Polls around Madison and Dane County closed at 8 p.m. on Tuesday evening, bringing to an end the 2008 Wisconsin presidential primary election. Now the counting, projections, and analysis begins, as campaign supporters, along with the handful of primary candidates for the Dane County Board of Supervisors, wait for word on the unofficial and official results from the Dane County Clerk's office, as well as from the rest of the state.
The local presidential campaign staff, volunteers, and supporting elected officials are now gathering under the glow of TVs at bars, restaurants, and homes throughout Madison. The outcome of this primary, particularly on the Democratic side, could have significant repercussions when it comes to the ultimate nominees chosen to compete for the presidency this fall.
Polling place reports, turnout updates, and other Election Day ephemera is available here. Live-blogging of the primary election results and candidates' parties follows.
My night ends with a quick visit to the downtown Great Dane, where the victory party for Barack Obama is slowly winding down as revelers head home in anticipation of an early Wednesday morning. The bar and billiards hall at the brew pub is hardly empty, though, as scores of supporters remain to talk, drink, and watch the continuing returns on the overhead TVs tuned in to CNN.
Mayor Dave is there, quaffing beer and a few shots with his own campaign team as they discuss the election's outcome. Zach Brandon is present too, the donor of the campaign's first offices in Madison talking with various other supporters near the front double-doors of the hall. So is Ben Masel, as well as Lisa Subeck, who is still waiting for the official totals in the final ward in her race for the Dane County Board. As expected, the crowd is youthful, and highly enthusiastic for their chosen candidate, looking for a few more moments of what must be a satisfying night.
I end up tipping back a beer with a pair of fellow media types, talking about Obama's outlook post-Wisconsin and the crazy scene around Wisconsin during the run-up to the primary. This has certainly been a helluva an election.
As the final returns continue trickling in, it looks like Obama is going to defeat Clinton by a total of 17 points, just one shy of the 18 points by which McCain defeats Huckabee. In the end, neither contest ended up being very close.
Due to the difficulties at Ward 99, it may be some time before the final vote totals are known in the primary race for the District 15 seat on the Dane County Board. Given the numbers already reported, though, it's safe to say that Lisa Subeck and Ron Ferrell will be moving on to the general election. They have 48% and 37% of the incomplete vote total at this point, compared to 14% for Richard Brown. This candidate would need to get at least 474 votes from the final ward to be able to move on, a highly unlikely possibility given the voting patters across all wards.
Andy Szal of WisPolitics, meanwhile, reports on the speeches given by Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz to the Obama victory party at the Great Dane.
Greg Bump of WisPolitics reports from the Clinton campaign gathering at the Stadium Bar, speaking with Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton about the blowout. He also notes Wisconsin Dems chair Joe Wineke's comments about the massive disparity in the total number of ballots cast for Democratic and Republican candidates, with the former exceeding the latter by a ratio of nearly 3 to 1.
All the ward reports are in for the District 1 primary for the Dane County Board now. J.P Heyn beat out another perennial candidate, Dennis DeNure, by 364 votes to to 275, and will go on to face incumbent and County Board Chair Scott McDonell in the general election.
There was one significant ballot difficulty in Madison this Election Day. There was an equipment malfunction at the polling place for Ward 99 at the Elver Park New Shelter on the far west side, which led to long lines and waits to vote. The final voters who arrived before the polls closed at 8 p.m. weren't able to cast their ballots until around 9:30 p.m., reports the poll watcher, and final results aren't expected until after midnight.
North side resident and activist Michael Basford is at the Scott McDonell party at Hawk's Bar & Grill on State Street, and notes that many Dane County Supervisors have stopped by this non-presidential party over the evening. This list includes Pat Downing, Patrick Miles, Brett Hulsey, Carousel Bayrd, Al Matano, and John Hendrick, as well as county board candidate Lisa Subeck. "We pretty much have all the results" for the Dane County Board races, notes Basford, the only outstanding one being the District 15 seat being sought by Subeck.
McDonell, who will definitely be moving on to defend his Dane County Board incumbency in the spring general election, has left the party, but several sups remain in attendance at this low key alternative the pandemonium at the Great Dane.
Turnout could be much higher than the projected 40% in some Madison wards. Photographer Michael Forster Rothbart voted at 7:55 p.m. at Whitehorse Middle School on the east side. "I learned the turnout was 1345 voters, or about 56%," he reports. "The election supervisor told me they had run out of ballots earlier in the day and had to get more from city hall."
The Dane County Clerk's office reports that they are still waiting on about 43 wards in the City of Madison to report their vote totals. Once they're in though, that's it, and this spring primary will be in the books.
Statewide numbers continue to accumulate, with 75% of returns now reported in the Democratic and Republican primaries. Obama is maintaining a 15 point lead over Clinton, and McCain remains up by 17.
Though not all of the ward totals have been reported yet, it's safe to project, and probably has been all along, who the final two candidates will be in the District 12 seat for the Dane County Board. Incumbent Paul Rusk and challenger Ted Krez will be moving on to the general election on April 1, leaving behind perennial Madison mayoral candidate Will Sandstrom.
Marc Eisen has more comments from GOP activists at the UW College Republicans results watching party at the Nitty Gritty. He reports:
"The campus Republican are probably the most active group we have in bringing out people," says Bill Richardson, the media coordinator of the Dane County Republican Party. "These kids are just as anti-establishment as SDS was back in the '60s. But they're fighting the liberal establishment on campus."
Richardson is a good example of how divided party loyalties were. He started off as a Rudy Giuliani supporter, then switched to Mitt Romney when Giuliani dropped out and then voted for McCain after Romney threw in the towel.
"McCain has paid his dues," says Richardson, noting the candidate's five years as a prisoner of war in the Vietnam era. "I like the fact that McCain has backed the president on the war on terror. He's never backed down."
"My sense is that hard-core conservatives are still coming around to McCain," he noted. "Moderate Republicans are very happy with him."
Republicans were certainly drubbed in Dane County tonight, though, as nearly three out of every four presidential primary voters selected to cast their ballot for a Democrat.
Zach Brandon is still at the victory party forObama at the downtown Great Dane. Speaking on the phone over a tremendous din of noise generated by the revelers, he points to the next steps for the campaign in Wisconsin.
"First, they're hopefully going toclean up Laundry 101, and then most of the paid staff and field staff will move on to Ohio and Texas for the March 4 primaries there," he says. "We'll continue to keep our fundraising organization in Wisconsin. I'm probably going to go to Ohio, as I was born and raised and educated there, and will campaign for another win. People here should keep their yard signs and pins and buttons, because he's going to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.
Who is coming in third and fourth in the presidential races in Madison? On the Democratic side, Edwards clocks in at number three with .56% of the vote while Kucinich ends up at number four with .36%. On the Republican side, Ron Paul, who is actually still in the race, is in third with 5.62% of the vote while the recently dropped-out Mitt Romney is at four with 2.11%.
As City of Madison results continue to trickle in, one question that remains is whether or not Hillary Clinton will be able to win a single ward. So far, she's down in all that are reporting, and losing by a margin of more than 1000 votes in Ward 34, in the near east side Marquette Neighborhood served by the polling place at O'Keefe Middle School
The City of Monona totals are being reported by the clerk's office now. Obama gets 1,732 votes to Clinton's 1,024, and McCain has 282 votes to Huckabee's 150. Again, the difference between the two parties totals is staggering.
Richard Pertzborn and Cynda K. Solberg will be moving on to the general spring election for the District 36 seat on the Dane County Board. Pertzborn was far and away the leader with 59% of the vote in the wards around the Stoughton and Cottage Grove, while Solberg gets 21% and just barely outpaces the 20% garnered by Karen Kessenich.
Democratic voters in the presidential primary are outpacing Republicans by a margin greater the 3 to 1 at this point, a telling sign even in a region with the progressive reputation of Madison and Dane County.
The City of Stoughton is now reporting vote totals, and as expected, it's not even close. Obama gets 1,739 votes to Clinton's 1,236, while McCain gets 382 to Huckabee's 293. The yawning margin between Democratic and Republican voters, meanwhile, looks to be the biggest difference of the night.
Marc Eisen reports from the GOP results watching party at the Nitty Gritty in downtown Madison, which was organized by the UW College Republicans. He notes that less the 60 people turned out for this event, and the crowd was overwhelmingly young.
"Republicans have come around in the last few weeks for John McCain," says Republican Party of Wisconsin Executive Director Mark Jefferson of the results. 'Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson had the bulk of support in Wisconsin. For a lot of Republicans, John McCain wasn't their first choice."
But it certainly looks like he'll be their candidate.
More results for the City of Madison are being reported by the Dane County Clerk's office. As expected, Obama is winning big in wards 2, 11-13, 34-35, 49, 54, 82, and 84, all with very large margins.
Jim Doyle just finished speaking at the Great Dane party for Obama, reports Vikki Kratz. She says that the Wisconsin Governor declared the candidate to be the "real thing," and not simply somebody who merely inspires college students.
Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Joe Wineke points out that Democrats out-polled Republicans by a margin of 3 to 1 today's Wisconsin primary, reports Jason Joyce from the Clinton event at the Stadium Bar. Could this be due to GOP shenanigans? "That might be 300 total in the state, and those are politcal junkies in Dane County with nothing better to do," replies Wineke. The party, which is rather subdued given Clinton's loss, is currently being attended by former Dane County Executive Rick Phelps, current Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and her husband Peter Bach, and Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton.
UW College Dems vice-chair Suchita Shah is also live-blogging the election returns, and provides the hard numbers on the vote totals for Obama and Clinton in wards around the UW campus. She reports:
Ward 46: 1333 total. Obama 948, Clinton 286. 71.1%
Ward 62 Holt Commons. 975 total. Obama 663, Clinton 149. 68%
Ward 45 Gordon Commons. 1555 total. Obama 1122, Clinton 160. 72.2%
Ward 48 (Porchlight). 1155 total. Obama 853, Clinton 173. 73.9%
Ward 47 (Mem Union). 1095 total. Obama 788, Clinton 172. 72%
Ward 40 (Lowell Center). 983 total. Obama 699, Clinton 172. 71.1%
Ward 41 (MATC). 853 total. Obama 623, Clinton 167. 73%
Ward 42 (Dayton Firehouse). 1931 total. Obama 1026, Clinton 247. 53.1%
It's a blowout.
Vikki Kratz is now in the Obama party at the downtown Great Dane, where a long line to get in continues to stymie excited revelers. She reports that Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, who endorsed Obama last Tuesday before the candidate's rally at the Kohl Center, is delivering a victory speech for the Illinois Senator.
Where has Huckabee won so far? The towns of Albion, Cross Plains, Dane, and Marshall?
What about Clinton? Nowhere, so far.
More big numbers are coming in now from the cities of Fitchburg and Verona. They're vote counts aren't complete yet, but in the wards already reporting, Obama is close to or more than doubling Clinton's vote totals. This is a route indeed.
Where is Obama's biggest win percentage-wise so far? That looks to be the Village of Shorewood Hills, the affluent enclave of Madison on Lake Mendota where the Illinois Senator nearly triple's his opponent's vote totals. A similar drubbing is seen in Maple Bluff on Madison's north side.
A broader statewide look at the vote totals this far is provided by Milwaukee broadcaster WTMJ. With 13% of the vote in across Wisconsin, Obama is winning by 55% to Clinton's 44%, while McCain is winning by 55% to Huckabee's 37%. Indeed, neither of these races are ending up to be very close.
McCain continues to hold a 20 point lead on the Republican side, meanwhile, rougly wining with 56% of the vote (to Huckabee's 36% and Ron Paul's 5%) in rural Dane County. What's remarkable, though, is that Obama is winning by an even larger margin, despite the supposed closeness of the Democratic contest that was considered up in the air as late as this afternoon.
Results from towns and villages from around Dane County continue to trickle into the clerk's office, though the larger municipalities including Madison, Fitchburg, Stoughton, and Sun Prairie have yet to report anything.
One bigger locale, has numbers now though, and that's the City of Middleton. Obama absolutely clobbers Clinton in the west side suburb, winning by a margin of over 2000 votes -- 3,605 to 1,483 -- in both of its collections of wards.
"People are ecstatic," reports Madison alder Zach Brandon from the Obama victory party at the downtown Great Dane. "Everyone is very jubilant, and we're all getting ready to watch Obama give his victory speech." Brandon notes that the bar portion of the brewpub is at capacity, and there are lines of people waiting to get inside to join in the revelery.
The two general election candidates for the District 28 seat in the Dane County Board of Supervisors have been determined. Kurt Schlicht and Susan Beil have won 36% and 28% of the vote, and will move on to the spring election on Tuesday, April 1.
Obama continues to clean up in rural Dane County. He is winning in the villages of Belleville, Black Earth, Blue Mounds, Brooklyn, Cross Plains, DeForest, Marshall, Mazomanie, and Mount Horeb, and is still roughly maintaining a 20 point lead over Clinton.
"The mood here is pretty subdued," says Jason Joyce of the Hillary Clinton campaign event at The Stadium Bar on the south end of the UW campus. Though there is plenty of Milwaukee media present, only about 75 people have showed up for the party, and half of the TVs are tuned into sports. Of the elected officials slated to attend, only State Senator Jon Erpenbach is in attendance at this point.
The results in rural Dane County continue to swing towards Obama, a confirmation that the candidate is indeed doing well in Wisconsin, and will likely do better in Madison proper and its immediate suburbs. Obama is now winning in the towns of Christiana, Deerfield, Dunkirk, Dunn, Mazomanie, Middleton, Perry, Primrose, Roxbury, Sun Prairie, and Vienna.
CNN and Fox likewise follow, both projecting that Barack Obama will win the Wisconsin Democratic presidential primary.
NBC News is Wisconsin results from CNN, with a mere 500 votes in, shows Obama with a big lead over Clinton. We'll see what changes as significant numbers start to get reported.
On the Republican side, McCain is beating Huckabee in the towns of Blue Mounds, Burke, and Mazomanie, though down by a hair in Cross Plains. In the end, though, statewide exit polling is showing a McCain victory.
The first returns are trickling in from the Dane County Clerk's office, too. Obama is up on Clinton in the towns of Blue Mounds, Burke, and Media, and nearly doubles her total in the Town of Cross Plains.
CNN, Fox, Politico, and other national news outlets are calling a win for John McCain over Mike Huckabee in the Wisconsin Republican primary. This will add 13 more delegates to the Arizona Senator's total, and likely lead to more calls for the former Arkansas Governor to drop out of the race.
The Dane County Clerk's office will be reporting unofficial results here through the night as results come in.
Both Democratic campaigns, as well as the Wisconsin GOP, are holding results-watching parties in Madison tonight. Clinton's gathering will be at the Stadium Bar, while Obama's is at the downtown Great Dane Pub. The Republicans, meanwhile, are gathering at the downtown Nitty Gritty. More details about these events can be found here.
Polls are now closed. Counting of the ballots now begins, with the unofficial canvass to be provided by the Dane County Clerk's office as results are submitted from individual wards.