Democrats hope Biden could get a boost from down-ballot races under Wisconsin’s new legislative map

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US Sen Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., speaks during a press event on Capitol Hill, on Feb 27, in Washington. (AP)

MADISON, Wis, April 1, (AP): Wisconsin’s presidential primary Tuesday clears the way for a general election campaign that Democrats see as an opportunity unlike any in recent state history.
New legislative districts adopted last month erase Republican advantages that gave the GOP dominance of the Wisconsin Assembly even as Democrats won 14 of the past 17 statewide elections. Democrats think they can now compete for a majority, but also that invigorated legislative campaigns can help turn out votes for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in November.
Ben Wikler, the state Democratic Party chairman, describes the idea as “reverse coattails,” a play on the traditional idea that down-ballot candidates are carried by the top of the ticket.
“It drives up turnout among people who had been unlikely to vote in a way that can directly affect the number of votes we get for Biden-Harris,” he said. “It’s why, I think, there are consequences far beyond the state Legislature of having the new state legislative maps drawn.”
It’s too early to test Wikler’s idea. But both parties believe the fall rematch between Biden and former Republican President Donald Trump will be fought at the margins in several of the most contested states, including Wisconsin, which flipped narrowly from Trump to Biden four years ago.
The Assembly speaker, Republican Robin Vos, whose job it is to recruit and elect GOP candidates to maintain the party’s majority in the Statehouse, rejected the Democratic premise.
“Absolutely not,” said Vos, the state’s longest-serving speaker. “Everybody who goes to vote is going to be voting on the presidential race because that’s where all the oxygen is going to be.”
The Democrats argue there will be renewed personal attention to neighborhoods in small towns, suburbs and rural areas that had been part of GOP-heavy legislative seats but are now in more competitive districts. Those districts were seen as not worth the effort before, when Democrats’ only hope was to stave off veto-proof GOP majorities. Now, they will get more campaign staff and volunteers to drive turnout.

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