MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Donald Trump’s victory in Wisconsin declared early Wednesday morning propelled him to the White House, a stunning and unexpected win that capped off a huge night for the GOP.
Trump was the first Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1984 to win Wisconsin, leading a GOP wave in the state over Democrats who were widely expected to make gains both in the Statehouse and Congress.
Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson their majorities in the state Legislature.
Here’s a look at the key races:
TRUMP BEATS CLINTON
Trump made a strong push for Wisconsin, campaigning in the state five times and holding massive rallies, while Hillary Clinton never came to the state in the face of polls that consistently showed her ahead. Trump’s victory snaps a Democratic winning streak that spanned seven presidential elections beginning in 1988. Trump rebounded from a primary loss in Wisconsin that was fueled by a strong anti-Trump movement in the conservative suburban Milwaukee counties. Trump won those counties by enough votes, coupled with even stronger performances in more rural parts of the state, to put him over Clinton by nearly 3 points, based on unofficial results. House Speaker Paul Ryan, of Janesville, endorsed Trump, but in October said he would not defend or campaign with him. But Ryan, in the days before the election, held a rally with Trump’s running mate Mike Pence and said he would have appeared with Trump at a campaign event that was subsequently canceled. While Clinton never came to the state, she did send a number of surrogates, including her running mate Tim Kaine, Vice President Joe Biden and her daughter, Chelsea.
Johnson’s victory came in a rematch of the 2010 race in which Johnson ended Feingold’s 18-year run in the Senate. Johnson argued that Feingold had already been fired by voters once six years ago and had done nothing to warrant returning to the Senate. Feingold, in a dour concession speech, told his supporters “this could be one of the most challenging times in the history of the country.”
Gallagher defeated Democrat Tom Nelson in a race for northeastern Wisconsin’s open congressional seat, keeping the swing district in GOP hands for two more years. The 8th Congressional District includes Appleton, Green Bay, Door County, the Menominee Indian reservation and rural swaths of Marinette, Oconto, Shawano and Waupaca counties. Republican Reid Ribble didn’t seek a fourth term. Gallagher, of Green Bay, is a former Marine captain who holds a doctorate in international relations. He served as national security adviser for Gov. Scott Walker’s short-lived presidential campaign last year and promised on the campaign trail to bolster the U.S. military. Nelson, the Outagamie County executive, worked to tie Gallagher to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump but the strategy failed. Gallagher told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that his “common-sense, conservative message” resonated with people. Nelson issued a statement congratulating Gallagher. Ryan, who represents the 1st District in southeastern Wisconsin, cruised to victory.
Republicans were poised to have their largest majorities in the state Legislature in decades. They retained control of the state Senate and were poised to pick up as many as two seats. That would give them a 21-12 majority, their largest advantage since 1967. Democratic incumbents Jen Shilling, the minority leader, and Julie Lassa were both behind and poised to be defeated in what would be surprise upsets. Republican newcomer Daniel Feyen won an open seat representing the Fond du Lac area, defeating Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris. Republicans entered the election with a 63-36 majority in the Assembly and were in position to increase that to 64 after defeating Democratic incumbent Rep. Chris Danou. That would be the largest GOP majority since 1957.
Preliminary results of an exit poll conducted for The Associated Press and television networks showed that Wisconsin voters were concerned about the economy, with more than half describing it as the top issue. About six in 10 said the economic situation was poor or “not good.” A majority also described Clinton and Trump as dishonest, and only about four in 10 said they strongly favored the candidate they had voted for.
Rebecca Zbichorski, a 28-year-old quality specialist and first-time voter from Milwaukee, said she voted for Donald Trump because “America needs a kick in the behind.” Zbichorski served nearly eight years of active duty in the Marines with two deployments to Iraq. She said Trump is more of a “regular type of guy” who doesn’t care what anyone thinks.
“In all honesty. We need a wake-up call. And, he’s the man who’s going to do it,” she said.
Barbara Shore, a 56-year-old retired state employee, said she’s been a Republican almost her entire adult life but finally broke with the party on Tuesday and voted for Clinton. Shore said she’s ashamed of how Republicans have stood behind Trump given his brash style and comments.
“I’m stunned by the things he’s saying,” Shore said. “I’m stunned just by how people have fallen behind it. People believe him.”