Scott Walker was elected governor of Wisconsin eight years ago. He’s survived a recall attempt, a reelection bid, a brief flirtation with running for the GOP nomination for president, and years of bitter opposition from Wisconsinites who fought against his hard-line policies on voting rights, health care, education, and the state safety net. He’s led what might be considered the model of a Republican state takeover in the era of Trumpism. And he lost the 2018 election to his Democratic challenger, Tony Evers, by a margin of 1.2 points, a total of just over 30,000 votes.
As the dust settles from the midterm elections and political observers attempt to divine exactly what happened across the country, that result is worth a closer look. In particular, the limited data available on the Wisconsin race suggest that increased turnout among black and Latino voters was one of the biggest shifts from the 2014 midterms to this election. If that indication holds true, it would mean that in a state characterized over the past decade by Walker’s racial politics, and in a country currently facing rising bigotry and voter suppression, minority voters were Scott Walker’s bane.
The early evidence indicates that in 2018, black and Latino voters in Wisconsin were extraordinarily active in the midterm elections. The CNN exit poll of the state gubernatorial race calculates that black voters composed about 9 percent of the electorate, and Latino voters about 4 percent. According to the Census Bureau, black people only make up about 6 percent of the voting-age population in the state, and Hispanic people about 5 percent—although Hispanics compose a smaller percentage of registered voters, about 4 percent. That means that proportionally, black voters significantly outperformed white voters, and Hispanic voters reversed long low-turnout trends. These numbers appear to show higher shares of minority voters than in previous midterms: A CNN exit poll from the 2014 gubernatorial election found that black and Latino voters made up 6 and 3 percent of the electorate, respectively.