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“Joe Biden has won Wisconsin and its 10 electoral votes, moving the former vice president within shot of the presidency depending on the outcome in just a few remaining swing states.
Biden won the state by just over 20,500 votes, or about six-tenths of 1%, a nearly identical margin then-candidate Donald Trump won the state in 2016. Shortly before the Associated Press called the state for Biden, the Trump campaign vowed to “immediately” request a recount in Wisconsin.
“Despite ridiculous public polling used as a voter suppression tactic, Wisconsin has been a razor thin race as we always knew that it would be,” Bill Stepien, Trump campaign manager, said in a statement.
Stepien claimed there have been “reports of irregularities in several Wisconsin counties which raise serious doubts about the validity of the results” but did not elaborate.
Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe did not respond to the campaign’s remarks but said the election process followed state laws, which do not permit the counting of absentee ballots before Election Day and allow municipalities to count absentee ballots to be counted at a central location, which results in late updates to the totals.
“There are no dark corners or locked doors in elections,” Wolfe said in a press briefing Wednesday morning. “Anybody was free to watch those processes as they unfolded yesterday.”
Attention now turns to other key swing states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, where votes are still being counted.
With all but one of Wisconsin’s 3,689 precincts reporting, Biden notched a 50% lead over Trump, who got 49%. The number of voters in this election, about 3.3 million, set an all-time record for the state, while the turnout as a percentage of the estimated voting-age population was about 72.5%, just shy of the all-time record of 73.2% turnout in 2004.
Either way, turnout is substantially higher than in 2016, when about 3 million, or 67% of voting age Wisconsinites cast a ballot.
The margin is hauntingly similar to Trump’s roughly 22,000 vote margin of victory in 2016, but in reverse.
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Both candidates received higher percentages of support than Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton did in 2016. However, Biden’s improved performance in Dane and Milwaukee Counties is helping carry him over the threshold in Wisconsin.
For most of Tuesday night and early Wednesday Trump retained a consistent lead in early returns. But that lead evaporated when the totals from Democratic-leaning absentee ballots were accounted for in the state’s urban centers of Milwaukee and Green Bay.
Kenosha County delivered its final unofficial vote totals as dawn was breaking shortly after 6 a.m.
Still, election officials caution election night results are unofficial and need to be certified by municipal, county and state officials before they can become valid.
With most unofficial tallies compiled in counties across the state, an analysis of the totals shows both Trump and Biden logging greater percentages of the vote than in 2016, signifying a decline in support for third party candidates.
The results, however, also show weakening support for Trump in the strongly conservative Milwaukee suburbs that helped bring him over the edge in 2016. In Waukesha County, for example, Trump garnered 59.75% of the vote this year, compared to 60% in 2016.
Biden managed to improve upon 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s margins there. He got 39% of the vote compared to Clinton’s 33%.
The vote totals in Ozaukee County, another conservative stronghold outside Milwaukee, tell a similar story. Trump’s support there dropped by about a half a percentage point, while Biden’s improved 6% over Clinton.
As some expected, the Democratic stronghold of Dane County managed to hand Biden greater margins (a 5 percentage point increase) — and a greater raw vote total — than it did for Clinton. Biden ended up getting 260,157 votes in the county, compared to 217,697 for Clinton.
Tuesday’s election cements Wisconsin’s status as the state to watch to presidential elections.
Three of the past five presidential elections in Wisconsin were decided by less than 1 percentage point. Trump, in 2016, was the first Republican presidential candidate to win the state since 1984. Polls leading up to the election had shown Biden with a larger lead, just as they had for Clinton four years earlier.
In 2000, Al Gore won Wisconsin by just 5,708 votes over George W. Bush, a difference of just 0.22%. Trump’s win in 2016 was 0.77% and was subject to a recount requested by the Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
In that recount, Clinton gained 713 votes, and Trump picked up 844, resulting in a net increase for Trump of 131 votes.
Wisconsin decided the 2016 presidential election and both campaigns made it a focus this year. Trump made four stops in Wisconsin in the final 10 days of the race, while Biden came once.
Overall turnout looked to be nearly 3.2 million, which would be the highest ever in Wisconsin. The previous high was slightly over 3 million in 2012.”
Excerpted from the Wisconsin State Journal.
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