Battleground State (by: Elliot Karp)

This 2012 presidential election puts the state of Wisconsin in the political spotlight once again as the battleground state’s vote is coming down to the wire. After the Democrats unsuccessfully tried to recall Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin quickly turned from a state that would seem to vote democratic for a seventh consecutive election into a swing state.

While writing my story on why Wisconsin is considered a battleground state in the 2012 election, I became much more informed about the election as a whole. Wisconsin is a state that both candidates are trying to control because in doing so, it can mean that other swing states, like, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio and Idaho can follow suit. This in turn will provide a huge boost for the respective candidate and can propel the candidate towards winning the election. After interviewing Professor David Canon of the UW-Madison Political Science Department and Dr. John Buenker, an Emeritus Professor at UW-Parkside and renowned Wisconsin historian, I learned how complex the Wisconsin political system is on the state level. It is not right to believe that Wisconsin is a Democratic state simply because it has voted Democratic the last six elections.

In fact, Wisconsin is a state that had only been decided by a few thousand votes the past two elections. Now, it is quickly taking more of a Republican form after Walker took office. Leading up to the 1960s, Wisconsin practically had four different parties, which included the Progressives and Socialists. So, to define Wisconsin as solely Democratic should not be the case. It is a battleground state this election, but will have much more impact in future elections.
It was rewarding researching why Wisconsin is a battleground state and its impact on this election. After researching and interviewing professionals, I became aware that if Romney and Ryan can control Wisconsin, then they are seen to be favorites to win nationally. However, if Obama and Biden win Wisconsin, they will still have more work to do because other states may not follow the Democratic form. Both candidates are spending money in Wisconsin and urging their base groups to get out and vote. Obama is urging the urban areas for his support, while Romney is pressing the rural areas. Experts believe that whichever base turns out a higher number of voters will win the election.
So, what did I learn from all of this? Politics are not as simple as I thought or as I imagined. Just because a state votes Democratic for consecutive years nationally, the state government can influence opinion in the next election and state can quickly become a swing state. The fight for Wisconsin’s ten electoral votes is more heated than ever and can change the course of history. This project has really allowed me to feel comfortable reporting on an issue that I do not have immediate knowledge about. I could not have picked a more interesting and important topic to research and report on for this website.

–Eliot Karp

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