like Burnside, Doge, Hale, Pigeon, Preston, Trempealeau, and Unity. Trump would love to sweep this county by winning the three 2016 holdouts of the City of Blair and the Villages of Pigeon Falls and Strum.