Wisconsin Republicans are enthusiastic after wins here by president-elect Donald Trump and U.S. Senator Ron Johnson on Tuesday.
Despite the state having voted for a Republican presidential candidate for the first time since 1984, they still consider Wisconsin a political battleground.
“We’re still a purple state,” said Republican delegate Bob Spindell.“We just outworked the Democrats. I think they took Wisconsin for granted."
He noted Trump made several visits to Wisconsin after securing his party’s nomination. Clinton’s campaign did send several surrogates, including the Vice Presidential nominee, but the candidate herself did not visit.
Spindell said Republicans must now work to bring Trump supporters who had not previously been politically engaged into their coalition of voters here in Wisconsin.
“I don’t think any other candidates could have gotten some of the people that voted for Trump to put them over the top here,” Spindell said.
Clinton supporters agree that Democrats retain many voters here in Wisconsin.
“It’s still a swing state,” said Anna Kohrs, a Clinton supporter from New Berlin. "But what I saw last night was the election here going red when I thought it was going to turn blue."
Mike Wagner, a professor of journalism and political science at UW-Madison, said a lack of Democratic turnout compared to previous presidential elections in 2008 and 2012 contributed to Trump’s victory here.
“Voter turnout suggests Democrats performed less well than they have in presidential elections past,” Wagner said.
But he added those Democratic votes are still out there.
“I don’t think one election removes Wisconsin’s status as a swing state,” Wagner said.
Wagner also noted Clinton's lack of visits to Wisconsin ahead of the election.
“Hillary Clinton didn’t come to Wisconsin and that might have had something to do with the lack of enthusiasm, or at least a little less of it for her than for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012,” Wagner said.
Phil Rocco, an assistant professor of political science at Marquette University, agreed Wisconsin remains a battleground. He said it’s important to note that Trump’s victory here was by a narrow margin of less than 30,000 votes.
"The question for Republicans is whether they can maintain the coalition that Trump cobbled together in this particular election?" Rocco said.
Wagner said that group was made up largely of white voters in rural and suburban areas without college degrees.
"A lot of these voters feel a deep resentment towards those in power, and towards politicians, and we did not estimate how much they'd turn out effectively," Wagner said.
Rocco added Trump managed to turn out a sizable coalition of voters without a traditional turnout or ground game operation. He said that’s what makes his path to victory a potential game-changer.
“That’s critical to how we understand this election going forward,” Rocco said.