LIVE BLOG: Senate Race remains too close to call
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Election Day has arrived. Months filled with campaign stops, debates, and non-stop political ads have led to today. On Tuesday, voters – at least those who did not go early – headed to polling places across Wisconsin to pick the candidates who will lead the state for the next four years and a senator whose vote could be critical in the coming years.
With so much on the line, NBC15 News will be tracking all of those races, as well as key sheriff’s races, a slew of school funding referenda, and even advisory votes on marijuana and abortion law in Wisconsin. All day Tuesday and throughout the night, we will be updating this blog with the latest election coverage.
Campaign: Barnes will not speak during watch party
Barnes campaign staff said the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate would not be speaking early Wednesday morning at his watch party. Things were wrapping up just after 1 a.m. Wednesday.
Sen. Johnson addresses supporters
Sen. Ron Johnson told supporters around 1 a.m. that he was confident in the results so far, but wouldn’t declare victory until all the numbers were in.
Gov Tony Evers accepts victory
Gov Tony Evers took the stage around 12:45 a.m. to accept his victory.
“Holy mackerel folks how about that!”
Evers supporters celebrate Michels’ concession
Attendees at Gov. Tony Evers’ watch party cheered as they learned about Republican opponent Tim Michels’ concession speech.
Tim Michels concedes to Gov. Tony Evers
Around 12:20 a.m. Wednesday, Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels has conceded to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in the battleground state.
Michels conceded early Wednesday morning with more than 90% of the expected vote counted. Evers held a 3-point lead. The Associated Press has not yet called the race.
Michels is a construction company co-owner who was backed by former President Donald Trump. He campaigned as a political outsider and wanted to do away with the state’s bipartisan elections commission.
The race was the most expensive in state history and a key one for Democrats ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
Clock strikes midnight with no results in governor, U.S. Senate race
Evers gains votes in Dane Co.
Dane County Clerk Scott McDonnell reported around 11:45 p.m. that Gov. Evers will have gained votes this year as compared to 2018. As of midnight Wednesday, 99.6% of precincts in Dane County are reporting results.
Associated Press: Bryan Steil projected winner
Republican Bryan Steil is the projected winner in the race for U.S. House in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, according to the Associated Press.
Last voter at Town of Middleton polling place submits ballot
Three hours after the polls closed in Wisconsin, the last person in line at the Town of Middleton town hall has submitted their ballot.
The voter, Heather, said earlier that she would be waiting in line for as long as it took to submit her ballot.
She also got to take home a box of pizza after someone donated them to the polling place.
One voter who was in the line said they’ve voted here for 15 years and had never seen so many people in line.
Social media users are sharing a video claiming it shows a masked man “cheating” in front of cameras at a Philadelphia polling site. But the original video shows a poll worker in Madison, Wisconsin, initialing ballots to be handed out to voters on Tuesday.
The misleading video removed the label identifying it as being shot in Madison. Nick Custodio, deputy commissioner with Philadelphia’s elections board, told the AP that Philadelphia does not use paper voting booths like those in the video, noting that the “I voted” stickers in the video do not match those used by the city.
Town of Middleton line finally gets indoors
Around 10:20 p.m., the long line at the Town of Middleton polling place made it indoors.
Associated Press: Mark Pocan projected winner
Mark Pocan is the projected winner in the U.S. House race for Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District, preliminary results from the Associated Press indicate. Pocan has held that seat since 2013.
AP has also called races, projecting that incumbents Tom Tiffany (7th Congressional District), Gwen Moore (4th Congressional District) and Mike Gallagher (8th District) will all retain their seats.
About a half hour later, AP also called Republican incumbent Scott Fitzgerald as the projected winner for the U.S. House in Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District.
Senate campaigns watch a razor thin race
Down to the wire
More than 1.6 million votes have been counted as of 9:50 p.m. and less than 2,000 votes separate incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes in the race for Senate.
Lines remain long at Town of Middleton polling location
The last voter in line said they would be in line all night as long as their vote was cast.
Spirits high at Johnson campaign
Sen. Johnson’s campaign said around 9:30 p.m. that they are looking for a high voter turnout in rural communities and expecting a low turnout in Milwaukee County.
Room swells with Barnes supporters
Around 9:20 p.m. with just under 50% of the votes in, Barnes leads 51.1% to Johnson’s 48.9%.
Johnson greets guests
Polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday and election results started to trickle in about 20 minutes later.
Long wait times
Some Wisconsin voters are facing long wait times at the ballot box. One report to NBC15 indicates people were lined up at one location in the Town of Middleton for three hours to cast their ballots.
Processing absentee votes
The Wisconsin Election Commission has not indicated yet what it expects voter turnout to be this year. However, Dane Co. Clerk Scott McDonell has made a predication for his county, saying he expects 85% of registered voters to have cast a ballot when all is said and done.
Statewide, over 815,000 absentee ballots were requested and over 741,000 have been returned so far, election officials say. WEC Chief Election Official Meagan Wolfe noted her staff has found voters are especially engaged this year, and many of the most interested have opted to vote absentee.
“I think over the last two years as we seen there is an increase in the number of absentee ballots and especially for our central counter jurisdictions, they have a lot of ballots to process,” she said. But they have the last two years to continue to make the process more efficient.”
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes watch party
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes’ campaign said the result of the election will come down to voter turnout.
Lines get longer in Fitchburg
Around 4 p.m. in Fitchburg, the lines continued to get longer. Around that time, officials confirmed 2,391 votes had been counted so far in-person and absentee.
Armed man arrested at West Bend polling place
An armed man was taken into custody in West Bend early Tuesday afternoon after he demanded election workers at one of the polling locations “stop the voting,” the city’s police department reported.
The man allegedly went into the West Bend Community Library around 12:30 p.m. carrying a knife and wanting to disrupt the election. Library staff called police who were able to detain him without further incident, the police statement continued.
Gubernatorial watch parties
Gov. Tony Evers will host his watch party in downtown Madison.
Republican candidate Tim Michels will host his watch party in Milwaukee.
- Juliana Tornabene
Sen. Ron Johnson campaign watch party
Sen. Ron Johnson will spend the evening watching election results roll in at Best Western Premier Bridgewood Resort Hotel in Neenah.
Johnson cast his ballot Tuesday morning at the Oshkosh Town Hall. On Oct. 25, the first day of early voting in Wisconsin, Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes casted his in-person absentee ballot at the Clinton Rose Center in Milwaukee.
Big turnout in Dane Co.
The Madison Clerk’s Office reports more than 47,000 ballots have already been counted, which makes up more than a quarter of the city’s registered voters going into the day.
Dane Co. Clerk Scott McDonnell reported in a midday update that there have been no major issues or unusual problems so far on Election Day.
Many clerks have noted high turnout at their locations, he added. McDonnell projected the Dane Co. will see 85% voter turnout by the end of the day.
Wisconsin’s two gubernatorial candidates headed to the polls Tuesday morning.
More long lines
In Fitchburg, people were lining up outside the city’s Community and Senior Center, one of city’s five polling locations. Poll workers told NBC15 News’ Gabriella Rusk that they were busy all morning and the pace has only picked up as midday approached.
Kaul feeling “upbeat” about election
The race between Attorney General Josh Kaul and Fond du Lac district attorney will likely go down to the wire, the incumbent conceded as he voted Tuesday morning. Kaul predicted the tight finish but noted his win four years ago was also a narrow one, topping then Attorney General Brad Schimel by less than a single point.
“But at the end of the day, we’re going to have results here. It’s going to be critical that folks come together and keep working to move Wisconsin forward,” Kaul said, adding that he is “upbeat” on the campaign.
More looks at voting polling places
As voting continues across Wisconsin - and the nation - here’s another glimpse of how it’s going around here.
Former SEAL seeks to flip House seat
Republican Derrick Van Orden went before voters hoping to flip a western Wisconsin congressional seat to the GOP — and win a spot in the House less than two years after he was nearby on the day that insurrectionists violently breached the building. Van Orden is among a handful of people who were in Washington the day of the Jan. 6 insurrection and are now running for Congress.
The former Navy SEAL has denied taking any part, but Democrat Brad Pfaff argued to voters that his presence should be disqualifying. The seat is open for the first time since longtime Democratic Rep. Ron Kind chose to retire. Van Orden narrowly lost to Kind two years ago.
-Associated Press, Todd Richmond
Republicans eye veto-proof majorities
Republicans who control Wisconsin’s Legislature are just a handful of seats away from winning a veto-proof majority Tuesday, a threshold that would allow the GOP to rewrite state law at will even if Democratic Gov. Tony Evers wins reelection.
Republicans need to flip five seats in the Assembly and just one in the Senate to gain a two-thirds majority in each chamber. With enough votes to override any gubernatorial veto, the GOP could again seek to reshape election administration to their advantage in a key battleground state after Evers turned back their earlier attempts to do so.
They also could revise the law to clarify that Wisconsin’s 173-year-old ban is indeed in effect after the U.S. Supreme Court this past summer invalidated Roe vs. Wade, the landmark decision that essentially legalized abortion across the country. Democrats say the ban is so old it’s unenforceable.
They would be able to write the next state budget to their liking, shifting dollars to conservative priorities like voucher schools and advancing tax cuts. They could expand the right to carry concealed weapons and impose more restrictions on unemployment benefits as well as the government’s ability to respond to COVID-19.
-Associated Press; Todd Richmond
VOTERS ARE LINING UP
An hour into voting and people are lining up to cast their ballots. At this polling place in Oregon, voters are being told there is a 30-45-minute wait to cast their ballots.
GOP looks to win U.S. House & Senate
Energized Republicans are eager to claw back power in Congress, working to break the Democrats’ one-party hold in Washington and putting the future of President Joe Biden’s agenda at stake this Election Day.
With the narrowly held House and an evenly split Senate, Democrats could easily see their fragile grasp on power slip as they face a new generation of Republican candidates. Among them are political newcomers to public office, including skeptics, deniers of the 2020 election and some extremists inspired by Donald Trump. They could bring a new intensity to Capitol Hill with promises to end Biden’s once lofty ideas and launch investigations and oversight — even, potentially, impeachment of Biden.
Tuesday brings the first major national elections since the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, and emotions are raw. The violent assault on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband has stunned many, and federal law enforcement is warning of heightened threats nationwide. Biden’s party is laboring to hold on by the most tenuous of margins.
All 435 seats in the House and one-third of the Senate are being contested. If Republican newcomers help the party seize control of the House, and possibly the Senate, the outcome will pose new challenges for Congress’ ability to govern.
- Associated Press; Lisa Mascaro and Mary Clare Jalonick
Trump Big Announcement
Former President Donald Trump said Monday he will be making a “big announcement” next week as he teased a third presidential run while campaigning on the eve of the final day of voting in this year’s midterm elections.
“I’m going to be making a very big announcement on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at Mar-a-Lago,” Trump said before a cheering crowd in Vandalia, Ohio, Monday night, where he was holding his final rally of the midterm season to bolster Senate candidate JD Vance.
Trump explained that he wanted “nothing to detract from the importance of tomorrow,” even after he had sparked a frantic effort to hold him off after he had told people he was considering officially launching his next campaign Monday night at the rally.
-Associated Press, Jill Colvin
Tumultuous Campaign Season Ends
A tumultuous election season that tugged again at America’s searing political divides and raised questions about its commitment to a democratic future comes to a close on Tuesday as voters cast ballots in the first national election of Joe Biden’s presidency.
With polls open, Democrats were braced for disappointing results, anxious that their grip on the U.S. House may be slipping and that their hold on the U.S. Senate — once seen as more secure — has loosened. The party’s incumbent governors in places like Wisconsin, Michigan and Nevada are also staring down serious Republican challengers.
- Associated Press, Will Weissert
Wall-to-Wall Wisconsin coverage
Starting at 8 p.m., the entire NBC15 News team and a host of experts will offer in-depth analysis of the statewide races and the ones that matter most in southern Wisconsin nearly everywhere you would want to watch: on your smart TV, on NBC15.com, in our app, and on Facebook or YouTube.
Full midterm Decision 2022 coverage with NBC15 News’ team coverage of local and state races joined by NBC News’ coverage of national races will still be available on our WMTV-TV channel and on cable.
To watch our wall-to-wall coverage of Wisconsin races, simply:
- Download the WMTV app for your Roku, AppleTV, or Amazon Fire device and click on the live stream starting at 8 p.m.
- Download the WMTV app for iPhone, iPad, or Android devices and click on the live stream tile
- Visit our Facebook or YouTube page
- Watch live on NBC15.com
Kaul vs. Toney
Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul is hoping to fend off Republican Eric Toney for a second term as Wisconsin’s top law enforcement official. It’s a critical race in battleground Wisconsin, one of the many states nationwide where both parties have turned to attorneys general over the last decade to challenge the other side’s policies in state and federal court. Kaul is a former federal prosecutor and Toney is the current Fond du Lac County prosecutor.
Kaul has built his campaign around his opposition to the state’s 173-year-old abortion ban. He’s also questioned whether Toney would use the attorney general’s office to ensure Donald Trump wins the state in 2024. Toney has attacked Kaul on crime.
-Associated Press; Todd Richmond
Schools on the Ballot
There are 81 referendum questions regarding public schools on ballots around the state — including 24 districts in our viewing area.
Oregon School District Superintendent Dr. Leslie Bergstrom and Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District Superintendent Dr. Dana Monogue sat down with NBC15 on Thursday to preview some of the referenda in the area, and what they mean. Dr. Bergstrom and Dr. Monogue break down what the referenda address specifically, and what’s at stake as we approach the midterm election on November 8.
Final Campaign Numbers
The gubernatorial campaigns filed the final campaign finance reports before Election Day with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission last week. The latest reports detail spending from September 1 through October 24.
Evers’ campaign reported nearly $37 million in spending so far in 2022, outspending his Republican challenger by $12.5 million on the year. During the latest filed period, the Tony for Wisconsin campaign has received over $6 million in contributions from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and various other groups and organizations. The Michels’ campaign has spent nearly $25 million in the last seven months in the gubernatorial run. The Republican Party of Wisconsin and other committees, have also generated funding for the Michels’ campaign, contributing $3.3 million so far this year.
Final MU Poll
The race for Wisconsin’s governor’s seat could not get any closer, literally. The final poll by Marquette University’s Law School found the top two candidates in a dead heat. Both Gov. Tony Evers and challenger Tim Michels claimed support of 48% of likely voters going into Tuesday’s election. The poll ended a several month trend that saw the GOP candidate wipe away the seven-point edge Evers held over the summer.
Evers’ lieutenant governor Mandela Barnes, however, found some good news in the final poll, which showed him nearly erasing the six-point lead incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson had built. In the three-week gap between the October and early November results, Barnes had reduced his deficit to two points and now trailed by a 50-48 margin.
None of the four candidates proved particularly popular amongst voters. Three of them - Evers, Johnson, and Barnes -were all underwater in terms of favorability, MU found. The remaining candidate, Michels, did not fare much better, though, splitting those who had an opinion of him.
- Nick Viviani
Voting Across the Aisle
Both Democrats and Republicans are confident they can win the November mid-term elections because they claim they have each poached voters from regions where, traditionally, they do not have a lot of support.
Political experts are skeptical and point to different factors making a difference. History has shown where a voter lives is a major factor in determining who they might vote for. Recently, voters in rural counties have supported more conservative candidates while voters in urban areas have backed liberal candidates.
Now the two main political parties say they are making inroads to attract voters from the other’s base.
All eyes are on the Badger State this week, with the race between incumbent Senator Ron Johnson and Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes drawing national attention as one of the races that could help decide which parties will control the upper chamber for the rest of President Joe Biden’s term. Thirty-five Senate seats are up for grabs. Democrats need to win 14 to hold power, while Republicans need to take 22 seats to reclaim the majority. The battle is expected to be close with Wisconsin one of the likely deciding factors.
In Wisconsin, both parties are eyeing their own paths to power. Democrats look to hang onto Wisconsin’s top statewide elected positions, in the face of an assembly that will most certainly remain in GOP hands. Meanwhile, Republicans see a chance to take supermajorities in both chambers that would make overriding potential vetoes by Gov. Tony Evers, should he be reelected. A win by Evers opponent, Tim Michels, would likely give Republicans a clear path to implement their agenda.
clarification: Entries attributed to Associated Press and its authors are excerpts of their articles. Links to full stories provided below the entry.
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