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Rural Wisconsin is Key to Winning Supreme Court Elections

In less than a month, voters in Wisconsin will elect the next Supreme Court Justice, which will be critical to protecting the integrity and fairness of voting, reproductive freedoms, and representative maps, among other issues impacting Wisconsin communities. The Democracy Strategy Group, cohosted by Rural Democracy Initiative (RDI) and the Democracy Alliance, organized a webinar to mobilize support. The session explored the critical role of rural and small-town voters and highlighted the work from RDI grantees Progress North and Wisconsin Conservation Voters. In the words of RDI’s Executive Director, Sarah Jaynes, “The rural and small-town vote is critical to winning statewide in Wisconsin.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Rural voters will determine the election outcome. Wisconsin is the second most rural battleground state, aside from North Carolina. Over the past two cycles, rural and small-town voters represented 49% of all votes cast in Wisconsin. 
  • Rural Wisconsin is more progressive than we are led to believe. With higher voter turnout than in the larger cities, small-town and rural Wisconsin represented 42% of all Democratic votes cast in the last two voting cycles. The February Primary had a surge in rural votes with progressive Supreme Court candidates outperforming Biden in nearly all rural counties; they gained 10-20 points in many western Wisconsin rural counties. However, these candidates lost ground compared to Biden in Milwaukee and surrounding suburbs. (see maps above)
  • The right to vote, and so much more, is at stake. Wisconsin currently ranks 47th in ease of voting and 49th in ease of registering to vote. Those in power have made voting especially difficult for people in urban areas, with many barriers targeting low income, young people, and people of color. Organizing rural voters as part of a statewide coalition can help fight gerrymandering and protect all voters and their rights.