Milwaukee County

Wisconsin State Fair Park – West Allis, Wisconsin
  • Counties: Milwaukee County (Minus the City of Milwaukee)
  • 2019 Population: 355,569 (6.11%)
  • Average Vote from Region Percentages: 6.62%
  • August 1, 2020 Voter Registration Totals: 222,021 (6.49% of the state totals)
  • Race and Ethnicity: 74.90% White, 11.97% Hispanic, 5.87% Asian, 4.78% Asian, 2+ 1.90%
  • Ancestry: 36.82% German, 15.78% Polish, 11.98% Irish, Italian 5.42%, 4.93% English
  • Median Income: $62,823
  • Post-Secondary Degree Attainment: 47.4% 

The debate here was whether or not to have just one region for the entirety of Milwaukee County, including the City of Milwaukee. With much thought I think there are clear enough differences when it comes to the racial, ethic, economic, and educational differences between the other communities in Milwaukee County and the namesake City. One could actually argue that this region could be divided up into four regions: Northeast, Southeast, South, and West. There are clear differences between these three areas, but I decided against that as that would result in regions that are too small and there are enough commonalties to keep them all together. However, I will be using those inter-county regions for further discussion.

First in the Northeast you have seven different cities and villages. With the exception of Brown Deer (57.5%) and a lesser extent Glendale (77.4%), this region is extremely white. Median income levels are also generally much higher here than the rest of the county. Again, other than Brown Deer, every community in this area has very high college degree percentages with Fox Point leading the way with 80.1%. This area is also less German than the region and the state, but higher percentages of people claiming Irish and English ancestry. Historically this was a very strong Republican white-collar area but has transitioned to the Democrats over the past two decades. While the WOW counties (Washington, Ozaukee, and Waukesha) get the hype, this is one of the true spots of a Democratic suburban surge in the state. Only River Hills and it’s $151,111 medium income still will vote for Republicans.

The second sub-region in the county is the Southeast. There you also have three cities on the coast of Lake Michigan (St. Francis, Cudahy, and South Milwaukee). These cities are very white, but with low post-secondary degree attainment. Manufacturing still makes up almost 20% of the industry here so this is your quintessential white working-class area. The area is also more Polish than the rest of the state and county. Historically this sub-region was strong for the Democrats and it still leans that way, even as the margins have tightened in the educational realignment in the era of Trump.

Then you have the third sub-region with the South. This includes the larger sized but less dense cities of Franklin and Oak Creek. Both of these communities incorporated as cities in the mid-1950’s in order to prevent being annexed by the City of Milwaukee. The law was actually changed in order to allow for reduced population density requirements for a “fourth class city” within any county containing a “first-class city,” meaning this was a law that only applied to Milwaukee County. At one point these cities were very much working-class Democratic communities, before they have transitioning to the Republicans throughout the 1990’s and into the 2000’s. In many ways they are more similar to the low-density suburbs around Racine, even though Oak Creek might be moving back a bit to the center. Lastly you have the Village of Hales Corners which would fit in with the Republican nature of Waukesha County and the Village of Greendale which is was founded as a “Greenbelt” community during the New Deal. This sub-region has an above average median income, slightly above average college degree attainment, is very white, and like the Southeast sub-region is very Polish.

Lastly you have the West sub-region that includes the three largest non-Milwaukee cities in the county: West Allis, Wauwatosa, and Greenfield. Plus, the much smaller Village of West Milwaukee. This region is about as white as the other three, but splits the difference between the more white-collar Northeast and blue-collar South/Southeast. Wauwatosa is the most white-collar of the four communities, with an above average medium income and college degree attainment, and it used to be a Republican stronghold. Scott Walker represented this city in the State Assembly from 1993 to 2002. This has changed in recent years as it’s moved radically to the left, similar to the Northeast sub-region. West Allis on the other hand is more blue-collar, with a lower than average median income and college degree attainment. It used to be stronger for the Democratic Party than it is now, but it still votes Democratic in most elections. Greenfield splits the difference between Wauwatosa and West Allis in terms of the white/blue-collar divide but leans to the right. West Milwaukee is very Democratic, essentially indistinguishable from the surrounding area in the City of Milwaukee with a growing Hispanic community.

  • PVI: D+2
  • Presidential Margin: Obama (08) +7%->Obama (12) +3%-> Clinton +11%
  • 2018 Margin: Baldwin +18% | Evers +7%
  • Municipalities: City of West Allis (59,890)  Clinton +3%, City of Wauwatosa (48,118) Clinton +24%, City of Greenfield (37,221) Trump +3%, City of Oak Creek (36,325)  Trump +8%, City of Franklin (35,811) Trump +14%, City of South Milwaukee (20,696) Clinton +1%, City of Cudahy (18,104) Clinton +7%, Village of Greendale (14,143) Trump +4%, Village of Whitefish Bay (13,783) Clinton +36%, Village of Shorewood (13,145) Clinton +65%, City of Glendale (12,768) Clinton +39%, Village of Brown Deer (11,839) Clinton +37%, City of St. Francis (9,699) Clinton +14%

This is a region in the state where Biden would like to continue the Democratic trend and improve on Hillary Clinton’s margin of eleven points and be closer to Baldwins margin of eighteen points. Evers’ margin shows that Republicans can still keep the margin here in the single digits, but that might be more due to this being Scott Walker’s home region. Walker outran Trump in his hometown of Wauwatosa, flipped River Hills, and generally over-performed in the Northeast sub-region. That said Evers did much better than Mary Burke did here in 2014. Walker actually won this region by seven points in 2014 compared to Evers seven point win in 2018. A fourteen point swing! Yet, it’s also interesting to see how Evers did better than Clinton in the more working class Southeast sub-region and the City of West Allis.

If I had to pick one municipality to look at it would be the City of South Milwaukee. Clinton only won here by one point and Evers by only two points. If Biden could push that up to around five points, he would in all likelihood be getting a great margin out of this region. If Biden is winning any of Greendale, Greenfield, or Oak Creek is probably winning the state by a strong margin. Trump would like to try to win the blue-collar communities that he nearly won in 2016, including Cudahy, South Milwaukee, and West Allis. If he’s doing that, he’s probably on a path to win by a larger margin than 2016.

No need for a county level breakdown as we are only dealing with Milwaukee County.