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April Election Updates

April 19, 2023 4:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Election Updates

By Marilyn Go, Jim Harbison and Ryan O’Connell

We highlight below the results of two elections that we have mentioned in the past few months as presenting opportunities to volunteer to promote voter engagement.


Judicial elections in the United States rarely garner much interest. However, the special election for Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice held on April 4, 2023 was closely followed by political pundits, politicians and voters nationwide. Although this was ostensibly a non‐partisan election, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will be evenly split between liberals and conservatives 3 to 3 after the retirement of conservative Justice Patience Roggensack.

The result: Janet Protasiewicz, described as a liberal County Circuit judge from Milwaukee, defeated her conservative challenger, Daniel Kelly, by almost 11 percentage points (54.5 to 44.5 percent). Kelly, a former prosecutor, had previously been appointed by Governor Scott Walker to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to serve the remainder of a ten-year term of another judge. However, he did not win re‐election in 2020.

Political commentators have opined that this election may be a bellwether for the 2024 presidential election, because Wisconsin is a battleground state and because voters have increasingly viewed judicial elections through a more partisan lens. President Biden won the Wisconsin vote over former President Trump by only a 0.63 percent margin, far less than predicted, while Trump carried the state in 2016 by 0.77 percent over Hillary Clinton.

The importance of this election is perhaps best reflected by the stunning amount of money raised and the voter turnout. The two candidates combined spent about $45 million. That amount was almost triple the previous $15.2 million record spent for a judicial election, in a race for the Illinois Supreme Court. Significantly, more than 1.7 million Wisconsin voters cast their ballots, surpassing the 1.6 million citizens participating in the 2020 Presidential election.

The change in the make-up of the Supreme Court may have an impact on a number of significant issues that are currently or will be brought before it. These issues include abortion rights, voting access, redistricting, and legislation enacted by Gov. Walker effectively eliminating collective bargaining for most public employees.

The right to an abortion was a major point of contention in the election. Protasiewicz and Kelly took conflicting positions on Wisconsin's 1849 law banning abortions, which was automatically reinstated after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. That law permits abortions to save a mother’s life, but does not allow exceptions for rape or incest.

The redistricting maps drawn by the Republican legislature have also been challenged. Wisconsin is a “purple state,” with voters evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. However, the state electoral districts drawn have been described as “among the most gerrymandered in the nation, a result of aggressive cartography from the Republican majority elected in 2010,” which, despite “a Democratic sweep of statewide elections,” enabled Republicans to retain a 19-to-14 majority in the State Senate and 63-to-36 majority in the Assembly. ( Liptak, Adam. “Supreme Court Sides With Republicans in Case on Wisconsin Redistricting.” New York Times. 23 March 2022.) Republicans also hold six of the eight Wisconsin seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Republican State Senator Dan Knodl, who also was elected on April 4, indicated before his election that he was open to impeachment of Protasiewicz. With Knodl’s election as State Senator, Republicans now have a super-majority in the State Senate. (Roche, Darragh. “Janet Protasiewicz May Be Impeached by GOP After Wisconsin Election Win.” Newsweek. 5 April 2023.)


Democrat Jennifer McClellan won the special election on February 21, 2023 for Virginia’s 4th Congressional District. She will succeed the late U.S. Rep. A. Donald McEachin, who died in November at age 61 after winning reelection. McClellan, a state senator, is the first Black woman to represent the Commonwealth of Virginia in Congress and will serve the remainder of Rep. McEachin’s fourth term.

Latinos Still Lean Heavily Democratic

By J. Ryan O’Connell ‘73

Hispanic Americans overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party rather than the Republican Party. Sixty percent of Latinos say the Democrats “represent them well”, compared to 34 percent for Republicans. That split is consistent among age groups, education levels and gender (but not all groups of national origin).

Furthermore, the Republican Party has a serious image problem with Hispanics, with two-thirds saying the Republican Party “does not really care” about them. The numbers cited here are drawn from Most Latinos Say Democrats Care About Them, Pew Research Center, Sep. 29, 2022.

However, the Democratic Party cannot take Latinos’ support for granted. A third of Hispanics think the Democrats do not represent their interests well. And close to 50 percent don’t see much difference between the two parties. Nonetheless, although former President Donald Trump won a larger share of the Hispanic vote in 2020 than in 2016, the talk about a big shift of Hispanics to the Republican Party in the 2022 midterms appears to be hype.

Latinos are attracted to the Democrats because of the party’s more liberal approach toward immigration, of course. But most Hispanics also share Democratic positions on key cultural issues such as abortion and gun control.

Almost 60 percent of Latinos say abortion should be legal in some cases, which is close to overall public opinion in the U.S; 40 percent oppose it. That 60/40 split holds true for Hispanic Catholics, who represent almost half of Latinos. Not surprisingly, 70 percent of Hispanic evangelicals oppose abortion rights. However, evangelicals constitute only 15 percent of Latinos.

Hispanics firmly oppose the expansion of gun rights. This is not a group that on the whole supports permitless carry or eliminating background checks. A striking 73 percent of Latinos want more stringent gun controls, while only 26 percent favor greater gun rights. This is in sharp contrast with the overall public, which is divided roughly 50/50 on this issue.

Cubans are a distinct political group among Latinos. About 60 percent lean Republican, probably because many families suffered under the Communist regime in Cuba (Most Cuban American voters identified as Republican in 2020, Pew Research Center, Oct. 2, 2020). The Cubans are concentrated in Florida, where they are very influential politically. They hold conservative views and abhor anything labeled “socialism.”

Still, Cubans represent only five percent of Hispanics in the United States. Mexican-Americans, the dominant group, are 56 percent of Latinos. In the 2022 midterms, they preferred Democratic candidates over Republican by 58 to 25 percent. Puerto Ricans are the next largest, at 14 percent. Dominicans, Salvadorans, and other national-origin groups represent less than five percent of Hispanics.

About half of Latinos say it is very important to establish a way for most immigrants who currently live in the United States illegally to stay here legally. However, 42% think that increasing border security is also very important. Sixty percent of Cubans give priority to increasing border security rather than finding a pathway to legal status for current illegal immigrants.

ClassACT HR ‘73

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