City News

Soglin credits election turnout to millennials, says students want improvement

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin will not seek re-election, but will continue his campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger and Cameron Lane-Flehinger

At a press conference Thursday, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin credited Tuesday’s election results to increased turnout among millennials and college students.

To back up his claim, Soglin cited the change in turnout over predominantly student-populated wards in Madison from April 2014 elections to the ones on Tuesday. In wards 46-59 (excluding ward 52 which is located on the south side of the capital), there were turnout increases.

The largest increase came in ward 53, which includes southern Basset and Broom street, with an increase of more than 950 voters. In ward 49, which includes new apartment complexes like The Hub and The James, voter turnout more than quadrupled.

Soglin noted that taking advantage of these dense, young voter populations was key to increasing turnout.

“The singular response is, one way or another, millenials have turned out in exceptional numbers, particularly those of college age and if history is any indication of the future, they are here to stay,” he said.

Driving this turnout, says Soglin, is the fact that millennials have established issues they want addressed immediately.

“Between the combination of ‘wondering if my classmates and I are going to get shot tomorrow and if we’re not,' 'how the hell I’m going to pay for my students debt’ is weighing heavily and they’re not sitting around waiting to see who’s going to take care of this when they hit their 40s and 50s,” he said.

The turnout not just in Madison but in Dane County led to a sizeable victory for state Supreme Court candidate Rebecca Dallet, the margin of which caught the attention of political analysts and journalists statewide.

Dallet won with nearly 81 percent of the vote.

Adjusting to new voter registration laws, Soglin said both the city and the county worked hard to get the word out ahead of the election citing extending hours and a press conference he held prior.

“Everything we could do to make the polls accessible, that was part of it,” Soglin said.

He also noted partisan campaigns on campus, like an appearance from former Attorney General Eric Holder, likely played a role as well.

Moving forward to the fall elections and in light of Gov. Scott Walker’s warning of a “Blue Wave,” Soglin said Republicans can’t control the narrative. Soglin is one of a bevy Democrats running to try and unseat Walker in November.

“I don’t think we can let Donald Trump or Scott Walker define what is going to happen in terms of public demands or improvement in our society in the next six months or the next year,” he said.

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