From the Bench…
Insights gained after years of sitting on the bench…as judge and athletic supporter. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author, under no promise or acceptance of remuneration, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any past, present or future employer, client, spouse, child, priest, pet or associate of the author.
Is Greendale a Conservative Bastion in Milwaukee County? It appears so. Greendale, along with its bordering municipalities in Southwestern Milwaukee County, are voting overwhelmingly conservative in recent elections. In the 2014 election for Wisconsin governor, 7,383 votes were cast in Greendale. Governor Scott Walker (Republican) received 4,526 votes, or 61% of ballots cast. In the 2010 election for Wisconsin governor, 60.5% of Greendale votes were cast for Walker.
Greendale is similar to its immediate neighbors as it relates to voting conservatively. In 2014, Governor Walker was re-elected with 58% of the vote in Greenfield, 63.5% in Hales Corners and 66% in Franklin. Governor Walker carried every ward in Greendale and Hales Corners, 23 of 24 wards in Franklin, and 19 of 21 wards in Greenfield.
By contrast, in Milwaukee County as a whole, Governor Walker received just 36.5% of the vote. Statewide, Governor Walker was reelected with 52% of the vote. Thus, Governor Walker is far more popular among Greendale (as well as Greenfield, Hales Corners and Franklin) voters compared to the rest of the municipalities in Milwaukee County, and even statewide. In fact, Greendale has more in common-politically-with Waukesha County’s New Berlin voters (71% for Walker in 2014) than it does with other suburban Milwaukee County communities, such as Cudahy (49.6% for Walker).
What do the Spring 2016 Elections tell us about the Greendale voter? The Spring 2016 presidential primaries offer a unique insight into Greendale voters. The 2016 presidential primaries were contested and well-publicized, voter turn-out was high, and voter cross-over was low. Historically, in primary elections, if one party’s candidate was safely entrenched as the party’s candidate, voters would cross-over to the other party’s ticket and select the candidate they believed was easier for their choice to defeat. This obviously skews the totals and makes the data difficult to interpret.
Not the case with the Spring 2016 elections. The aggregate number of votes on the Republican and Democratic side provides the most accurate assessment of the true political leanings of the community.
Of the 6,703 ballots cast, 3,947 were Republican (58.88%), 2,724 were Democratic (40.64%).
Greendale Democrats for Walker. If 59% of Greendale voters are Republican, but Governor Walker received 61% of the vote (2010 & 2014), then 2-3% of Democrats are consistently crossing-over to vote for Governor Walker.
Greendale Republicans for Obama. Likewise, President Obama received 44% of the vote in the 2012 election, so about 3-4% of Republicans crossed-over to vote for President Obama.
Which Greendale wards are most conservative? Most liberal? Greendale is broken into ten (10) wards with 5 polling stations. The two wards that have historically voted conservative/Republican at the highest percentage are Wards 1 & 2 (70% for Walker in 2014; 66% for Bush in 2004). Wards 1 & 2 are the “G”, “F” and “H” sections. The wards voting least conservative are Wards 3 & 4, located in the Village center.
Despite their designation as “least conservative” among the voting wards in Greendale, Mary Burke (D) garnered just 43% of the vote in Wards 3 & 4 in the 2014 Governor’s race.
Does this data mean anything for Greendale (School & Village Board) elections? Nope. Local elections in Greendale remain hand-to-hand combat. It’s about how many of your friends, family and neighbors vote for you. Personal relationships, and trust, still matter most.
Does this data mean anything for candidates for state office (Assembly & Senate)? Absolutely. Considering the boundaries and demographics of the 82nd Assembly District and the 28th Senate District, Greendale (as well as Hales Corners, Franklin, and most of Greenfield) will be represented by Republicans in the Capitol for the foreseeable future. Further, in communities that vote similar to Greendale, engaging in outwardly antagonistic conduct towards a regionally-popular public figure (e.g., signing Governor Walker’s recall petition) has rendered some local candidates for office dead-on-arrival.
Can a school referendum be passed in a community that votes conservatively? Yes. Indeed, there appears to be a high correlation between a community’s tendency towards voting conservatively and approving referenda. On April 5th, there were 71 school referenda on ballots across the state. Locally, in several Waukesha County communities that consistently vote conservative, referenda were overwhelming approved by voters. Muskego voters approved a $43M school building referendum by a 59-41% margin. Mukwonago voters approved a $49.5M school building referendum by a 58-42% margin, and in Menomonee Falls, voters approved $32.7M building referendum with a 56-44% margin.
Closer to home, both Franklin and Greenfield voted for Governor Walker by substantial margins and passed school building referenda, in 2012 and 2008, respectively.
Mark Kapocius is the Municipal Judge in the Village of Greendale. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marquette University Law School. More importantly, he is a graduate of Greendale High School, and lifelong loyal follower of the Panther football, baseball, and basketball teams. In his free time, he serves on various boards and coaches youth sports.