[12:16 a.m. CST] Tyler Katzenberger: The Daily Cardinal News Team is wrapping up coverage as the clock hits midnight. Here’s what you need to know before we sign off:
Governor: Incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers holds a roughly 3% lead over Republican challenger Tim Michels with 92% of statewide votes reported. The race has yet to be called, but Michels’ underperformances in the Milwaukee suburbs compared to former Gov. Scott Walker’s 2018 loss are concerning for his odds.
Senate: Incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson holds an approximately 1.5% lead over Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes with 92% of statewide votes reported. Johnson is likely to win the race, according to the New York Times. The Times’ predictions varied earlier in the night but have since settled on a margin of victory near 1.5%.
Attorney General: Democratic incumbent Josh Kaul leads Republican challenger and Fond du Lac District Attorney Eric Toney by approximately 3%, according to the New York Times.
Secretary of State: Longtime Democratic incumbent Doug La Follette leads challenger Amy Loudenbeck by approximately 2.5%, according to the New York Times.
Treasurer: Democratic candidate Aaron Richardson leads Republican opponent John Leiber by just over a percentage point in the race for Treasurer, according to the New York Times.
State Legislature: Though results aren’t final, a Republican supermajority appears out of reach based on expert analysis below.
Thank you for joining us tonight as we covered Wisconsin’s midterm elections. Stay tuned for further coverage early this morning as races are called.
[11:46 p.m. CST] Ellie Bourdo: La Follette remains in the lead of the Secretary of State race with 49.6%, as 87% of votes have been counted, according to the New York Times.
[11:43 p.m. CST] Ellie Bourdo: As the total vote nears 90%, Johnson remains in the lead for the U.S. Senate race, with 51.6% according to the New York Times.
[11:31 p.m. CST] Erik Pfantz: Democrats appear to be holding off a Republican supermajority in the Assembly as Steve Doyle (AD 94), Lori Palmeri (AD 54), Tip McGuire (AD 64) and Katrina Shankland (AD 71) all hold leads with a majority of votes counted in their districts, according to WisPolitics editor JR Ross.
[11:27 p.m. CST] Lilah Gutlerner: Incoming votes have slowed down slightly for the U.S. Senate race, at 84% votes counted and Johnson still holding the lead at 51.6%, according to the New York Times.
[11:19 p.m. CST] Ava Menkes: Eighty-two percent of votes are in for treasurer with Richardson keeping a narrow hold over Leiber, according to the New York Times.
[11:26 p.m. CST] Take a look at Michels’ election night watch party as the margin narrows to 0.85% with Evers still in the lead:
[11:24 p.m. CST] Gina Musso: Per Adam Rife on Twitter, no matter how close a race may end up there is no automatic recount of votes in Wisconsin. Recounts may only be requested if the margin is within 1% of the winner’s total votes – for elections in which 4,000+ votes are cast.
[11:17 p.m. CST] Michael Babcock: With 82% of votes in, incumbent Kaul’s lead solidifies over Toney in the attorney general race, from 52% to 48%. Kenosha County is waiting to report and Brown County has 59% in, according to the New York Times.
[11:08 p.m. CST] Gavin Escott: A UW-Madison law student holding a “Students for Tony” sign said Republican victories tonight have mostly been limited to places they won in 2016.
“There have been disappointments, but none of the disappointments have been unexpected,” he said.
He added that gubernatorial results looked “promising” for Evers, though he conceded that the results didn’t appear good for Barnes.
[11:08 p.m. CST] Ellie Bourdo: As over 60% of votes have been counted, La Follette continues to hold the lead in the Secretary of State race with 49.6%, according to the New York Times.
[11:07 p.m. CST] Nick Bumgardner: Wisconsin hasn’t chosen a Democratic governor in a midterm with a Democratic president since 1962. If Evers manages to pull out the win tonight, 2022 would buck that 60-year trend, according to POLITICO correspondent Adam Wren.
[11:04 p.m. CST] Francesca Pica: The results from the City of Waukesha are in: Michels led Evers by a 4-point margin of 1,163 votes. Michels underperformed former Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s 15-point victory of 4,779 votes.
[11:00 p.m. CST] Lilah Gutlerner: Despite Johnson's lead, the New York Times briefly forecasted the U.S. Senate race as a tossup before indicating that the race leans towards Johnson again.
[10:55 p.m. CST] Gavin Escott: The energy and excitement among Evers supporters is palpable at the packed Orpheum Theater in Madison. Many in attendance said they believe Evers will win.
[10:55 p.m. CST] Lilah Gutlerner: With 78% of votes in, Sen. Ron Johnson's lead continues to grow, now holding 51.4% of the vote, according to the New York Times.
[10:54 p.m. CST] Tyler Katzenberger: Evers leads Michels by one point with 81% of statewide votes in. Though Evers’ lead has narrowed, Michels’ poor returns from some suburban Milwaukee communities aren’t a promising sign for his fortunes in the governor’s race as indicated earlier in tonight’s updates.
[10:47 p.m. CST] Francesca Pica: Absentee ballot results from Milwaukee are currently being transported to the county courthouse, according to Bill Walsh of CBS 58 Milwaukee.
[10:47 p.m. CST] Ava Menkes: Aaron Richardson climbs up to a 51% lead in the race for state treasurer after a small drop to Leiber, according to New York Times. With still only 52% of votes in, predicted shifts may continue.
[10:46 p.m. CST] Nick Bumgardner: An important national trend to follow as the night drags on: Democrats lead with “independent” voters by a single point (49% to 48%) nationally in exit polls, according to a tweet from Cook Political Report publisher and editor-in-chief Amy Walter. In the last four midterm elections, the party out of power — in this case, the Republicans — has won independent voters by double digits.
[10:45 p.m. CST] Mia Salbego: Incumbent State Sen. Jeff Smith leads Republican challenger David Estenson in the race for Senate District 31 by a generous nine points as we reach the halfway point in the vote count, according to the Journal Sentinel.
[10:43 p.m. CST] Michael Babcock: With Madison reporting 90% of votes, Kaul has regained his lead over Toney in the attorney general race, at 53.4% to 46.6%. Fifty-three percent of votes are in, with 56% in for Brown County and 66% in for Milwaukee County, according to the New York Times.
[10:40 p.m. CST] Sydney Steidl: Fifty-two percent of votes are now counted for the Secretary of State race, and La Follette is ahead again with 51.1% of votes, according to the New York Times.
[10:35 p.m. CST] Nick Bumgardner: Mark Pocan (D) has won reelection to Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District. The district, which includes Madison, was rated a safe Democratic seat. Pocan is the second Democrat elected to Wisconsin’s House delegation along with WI-04 Democratic incumbent Gwen Moore.
[10:30 p.m. CST] Lilah Gutlerner: With 72% of the vote counted, Johnson has taken the lead in the U.S Senate race with 51%, according the the New York Times.
[10:30 p.m. CST] Ava Menkes: New results from the New York Times report John Leiber and Aaron Richardson are trading off for the lead.
[10:24 p.m. CST] Emily Chin: Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson has seen great turnout in his city, he told the Daily Cardinal. Cavalier went to multiple polling sites in Milwaukee and has seen increases in same-day registrations, youth votes and African-American votes.
[10:23 p.m. CST] Sydney Steidl: Loudenbeck pulls ahead of La Follette in the Secretary of State race with 49.5% of votes, according to the New York Times. At this time, 34% of votes have been counted for this race, with none from Dane County.
[10:23 p.m. CST] Ellie Bourdo: With over 70% of votes in, Johnson has passed Barnes with 51.1% of votes and is still favored to win, according to the New York Times.
[10:20 p.m. CST] Gavin Escott: District 8 Ald. Juliana Bennett said it was “very scary” to know the trajectory of what Wisconsin could be voting in but feels good about Evers’ chances.
“I feel confident in Evers — if he doesn’t win, I’m gonna be surprised,” Bennett said.
She added that she wasn’t sure about Barnes’ odds but wouldn’t be surprised if he won either.
[10:20 p.m. CST] Michael Babcock: After a slow start to counting votes,, Eric Toney snatched a narrow lead over incumbent Josh Kaul in the attorney general race, 51.3% to 48.7%. Only 29% of votes are in, with both Dane and Brown counties waiting to report, according to the New York Times.
[10:13 p.m. CST] Annika Bereny: There have only been about 1,500 votes reported out of Brown County so far. The county clerk cites “municipal data transmission” delays, according to Green Bay Press-Gazette editor Mark Treinen.
[10:08 p.m. CST] Emily Chin: Madison native Ibrahim Harun is feeling “cautiously optimistic” about the gubernatorial election. Harun voted for Evers because of how he handled COVID-19, which he claims helped his business continue to operate.
[10:06 p.m. CST] Erik Pfantz: Incumbent Assembly Speaker Robin Vos declares victory over two write-in candidates, Democrat Joel Jacobsen and Trump-endorsed Republican Adam Steen, according to Journal Times reporter Adam Rogan.
[10:02 p.m. CST] Gabriella Hartlaub: With nearly the entire city of Waukesha’s results in, Michels seems to have won by 4% compared to Walker's winning margin of 15% in 2018. The difference furthers a slow but steady trend toward Democrats in suburban Milwaukee communities that used to be reliably Republican.
[10:00 p.m. CST] Lilah Gutlerner: Two hours after polls have closed, the U.S. Senate race continues to tighten with 65% of the vote counted. Barnes leads with 50.5%, but the live forecast still favors Johnson for the win, according to the New York Times.
[9:59 p.m. CST] AJ Butler: With 87.4% of precincts reporting, the Dane County referendum on marijuana tax and regulation currently sits at 81.9% in favor while expunging marijuana convictions currently sits at 82.2% in favor. The referendum for the repeal of the abortion ban is at 85.4% in favor.
An important note is that even if they pass, referendums are non-binding.
[9:57 p.m. CST] Sydney Steidl: With 15% of Wisconsin Secretary of State votes counted, Democratic candidate Doug La Follette leads with 53.7% of votes as opposed to Republican challenger Amy Loudenbeck’s 42.2%, according to the New York Times.
[9:44 p.m. CST] Francesca Pica: The Wisconsin State Journal reported that as of 9 p.m. there was still a line of around 60 to 100 people waiting to vote in Middleton. Voters can vote if they were in line by 8 p.m.
[9:48 p.m. CST] Annabella Rosciglione: With 60% of the votes in, Johnson and Barnes are sitting at 50% of the votes each, according to the New York Times. Ninety-one percent of Dane County’s votes are in.
[9:42 p.m. CST] Tyler Katzenberger: Evers currently leads Michels, 52% to 46%, in Sauk County with 72% of the vote in, according to the New York Times. As we mentioned earlier, Sauk County is a bellwether in state elections, meaning it has a history of voting for the winning candidate.
[9:39 p.m. CST] Erik Pfantz Madison Democratic Assembly candidates Francesca Hong, Shelia Stubbs and Samba Baldeh all retain their seats in uncontested elections, according to the New York Times. The Assembly District 47 race between incumbent Democrat Jimmy Anderson and Republican Lamonte Newsom remains undecided.
[9:36 p.m. CST] Nick Bumgardner: With 31% of the vote in, Derrick Van Orden (R) narrowly leads Brad Pfaff (D), 50.4-49.6% in Wisconsin’s 3rd U.S. Congressional district. A Democratic district under Ron Kind since 1997, the district has been a key target for Republicans, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
If Republicans manage to flip the district, it could put them one step closer to flipping the U.S. House. Van Orden is favored to win the race, also according to the Journal Sentinel.
[9:35 p.m. CST] Lilah Gutlerner and Tanner Higgins: With over 50% of precincts reporting, Barnes leads Johnson by 0.04%, according to the New York Times. Evers is leading Michels, 51.8% to 47.2%.
[9:30 p.m. CST] Gavin Escott: A UW-Madison freshman said that, while he typically “leans conservative,” he voted for Evers based on his extensive experience in education. He called the mood at Evers’ watch party in the Orpheum “exciting,” and said he was confident Evers would win — though he thinks the race will be close.
[9:29 p.m. CST] Ava Menkes: With 8% of votes in for treasurer, Richardson continues to hold a strong 60.7% lead, according to the New York Times.
[9:20 p.m. CST] Erik Pfantz: Assembly District 13 candidate Sarah Harrison, who is running to hold Sara Rodriguez's seat, is ready for a tough election fight tonight, according to spokesperson Kevin Kopplin.
"Sarah knows that this race has an uphill battle in the poster district for gerrymandering in Wisconsin and hopes to exceed expectations despite that challenge," Kopplin told the Daily Cardinal via text.
[9:15 p.m. CST] Gabriella Hartlaub and Francesca Pica: With around 80% of Waukesha County in, Tim Michels is leading by 21 points over Tony Evers. Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker won the county by 33.6% in 2018 and 45.6% in 2014. Michels is trailing Johnson's vote totals in the country by about 5,500.
[9:04 p.m. CST] Tanner Higgins: In Dane County, 179 of 269 precincts have been reported — roughly 66.5%. Democratic incumbent Gov. Tony Evers is ahead of opponent Tim Michels. Democratic sheriff Kalvin Barrett also leads Republican opponent Anthony D. Hamilton.
"It will be a long night before we can go home," Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell tweeted.
[9:00 p.m. CST] Lilah Gutlerner: An hour after polls closed, 40% of the votes have been counted for the U.S. Senate election. Barnes still leads with 50.8%, and early and absentee ballots are expected to continue coming in through the night, according to the New York Times.
[8:59 p.m. CST] Annika Bereny: Just over one third of votes have been counted in Wisconsin, according to the New York Times. Evers currently leads Michels 53.5% to 45%, and Barnes holds a lead over Johnson 50.8% to 49.2%.
[8:58 p.m. CST] Tyler Katzenberger: Democrat Kelly Westlund and Republican Romaine Quinn are vying for Senate District 25 in Northern Wisconsin. The seat, which was vacated by Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley (D-Bayfield), is expected to be a close race.
Westlund’s campaign is “feeling good” tonight, according to Westlund campaign manager Marlee Schlegel.
“We’ve had a really positive response at the doors and done everything we could do,” Schlegel said. “We left it all out on the field, and all we can do now is wait.”
[8:55 p.m. CST] Noe Goldhaber: The WUD watch party at Union South has ended before most Wisconsin election results have been reported. Approximately 15 to 20 students gathered to hear Professor Schweber talk about voting results.
[8:53 p.m. CST] Mia Salbego: Current Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R) has been reelected after running unopposed, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
[8:52 p.m. CST] Sydney Steidl: Republican Secretary of State challenger Amy Loudenbeck starting ahead of 44-year incumbent Doug La Follette with 50.3% of votes in the first 2% counted, according to the New York Times.
[8:50 p.m. CST] Lilah Gutlerner: The New York Times posted a live U.S. Senate election forecast leaning towards Johnson.
[8:39 p.m. CST] Francesca Pica: Wisconsin Election Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe said in a briefing with reporters that results coming in over the course of tonight and tomorrow are unofficial. The state certifies the results on Dec. 1. Small shifts in vote totals are expected as provisional ballots continue to be counted. Wolfe said voting has gone smoothly, with longer lines reported around Middleton and Kenosha.
[8:35 p.m. CST] Lilah Gutlerner: First 10% of votes in for U.S. Senate election show Barnes leading with 56%, according to the New York Times.
[8:25 p.m. CST] Gavin Escott: Evers’ watch party is picking up energy as results come in. A CNN projection showing Barnes holding an early lead over Johnson with 4% of the votes counted elicited loud cheers and applause from the growing Evers watch party audience at the Madison Orpheum.
[8:28 p.m. CST] Ava Menkes: First results in for treasurer race show Aaron Richardson in the lead by 67.2% with 1% of the vote in, according to the New York Times.
[8:27 p.m. CST] Tanner Higgins: Fond du Lac County is the first to report results in the gubernatorial election, with 1% of the votes in, according to the New York Times. So far, 486 votes were for Michels and 121 votes were for Evers.
[8:23 p.m. CST] Tyler Katzenberger: Daily Cardinal reporters Gavin Escott and Emily Chin as well as photographer Alexa Coleman are reporting from Gov. Evers’ watch party tonight at the Madison Orpheum. Stay tuned for updates from Evers’ watch party.
[8:15 p.m. CST] AJ Butler: Ann Jacobs, a member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said Milwaukee has continued optimism that the counting of votes will be completed by 11:00 p.m. or midnight tonight. Other major locations are not expected to finish until as late as 5:00 a.m.
[8:04 p.m. CST] Hope Karnopp: On Cardinal Call for WORT News tonight, State News Editor Tyler Katzenberger and News Manager Hope Karnopp discussed the candidates that have campaigned on campus in recent weeks in efforts to capture the critical youth vote.
[8:01 p.m. CST] Noe Goldhaber: Doors just closed at Dejope residence hall's polling site. Many freshman voters who live in the Lakeshore residential halls voted for their first major election.
"I actually skipped class to vote," said freshman Lucy Barker, as she ate her dinner in Dejope’s dining hall.
[8:00 p.m. CST] Annika Bereny: The polls are now closed in Wisconsin!
[8:00 p.m. CST] Gina Musso: Tony Evers hit the polls at 11 a.m. this morning at the Madison Maple Bluff Village Center. Story and photos by Hannah Ritvo.
[7:47 p.m. CST] Claire LaLiberte: Students are filtering into Union South's Marquee Theatre to watch the election results come in. Monica Perez, director of the Wisconsin Union Directorate's Society and Politics Committee and originally from Puerto Rico, coordinated the watch party. Emphasizing that the power of voting in Wisconsin is important to her, she said, because Puerto Ricans "can't vote and do not have representation in Congress."
[7:46 p.m. CST] Annika Bereny: We are just minutes away from polls closing at 8 p.m. in Wisconsin. A quick reminder — if you are in line to vote by 8 p.m. CST, you will be able to cast a vote.
[7:46 p.m. CST] Tanner Higgins: Over 60,000 absentee ballots were set to be counted inside voting centers in the city of Milwaukee alone. Election workers will verify there are no errors on the ballots and cross reference them with the number of requested absentee ballots for each ward of the city.
[7:39 p.m. CST] Francesca Pica: Turnout in Dane County is predicted to be high, potentially reaching 90% in some parts of the county, according to Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell. Dane County reported 88% turnout in 2018.
[7:37 p.m. CST] Tyler Katzenberger: Sauk County has been a bellwether in recent Wisconsin elections. Its unique combination of liberal Madison commuters and small-town farmers voted for the winning candidate in 10 of the last 11 presidential elections, according to POLITICO.
“We're a unique microcosm of people here in this area,” Sauk Prairie High School government teacher Ryan Mussack told the Daily Cardinal last week. “It's pretty down the middle.”
Even Mussack’s AP Government class has a track record of voting for winning candidates. The class voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and flipped to President Joe Biden in 2020 — just like Sauk County. Evers and Johnson won the Governor and U.S. Senate races, respectively, in this year’s mock election, according to Mussack.
[7:32 p.m. CST] Tyler Katzenberger: University of Wisconsin-Madison students lined up at Memorial Union, Union South and other polling sites near campus today to vote in Wisconsin’s midterm elections. Several students cited Wisconsin’s close elections as a primary reason for voting.
“I just feel like this is a really contentious election and what I believe in is up at stake, so it really motivated me to go to the polls more than any other year,'' student voter Ian Gross said.
[7:00 p.m. CDT] Good evening, and welcome to The Daily Cardinal’s live election night blog coverage. Wisconsinites are currently casting their last ballots for Governor, U.S. Senate and other down-ballot elections before the polls close at 8 p.m.
Though national trends were favorable for Republicans heading into Election Day, recent polling from the Marquette Law School and Wisconsin’s recent trend of close elections indicates that tonight’s races could be nail-biters.
Here’s a rundown of statewide races we’re following tonight:
Governor: Tony Evers (D*) vs. Tim Michels (R)
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers faces Republican challenger and Michels Corporation owner Tim Michels in a tight contest for governor. The latest Marquette Law School poll from Nov. 3 found Evers and Michels tied with 48% support among likely voters.
Wisconsin’s governor race is the most expensive in state history, with both candidates and special interest groups spending nearly $115 million, according to the Associated Press.
Both candidates visited the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus in the weeks before Election Day. Michels spoke to UW-Madison College Republicans at an event on Oct. 25, while Evers joined Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other Democratic candidates at an early voting rally on Oct. 26.
U.S. Senate: Mandela Barnes (D) vs. Ron Johnson (R*)
Republican incumbent Ron Johnson holds a slight lead over Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, 50% to 48%, in the U.S. Senate race, according to the latest Marquette Law School poll.
Both Johnson and Barnes embarked on multi-day statewide bus tours to energize voters ahead of Election Day, with Barnes joining former President Barack Obama for an Oct. 28 rally in Milwaukee.
Attorney General: Josh Kaul (D*) vs. Eric Toney (R)
Democratic incumbent Josh Kaul and Fond du Lac District Attorney Eric Toney are vying for Attorney General in a race that could decide how Wisconsin enforces its 1849 abortion ban, which took effect after Roe v. Wade was overturned in June.
Kaul previously said he would not enforce the ban. However, Toney promised to “enforce the rule of law” at a UW-Madison College Republicans event on Oct. 25, which he said included Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban.
Secretary of State: Doug La Follette (D*) vs. Amy Loudenbeck (R)
Longtime Secretary of State Doug La Follette faces a tough challenge from Republican challenger Amy Loudenbeck.
La Follette, who has held the office for over four decades, told The Daily Cardinal in September his role as Secretary of State has diminished in recent years at the hands of the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Loudenbeck has promised to “replace” the nonpartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission if elected, a move La Follette said threatens election security.
Treasurer: John Leiber (R) vs. Aaron Richardson (D)
Republican real estate attorney John Leiber and Democratic Fitchburg mayor Aaron Richardson are running for state treasurer, which oversees Wisconsin’s investments and economic security, according to PBS Wisconsin.
Sarah Godlewski currently holds the office but opted to run for U.S. Senate, where she lost the Democratic primary to Barnes.
Assembly and Senate Races
Finally, Republicans are seeking a supermajority in both houses of the Legislature. If the GOP picks up one state Senate seat and five Assembly seats, the party would wield veto-proof power over state politics regardless of whether Evers wins re-election.
Key races we are watching tonight include Senate districts 5, 19, 25 and 31 and Assembly districts 13, 33, 51, 71 and 94.
Hope Karnopp is the news manager at The Daily Cardinal. She also hosts the Cardinal Call for WORT-FM. She also writes about music and previously covered state politics.
Tyler Katzenberger is the State News Editor at The Daily Cardinal. He has covered numerous protests and written state politics, healthcare, business and in-depth stories. Follow him on Twitter at @tk_kutz.
Gavin Escott is a photographer and staff writer for multiple desks at The Daily Cardinal, focusing on city and state news. Follow him on Twitter at @gav_escott.
Gabriella Hartlaub is a staff writer for the Daily Cardinal specializing in state politics and life & style reporting.
Noe Goldhaber is a staff writer for the Daily Cardinal specializing in campus and state news reporting.
Annika Bereny is a staff writer for the Daily Cardinal specializing in state news and politics reporting. Follow her on Twitter at @annikabereny.