(The Center Square) – The political geography in Wisconsin politics is changing.
Tim Michels won the Republican nomination for governor on Tuesday by winning 62 of the state’s 72 counties, most outside the traditional Republican base of southeastern Wisconsin.
“Tim Michels won every region in the state,” noted Common Sense Wisconsin’s Joe Handrick. “The most impressive thing was not the margin, but the breadth of the victory. He performed well across the state.”
Handrick said Michels won the Northwoods region by 19 percent, western Wisconsin by 17 percent, central and northeastern Wisconsin by 3 percent and southern and southeastern Wisconsin by 2%.
Michels defeated Rebecca Kleefisch by a total of 5 percent statewide, or about 35,000 actual votes.
“Michels is winning counties everywhere, while Kleefisch’s strength was limited in area and the wins were modest,” Marquette Law School pollster Charles Franklin said after the election. “Kleefisch underperformed in his past Southeast stronghold, while Michels did well elsewhere. Kleefisch’s small wins were not enough to match Michels’ breadth and some good showings.”
Former Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus said part of that success is due to Michels’ message and part of the success is due to former President Donald Trump.
“Donald Trump changed the map,” Priebus told Jay Weber on News Talk 1130 WISN. “The [Northwoods] before it was a killer for us, we could never win this district. Then eventually Sean Duffy won, Trump came in and this is a red part of the state right now.”
Priebus said the same thing is happening in Racine and Kenosha, Rock County, and Washing County is also changing.
“The WOW county mystique is fine as an analysis for a general election. It doesn’t work for a primary,” Priebus explained. “We saw that [Tuesday] night We saw that in 2018, it started to change in the 2018 general election.”
Priebus also said that Michels, because of his construction business, will be able to further expand the Republican map, in traditionally unionist and Democratic strongholds.
“Rock County, which is a very similar type of place to Racine and Kenosha, to me is a blue-collar, Tim Michels-building, Michels-relatable sense of togetherness,” Priebus added. “This is going to be important across the state.”