The Path to the White House Runs Through Wisconsin

In four of the last six Presidential Elections, Wisconsin has been flipped with less than 1% of the vote.

Arithmos Analytics

12/18/2021 2 min read

Wisconsin is the ultimate battleground state and the path to the White House runs through the Badger State. In six of the last eight Presidential Elections, the winner in Wisconsin has won the overall election. If a candidate wants to get the keys to the White House or get their finger on America’s nuclear trigger, winning in Wisconsin seems to be a good strategy. In 7 of the last 10 Presidential Elections, including the four most recent in a row, the winner in Wisconsin won the overall election. Furthermore, in 7 of the last 10 Presidential Elections, Wisconsin was won by a candidate who did not even win 50% of the state’s total vote. This suggests that third parties can play a big role here, and that elections are so tight even winners struggle to convince half the population to back them.

In the last six Presidential Elections in Wisconsin, four were won by a victory margin of less than 1% of the vote, and twice this was less than half of 1%. The average margin of victory in the Badger State this century is just 3.8%, but this is skewed by the landslide victory of Obama in 2008 (13.9% clear of John McCain) and his convincing re-election in 2012 with a 6.7% margin of victory. Without these two outliers, the average margin of victory in Wisconsin is just 0.5%, well within striking distance of victory for either party.

In our analysis of election results over the last 20 years, we found that only Florida has a lower average margin of victory than Wisconsin. Had it not been for the landslide victories of Obama in Wisconsin, or the razor thing victory of Bush over Gore in Florida in 2000, Wisconsin may well have taken the spot as narrowest margin of victory.

Whilst there are interesting facts about Wisconsin, one thing is clear. To win here is generally to win the overall election. With a margin of victory typically less than 1%, and a handsome 10 Electoral College votes up for grabs, the Badger State will continue to be a major bullseye for both Republican and Democrat strategists. And if they don’t win, as least beautiful scenery and tasty cheese will help them drown their sorrows.

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