Gov. Scott Walker said this afternoon that the spring election results show there are "two very different worlds in this state."
"You've got a world driven by Madison, and a world driven by everybody else out across the majority of the rest of the state of Wisconsin," Walker said at a press conference in the Capitol.
Walker added that Justice Prosser's performance in many parts of the state bodes well for GOP senators who may face recall elections later this year.
"For those who believe it's a referendum, while it might have a statewide impact that we may lean one way or the other, it's largely driven by Madison, and to a lesser extent Milwaukee," the governor said. "But those Senate recall elections on both the Democrat and Republican side aren't being held in Madison, they aren't being held in Milwaukee."
The problem is that this doesn't actually tell the story of yesterday's contest at all. While Madison and (to a lesser extent) Milwaukee are key Democratic strongholds, it is not those two cities versus the rest of the state. Much the opposite: it's those two cities versus Milwaukee's suburbs, with the rest of the state being far more swingy than one might expect.
Look at this results map. Obviously, large chunks of Kloppenburg's margins came from Milwaukee and Madison (Dane County), though actually the bluest parts of the state are in the northwest corner. Meanwhile, the darkest red swaths are Ozaukee, Washington, and Waukesha counties -- the Milwaukee suburbs. Beyond that, the divide is not Madison versus the rest of the state, but east and west -- the eastern part of the state being more conservative, the western portions more liberal.
And while Walker's right that the recall elections aren't occurring in Madison, they're not occurring in Waukesha either. None of the five most vulnerable Republican state senators -- the five with re-elects under 50% -- are anywhere near Milwaukee. Dan Kapanke's district is in southwest Wisconsin, anchored in LaCrosse -- a pretty blue area. Self-inflicted wounds notwithstanding, Randy Hopper's geographically in good shape, with the help of the GOP stronghold of Fond du Lac. Luther Olson is right on the border of where red meets blue, with conservative Waushara and Waupaca counties alongside more liberal climes in Columbia and Sauk counties. Shawano, Outagamie, and Brown counties are all red, which is good news for Rob Cowles, but Sheila Harsdorf is like Olson in that her district straddles a red/blue divide (here, where Pierce and Dunn counties meet St. Croix and Polk, plus Burnett).
This isn't to say this is terrible terrain for the GOP (except for Kapanke, who may well be toast). But just as Democrats aren't operating out of their home base in Madison, Republicans aren't on their strongest Milwaukee metro turf either. If Walker thinks he can chalk this race up to Madison saving the liberal day, he's got another thing coming.