How Democrats Fought Back in America’s Most Gerrymandered State

Wisconsin has become famous for being the most gerrymandered state in the U.S. Wisconsin is also crucial to any presidential candidate’s path to the White House. 

The midterm elections were a high-stress event in the important state. 

“I was throwing up with anxiety,” the chair of Wisconsin’s Democratic Party Ben Wikler said. 

Wikler feared that in Wisconsin the Democratic Party was on the brink of permanent minority status, thanks to how the legislative map has been drawn by Republicans. 

Had Democrat Tony Evers lost re-election as governor or had the GOP achieved supermajority control of both houses of Wisconsin’s legislature, Republicans could have exercised total control over the swing state’s levers of power – and ensured that its electoral college votes never again helped Biden or any other Democrat win the White House.

“It’s a state where Republicans have tried to engineer things to make it voter-proof,” Wikler said. “All of that meant that this election cycle, the stakes were explosively high.”

Wisconsin has the most gerrymandered legislative map in the United States. It is designed by Republicans to ensure the GOP has an easy path to capture majorities in the legislature, according to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Wisconsin is the fourth most difficult state in the country for people to exercise their right to cast a ballot, according to the Cost of Voting Index. This is due to strict voter identification requirements and laws that make it practically impossible to conduct voter registration drives. 

Wisconsin’s Republicans are looking to tighten access to polling places further and passed a host of measures to do so, all of which fell to Evers’s veto pen. 

With a supermajority in the legislature, they would have been able to override his vetoes. In a speech to supporters, Tim Michels, the Republican candidate for governor, made it plain that if he was elected, the GOP “will never lose another election” in the state.

If Republicans had unified control of the state government or snagged supermajorities in the state legislature, it would be easy to imagine the scenario where the state rigs things to shut out Biden’s re-election. 

But this did not happen. As the predicted midterms “red wave” collapsed, Evers won re-election, while Wisconsin Democrats narrowly managed to keep Republicans from a supermajority in both houses of the legislature.

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