Tuesday, April 7, 2020

BTRTN Wisconsin Primary Preview: What if They Held an Election and Nobody Showed Up?

Tom previews the Wisconsin primary, including our BTRTN predictions, and then looks ahead.

It may come as a surprise to you that there is a primary today, in Wisconsin.  An actual in-person, polling-sites-open primary.  This is in a state that issued a statewide shelter-at-home order on March 25.  How is this possible?

2019 Wisconsin Manufacturing Facts | NAMIf the Iowa caucuses were a textbook study of how to screw up an election, then the Wisconsin primary is the poster child for how not to deal with an election in the face of the coronavirus crisis.  In a nutshell, initially neither the Democratic governor nor the Republican-controlled legislature much wanted a “mail-in only” election.  And by the time the governor, Tony Evers, changed his mind, he could not get the legislature to agree to postpone the election or go for full mail-in.  So he went to the courts for relief.

Just a few days ago, on April 2, a district judge refused to postpone the election, but he did extend the date for absentee voting until April 13.  (He also ruled that no election results could be released before then, so do not expect any results tonight.)  Evers once again tried to appeal to the legislature to change its mind, calling a special session on Saturday to that end, but to no avail. And then, yesterday (Monday), Evers tried to call the election off.  But the state courts ruled that he did not have the authority to do that.  And finally the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, last night, that the absentee ballots must be postmarked by today and received by April 13.  Whew!

There have been more zigs and zags here than in a typical Donald Trump coronavirus press conference.

Why are the Republicans being so stupidly intransigent, willing to put their own voters’ lives at risk by insisting the polls be open?  Because there is another election on the ballot besides the presidential primary, and they want to win it.  There is a conservative judge on the state supreme court up for reelection, and the GOP needs him there to uphold voting restrictions that could disenfranchise over 200,000 voters in Wisconsin in the fall, who are far more likely to be Democratic voters.  Shameful.

Let's see if anyone actually shows up at the precincts apart from the poor volunteers who have seen their lives callously put in peril by the GOP.


There is only one thing totally clear about the Wisconsin primary.  Joe Biden is going to win.

We don’t really need polling to arrive at that conclusion (though the polls, summarized below, support that prediction).  Everyone knows Biden is going to win big except for Bernie Sanders’ most zealous supporters.  Certainly Sanders himself has no illusions.  On the other hand, it is hard to be sure about Sanders, since he has not been seen since he told reporters to buzz off about his campaign "assessment."  (“I’m trying to deal with a fucking global crisis.”)  That was on March 18.  I’ve been watching a lot of TV of late.  Seen a lotta Cuomo.  Too much Trump.  Even a little bit of Biden.  Sanders?  Not one sighting.

Biden leads Sanders in the delegate race, 1217-914.  As we have said many times of late, this is simply an insurmountable lead.  Biden has to win only 39% of the remaining delegates to get to the magic number (1,991) required to secure the nomination on the first ballot.  Since Super Tuesday, after which the field narrowed down to Biden and Sanders (and the non-consequential Tulsi Gabbard), there have been nine contests.  The average of those nine races:  Biden 54%, Sanders 34%.  And not only have there been no catalysts to change that overwhelming dynamic -- given the coronavirus, there are not even any opportunities for such a catalyst.

This is not the same situation as in 2016, when Hillary Clinton held a large lead over Sanders and Sanders refused to bow out.  At this point four years ago, Clinton had a 223-delegate lead on Sanders, significant but well short of 303.   More importantly, Sanders had won five of the prior six primaries in late March, 2016.  This time around, Biden has won 22 of the last 27 contests, and eight of the last nine.  In other words, there was still an actual race going on in 2016 at this time; Clinton did not really deliver the knockout blow until April 26, when she won a number of Mid-Atlantic states.  Biden has already closed out Sanders.


There have been three polls in Wisconsin since Super Tuesday.  The gap has widened with each poll.

3/24 - 3/29
Biden +28
3/10 - 3/11
Biden +16
3/6 - 3/8
Biden +11


Our BTRTN prediction is that Joe Biden will win the Wisconsin primary going away, likely by +20 points and perhaps even +30.

We will go with the lower end, with Biden winning by a 60/38 margin over Sanders.

Again, no results will be announced until April 13.


The Alaska primary, and all mail-in event, with the results announced on Friday, April 10.

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