Why AP called Wisconsin's statewide ballot measures: Race call explained

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press was able to determine that voters in Wisconsin had approved two constitutional amendments limiting how state elections are run and paid for after the measures supported by Republicans in the state outperformed former President Donald Trump’s 2020 performance, even in largely Democratic−leaning parts of the state.

The AP determined that Question 2, which limits who can serve as election officials, passed at 9:41 p.m. ET, when votes to approve the measure led with 56% of the vote. Opposition to the measure was at about 44% of the vote when the race was called. The AP declared at 9:45 p.m. ET that a separate measure, Question 1, which bars the use of private donations and grants in running state elections, also passed. Support for that measure was at about 52% of the vote when the race was called, compared to about 48% for the opposition. The outcome of two measures was determined based on initial vote results from 22 of the state’s 72 counties for Question 2 and 29 counties for Question 1.

The results generally tracked the overall partisan split in other statewide elections, with voters in traditionally Republican−voting areas largely supporting the amendments while those in Democratic areas were largely opposed. Republicans in the state legislature backed both measures, while Democrats were opposed. Of the areas that had reported votes at the time the races were called, the “Yes” vote for both measures was leading in almost every county that former President Donald Trump carried in 2020, as well as several counties that President Joe Biden carried.

For Question 2, the “Yes” vote was outperforming Trump’s 2020 results in every county, while the “Yes” vote for Question 1 was ahead of Trump’s 2020 vote in 23 of the 29 counties reporting results at the time of the call.

As expected, the “Yes” vote for both measures was far ahead in Trump’s best counties and the “No” vote was ahead in Biden’s best counties. But supporters of the measures made significant inroads in Democratic−friendly areas. At the time the races were called, supporters of both measures were leading in counties that Biden carried in 2020 with between 50% and 60% of the vote. Question 2, which was ahead by a larger statewide margin, was also ahead in counties Biden carried with between 60% and 70% of the vote.

In order for the measures to be defeated, the “No” votes would have needed to follow an electoral path similar to that of Biden in 2020, when he racked up huge margins in the two most populous counties, Milwaukee and Dane, as well as winning over more competitive swing areas. However, at the time the race was called, supporters of Question 1 were ahead in five of the seven Biden counties that had reported results. Opponents were ahead in Milwaukee and Dane but were trailing far behind Biden’s 2020 performance. Supporters of Question 2 were ahead in Milwaukee, making it impossible for opponents to overtake the lead.

Robert Yoon, The Associated Press

Photo: AP