Two Days Later...
I know many of you are wondering what's next and want to understand better what has taken place, so I wanted to offer at least a brief update.
I personally am just beginning to reflect on what happened after a day of putting aside my own feelings and responding to media inquiries. Around the office, our staff is also just beginning to reflect on what we accomplished and what we ultimately could not accomplish. We also have huge piles of paper, food, and other debris scattered across our 10 offices. Today we're focusing on cleaning up and beginning to close our out-state offices.
The organizations who formed Fair Wisconsin, Action Wisconsin and Center Advocates, will take the next several weeks to assess the campaign, seek input from our supporters, and begin to lay plans for the next steps. We remain fully committed to fairness and equality for all LGBT Wisconsinites and our families. We are hoping that our statewide supporters will continue to work with us as we forge ahead.
Details about election results are still emerging, but here is some information we have so far.
Although we didn't win, it's clear Fair Wisconsin's get out the vote operation had a significant impact on elections statewide, even according to conservative U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner. From today's Spivak & Bice column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Overall, two counties had majority "no" votes: Dane County and La Crosse County. We don't yet have the breakdown by city, but here's a list of the counties with the highest percentages of "no" votes:
It sounded like a good idea at the time.
Get the proposed same-sex marriage constitutional amendment on the November ballot to drive up the Republican vote while driving Democrats out of office. The plan worked for President Bush two years ago, particularly in Ohio. So why wouldn't it do the same in Wisconsin this year, the GOP brass reasoned.
Welcome to the real world.
"The timing ended up backfiring," said U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Menomonee Falls Republican. "I think the opposite worked out this time."
But the measure clearly had an unintended consequence by sparking a larger-than-expected turnout, especially among left-leaning college students, who flooded their campus polling places.
The result: Dems scored some unexpected gains in the Statehouse.
In the Assembly, Republicans lost as many as eight seats, reducing the GOP's once formidable control of the house to what now appears to be a 52-47 margin. Five of the new Democratic legislators were elected in districts that include University of Wisconsin campuses. Among those expelled was Colleges and Universities Chairman Rob Kreibich, who represents UW-Eau Claire.
Democrats gained control of the Senate by knocking out four Republicans, including longtime Sen. David Zien, who also represents UW-Eau Claire.
If you can win by losing, score one for Fair Wisconsin, the well-funded grass-roots group that led the unsuccessful fight against the amendment. In his victory speech, Gov. Jim Doyle, who scored his own impressive seven-point victory over U. S. Rep. Mark Green, also put a spotlight on the group, thanking it for its efforts.
Even Republican honchos begrudgingly credited Fair Wisconsin Wednesday for a strong get-out-the-vote effort that helped Democrats up and down the ticket.
Just how surprised were the GOP bosses by the turnout?
Before the election, their data concluded that Green needed 940,000 votes to unseat Doyle. In the end, Green topped that goal by 36,000 votes, yet he will soon be out of work.
"Usually, if you exceed your vote goal," said Republican Party executive director Rick Wiley, "you win."
So much for conventional wisdom.
The turnout was most impressive on college campuses
Dane - 67%
La Crosse - 50%
Iowa - 49%
Portage - 48%
Eau Claire - 48%
Menominee - 47%
Green - 46%
Milwaukee - 45%
Rock - 44%
Sauk - 43%
Bayfield - 42%
Dunn - 41%
Oneida - 41%
Kenosha - 41%
Door - 41%