WISCONSIN 10 Electoral Votes
That the campaign in Wisconsin was closely contested is illustrated by the fact that one day before voters went to the polls both President Bush and Senator Kerry held rallies in Milwaukee.  Bush and the First Lady rallied indoors at US Cellular Arena and as they were flying off to Des Moines for their next event Kerry was heading in to a rally held in cold rain outside City Hall at the corner of Water and State Streets.  Many months of activity preceded these events.

The Bush campaign made a major commitment of time and resources in Wisconsin.  President Bush's early May "Yes, America Can" bus tour in Western Wisconsin was the first of five bus tours he did in the state; Vice President Cheney also did a bus tour.  Bush-Cheney '04 Wisconsin executive director Mark Graul noted in a post-election interview that "there wasn't a media market that wasn't touched by a visit by President Bush or Vice President Cheney."  Graul stressed the importance of the campaign's grassroots effort, which involved over 60,000 Wisconsin volunteers.

Kerry too, put a lot of time in the state, signaling its importance by spending 3 1/2 days in Spring Green in late September doing debate prep.  The Democratic candidates made sure to include stops in small cities and rural towns in their travels.  Kerry's October 28 rally with Bruce Springsteen in Madison drew at least 80,000; fire marshals said it was the largest crowd ever to gather in the city.  Kerry finished the campaign with a final stop on Election Day morning in La Crosse before heading to Boston.  According to an October 8 press release, Wisconsin Victory ’04, the Democratic coordinated campaign dedicated to electing Democrats up and down the ticket, had more than 200 staffers, more than triple the number in 2000, and 23 statewide offices, compared to 12 in 2000.  The field operation included nine rural canvassers.  The campaign also focused on the youth vote, with a total of 12 paid staffers and hundreds of student leaders across the state.  Kerry-Edwards 2004 state director Richard Judge emphasized that, "While there tended to be a lot of  talk about the significant increases in paid staff over previous years, the volunteer output was unlike anything the state had ever seen.  There were coordinators in every county, [and] over 3,000 ward leaders who had defined roles within the campaign and who made significant commitments of time and to participating in training to improve their effectiveness.  On top of that, there were literally tens of thousands of volunteers who worked in the months leading up to the election..."

Kerry allies played an important role.  A spokesperson summarized America Coming Together's accomplishments thusly: "ACT-WI aggressively pursued independent, undecided voters and the progressive base alike.  In just seven months of activity, the ACT-WI team knocked on almost one million doors before beginning its GOTV program.  For the four days leading up to and including Election Day, ACT-WI made 400,000 phone calls, direct mailed 229,000 households three times for a total of 687,000 pieces of mail, and knocked on 336,000 doors three times.  On Election Day, we had 5,377 canvassers deploy from 12 staging areas across the state.  Not only did ACT-Wisconsin drive voter turnout across the state, our movement engaged and energized new voters to participate.  From minorities to young people, ACT-WI inspired a new legion of voters to get involved and share their voice with our political process.  For example, in Milwaukee, where we knocked on 156,000 unique households, the average ACT ward outperformed expected turnout by 4.8%.  Some city of Milwaukee wards reported turnout of over 115% due to new voter registrations and turnout.  In ACT targeted wards in Brown County, we beat Gore’s vote total percentage by 1.54% and Doyle’s vote total from 2002 percentage by 4.33%."

Wisconsin was one of five states where the Environmental Victory Project (a project of the League of Conservation Voters, Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, and Friends of the Earth Action) ran an on-the-ground effort.  The Environmental Victory Project had its headquarters in Milwaukee and an office in Madison.  According to an October 26 press release, with 33 staff and over 1000 volunteers, "LCV has knocked on over 250,000 doors in key swing precincts in Milwaukee, Dane, Waukesha, Sheboygan and Racine counties."

The AFL-CIO had "very aggressive program" of member-to-member communications and made a particular effort to target swing voters.  A November 1 press release trumpeted, "In the largest member mobilization in Wisconsin’s history, the union movement has marshaled 322 full-time staff, recruited 11,522 volunteers, set up 15 phone banks with 184 lines, and distributed 2,115,100 leaflets across the state."

Non-aligned groups were active as well.  The New Voters Project, which focused on 18-24 year olds, claimed 133,775 voter contacts and 129,534 voters registered, more than in any of the six core states it targeted.

Jobs and the economy were significant issues.  A Kerry-Edwards TV ad running in Milwaukee in late October stated, "The middle class under George Bush is losing everything in Wisconsin." (>)  ACT Wisconsin press releases from October highlighted the fact that, "Wisconsin has lost 67,500 manufacturing jobs under the Bush Administration.  One out of eight manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin has been lost under the Bush Administration. [Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1/01 & 9/04]"  Bush presented a rather more positive outlook. For example in a speech in Oshkosh on October 16 he noted, "Over the last three years, our economy has grown at the fastest rate of any major industrialized nation. The home ownership rate in America is at an all-time high incomes are up. (Applause.)  Farm incomes are up.  The past 13 months we've added 1.9 million new jobs.  The unemployment rate across America is 5.4 percent.  That's lower than the average of the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s.  (Applause.)  The unemployment rate in the great state of Wisconsin is 4.8 percent.  (Applause.)  This economy is moving forward, and we have more work to do..."  One important part of Wisconsin's economy is the $20.6 billion dairy industry; the state has some 16,500 dairy farmers.  In October the failure of Congress to renew the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program became an issue when the Kerry campaign charged that Bush, despite his rhetoric, did not support the price support program.  The Kerry (>) and Bush (>) campaigns both released ads on the issue.

Sen. Kerry uttered one of the more infamous lines of the campaign when, during a visit to Green Bay on August 25, he referred to the NFL Green Bay Packers' Lambeau Field as Lambert Field.  It was a minor slip, but the Republican team took every opportunity to remind Wisconson audiences of the gaffe; it was a sure-fire way to produce a crowd reaction.  In a typical example, Bush at a rally in Oshkosh on October 16 stated "I know my running mate has been in the neighborhood recently.  (Audience: Booo! Flip-flop! Flip-flop!)  He thought he was going over to Lambert Field.  (Laughter.)"  Bush even staged a photo-op in front of Lambeau Field on October 30 after delivering a speech nearby.

Cuba City, located in southwestern corner of the state in Grant County, saw a bit of one-upmanship. The town, which bills itself as "the City of the Presidents" has a population of a bit more than two thousand and is about 20 minutes from Dubuque, Iowa.   On his May bus tour, Bush had gone through the town without stopping.  ThereuponSen. Kerry, on his post-Convention "Believe in America" tour , made an unannounced stop and held a small rally on August 3.  Not to be outdone Bush, on a southwestern Wisconsin bus tour with the First Lady, held a full-fledged Victory 2004 rally at Cuba City High School on October 26.  Kerry, however, had the last word, narrowly winning the county by 12,864 votes (50.92%) to 12,208 (48.32%), a very similar outcome to 2000.

Finally it should be noted that the Cheneys had a bit of a connection to the state, having lived there for almost three years.  In 1966 the National Center for Education in Politics selected Dick Cheney to intern on the staff of Wisconsin Gov. William Knowles, and during that time, from 1966-68, he undertook doctoral studies in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, before moving to Washington, DC.  Lynne Cheney likewise studied at UW-Madison in 1966-68, earning a Ph.D. in 19th-Century British literature in 1970.

Minor party and independent candidates had scant impact on the race in Wisconsin.  Ralph Nader, on the ballot as an independent, visited twice in the Fall but gained just 16,390 votes (0.55%).  Hoping to attract fiscal conservatives and build upon the showing of 2002 Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Ed Thompson, the campaign of Michael Badnarik targeted Wisconsin as one of four states where it ran late TV advertising (>) and Badnarik himself visited the state for several days in late October.  The effort generated meager results however, as Badnarik won only 6,464 votes (0.22%).  Green Party candidate David Cobb fared even worse.

Although the Bush campaign exceeded its goals by over 25,000 votes, in the end Kerry's strong showings in Milwaukee and Dane Counties were critical to his 11,384 vote margin.  In Milwaukee County, one of few counties where Bush's share of the vote actually declined (from 37.71% in 2000 to 37.39% in 2004), Kerry amassed a plurality of 117,366 votes.  In Dane County, Kerry won slightly more than 66% of the vote and a plurality of 90,683 votes.
Bush-Cheney '04 Kerry-Edwards 2004
Organization details...  details...
BC'04 State Chair: Jim Klauser
Exec. Director: Mark Graul
Comm. Director: John Broehm
Office: 2222 No. Mayfair Rd, Wauwatosa

Republican Party of Wisconsin
State Chair: Richard W. Graber
Exec. Director: Darrin Schmitz
Pol. Director: Rick Wiley

Office: 148 E. Johnson,  Madison

KE State Director: Richard J. Judge
Comm. Director: George Twigg
Chief Wisconsin Strategist: Teresa Vilmain
Offices: 31 South Henry St., Suite 300, Madison   - and -   2040 W. Wisconsin Ave., Suite 2024, Milwaukee

Coordinated Campaign Director: Brian Weeks

Democratic Party of Wisconsin
State Chair: Linda Honold
Exec. Director: Kim Warkentin
Office: 222 W. Washington Ave., Suite 150,  Madison

Travel  compare...
Final Month (Oct. 2-Nov. 2, 2004)
George W. Bush - 6 visits (6 days)
Dick Cheney (and Lynne Cheney) - 6 visits (6 days)
Laura Bush (solo) - 2 visits (2 days)
John Kerry - 7 visits (8 days)
John Edwards - 4 visits (4 days)
Teresa Heinz Kerry (solo) - 0 visits
Elizabeth Edwards (solo) - 4 visits (5 days)
Eight Months (March 2-Nov. 2, 2004)
George W. Bush - 13 visits (13 days)
Dick Cheney (and Lynne Cheney) - 10 visits (11 days)
Laura Bush (solo) - 4 visits (4 days)
Lynne Cheney (solo) - 1 visit (1 day)
John Kerry - 15 visits (21 days)
John Edwards - 7 visits (12 days)
Teresa Heinz Kerry (solo) - 0 visits
Elizabeth Edwards (solo) - 7 visits (9 days)

Newspaper Endorsements
Green Bay Press-Gazette  (10/31/04)
Shawano Leader  (10/31/04)
Monroe Times  (10/30/04)
Daily Telegram [Superior]  (10/30/04)
Beloit Daily News (10/25/04) >
Wisconsin State Journal  (10/24/04) >
*Post-Crescent [Appleton]  (10/24/04) 
Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter (10/24/04)
Janesville Gazette (10/24/04)
The Northwestern [Oshkosh]  (10/22/04) 
Chippewa Herald  (10/19/04)
Sheboygan Press  (10/31/04) 
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  (10/28/04) >
Capital Times [Madison]  (10/28/04) >
*La Crosse Tribune  (10/27/04) >
Green Bay News-Chronicle  (10/27/04) 
Kenosha News  (10/24/04) >
Racine Journal Times  (10/24/04) >
*Wausau Daily Herald  (10/23/04) >


Marshfield News-Herald (10/25/04)
The editorial titled "Give us your unifying vision, candidates" stated, "There's not a clear winner in our board's or Wisconsinites' minds with only eight days to go."
Stevens Point Journal
editorial board deadlocked (interestingly in 2000 the ed board had decided to back Bush, but the editor refused to accede)
Eau Claire Leader-Telegram
"we do not endorse. our readers have indicated that they want us to give them enough information with which to decide and they will do the rest." 
The Reporter (Fond du Lac)
"Our policy in 2004 was to endorse races where we were able to interview the candidates in person. We made endorsements from the US Senate race down to local races. No presidential." 
Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune
endorsement of local paper doesn't "mean a hill of beans...readers had made up their minds"
The Daily News (West Bend/Washington County)
typically does not endorse in national races
Portage Daily Register
concentrates on more local races and was short-staffed
Beaver Dam Daily Citizen
do not endorse in national elections
Baraboo News Republic
Ashland Daily Press
"we never actually see the candidates"
Note: Gannett has 10 papers in Wisconsin -- The Daily Tribune, Wisconsin Rapids   ...   Green Bay Press-Gazette, Green Bay   ...   Herald Times Reporter, Manitowoc   ...   Marshfield News-Herald, Marshfield   ...   Oshkosh Northwestern, Oshkosh   ...   The Post-Crescent, Appleton   ...   The Reporter, Fond du Lac   ...   The Sheboygan Press, Sheboygan   ...   Stevens Point Journal, Stevens Point   ...   Wausau Daily Herald, Wausau.  4 endorsed Bush, 2 Kerry and 4 made no endorsement in the presidential race:
BUSH - Green Bay Press-Gazette, Herald Times Reporter (Manitowoc), Oshkosh Northwestern, The Post-Crescent (Appleton).
KERRY - The Sheboygan Press, Wausau Daily Herald.
NO ENDORSEMENT - Marshfield News-Herald, The Daily Tribune (Wisconsin Rapids), Stevens Point Journal, The Reporter (Fond du Lac).

More Endorsements
Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation  -10/20/04
Green Bay Chamber of Commerce, Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce, Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce, and Fond du Lac Chamber of Commerce  -Hon. Andrew Card accepted the endorsements on behalf of President Bush on 10/22/04

-In October, ACT Wisconsin raised concerns about inadequate ballots in Milwaukee, invoking the specter of voter suppression.  Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker
addressed the concerns in a letter.
-"Milwaukee Black Voters League" flyer from late Oct. 2004.
-"Operation Elephant Takeover" -- Early on the morning of Election Day, Milwaukee was the scene of an unfortunate incident of "political sabotage."  Republicans found tires slashed on 25 vehicles they had rented to take people to the polls.  On Jan. 24, 2005, following an investigation, Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann charged five young Democrats with the crime.  On April 26, 2006 Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Michael Brennan sentenced four of them to jail sentences of from four to six months and levied fines.
-Reporting by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on problems in Milwaukee, including more than 1,200 ballots cast from invalid addresses, led law enforcement officials to launch, on Jan. 26, 2005, a joint investigation into the possibility of voter fraud.  On May 10, 2005 the task force issued preliminary findings, pointing to "widespread record keeping failures and separate areas of voter fraud."  In the City of Milwaukee 277,565 votes were counted but records showed only 272,956 voter names.

Wisconsin's Five Largest Counties: 2000 and 2004
Wisconsin's five largest counties accounted for 41.05% of the vote for president in 2000 and 40.43% of the vote in 2004.  In strongly Democratic Milwaukee and Dane Counties, Kerry improved upon Gore's showing in 2000.  In strongly Republican Waukesha County, Bush improved upon his 2000 showing as he did in the more evenly balanced Brown County.

(All told Kerry obtained more than 60 percent of the presidential vote in six counties: Menominee, Dane, Douglas, Ashland, Milwaukee and Bayfield.  Likewise Bush obtained more than 60 percent in six counties: Washington, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Green Lake, Fond du Lac and Florence.  See also "Wisconsin Election Data Analysis.")

Milwaukee County
Gore/Lieberman (D)
Kerry/Edwards (D)
Bush/Cheney (R)
Bush/Cheney (R)
Nader/LaDuke (G)
Nader/Camejo (I)
Others (6+scatter)
Others (4+w/ins)
16.68% of statewide total
Gore plurality:
16.09% of statewide total
Kerry plurality:

Dane County (Madison)
Gore/Lieberman (D)
Kerry/Edwards (D)
Bush/Cheney (R)
Bush/Cheney (R)
Nader/LaDuke (G)
Nader/Camejo (I)
Others (6+scatter)
Others (4+w/ins)
8.96% of statewide total
Gore plurality:
9.15% of statewide total
Kerry plurality:

Waukesha County
Gore/Lieberman (D)
Kerry/Edwards (D) 73,626  (31.96%)
Bush/Cheney (R)
Bush/Cheney (R) 154,926 (67.25%)
Nader/LaDuke (G)
Nader/Camejo (I)  966 (0.42%)
Others (6+scatter)
Others (4+w/ins) 845 (0.37%)
Total  230,363
7.84% of statewide total
Bush plurality:
7.69% of statewide total
Bush plurality:

Brown County (Green Bay)
Gore/Lieberman (D)
Kerry/Edwards (D)
Bush/Cheney (R)
Bush/Cheney (R)
Nader/LaDuke (G)
Nader/Camejo (I)
Others (6+scatter)
Others (4+w/ins) 518 (0.42%)
4.15% of statewide total
Bush plurality:
4.11% of statewide total
Bush plurality:

Racine County
Gore/Lieberman (D)
Kerry/Edwards (D)
Bush/Cheney (R)
Bush/Cheney (R)
Nader/LaDuke (G)
Nader/Camejo (I)
Others (6+scatter)
Others (4+w/ins) 425 (0.42%)
3.42% of statewide total
Bush plurality:
3.39% of statewide total
Bush plurality:

Third Party and Independent
Nader Ballot Access
As in other states both major parties got involved in Nader's ballot access effort.  Nader Wisconsin Coordinator Bill Linville declined to accept more than 3,000 signatures presented to him at the last minute because they had been gathered through what appeared to be an organized Republican effort.  On Sept. 7, 2004 Nader supporters submitted 460 pages containing the 4,000 signatures they had gathered to the state Elections Board.  The Elections Board certified 3,685 signatures.

On Sept. 10 the Wisconsin Democratic Party filed a challenge with the state Elections Board based on two technical facts: a) one of the Nader electors lived outside the congressional district he represented, and b) Nader sought Independent status in Wisconsin, but he was appearing on other state ballots as party nominee.  On Sept. 21, after hearing from attorneys representing the Wisconsin Democrats and attorneys representing Nader, the Elections Board ruled 5-4 that Nader should appear on the ballot.  On Sept. 24 the Wisconsin Democrats followed up on their challenge by filing a lawsuit in the Dane County Circuit Court.  Judge Michael Nowakowski ruled on Sept. 28 that Nader should not be included on the ballot.  Nader attorney Robert Bernhoft immediately appealed, and on Sept. 30 the Supreme Court of Wisconsin ruled 7-0 that Nader should appear on the ballot.

State Coordinators
Nader: Bill Linville of Madison.
Badnarik: Paul Bethke
Cobb: Jill Busierre

Copyright © 2005  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.

The 2004 Campaign on the Web--Wisconsin
1 2 3
Republican Party of WI Democratic Party of WI wispolitics.com
4 5 6
Libertarian Party of WI WI Green Party Constitution Party of WI
7 8 9 10
ACT Wisconsin Environmental Victory Project Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin
12 13 14 ...Senate
Tim Michels (R) Russ Feingold (D) -inc. Arif Khan (L)