Hole(s) in the Blue Wall: Visualizing the Trump swing in Wisconsin, 2012-2016.

Authors: Jeffrey Zimmerman*, University of Wisconsin Whitewater, Eric Compas, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Topics: Political Geography, Urban Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: 2016 election, Wisconsin, electoral geography
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Popular media accounts of the collapse of the Democratic "blue wall" in the 2016 presidential election focused almost entirely on the surge in Trump support among rural and non-metropolitan white voters in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Although this analysis is largely correct, it is only partial and has contributed to an political narrative that potentially obscures more than it reveals. This research attempts to correct this imbalance. Using ward-level electoral data for Wisconsin in both the 2012 and the 2016 presidential elections, the unexpected Trump surge in Wisconsin is visualized at multiple scales, from the state-level where the rural surge is readily apparent, to smaller regions and municipalities where mostly unremarked-upon shifts in electoral behavior occurred. The key shifts visualized here include (1) a subtle swing towards the GOP among the white urban working class, and (2) a significant decrease in African-American turnout in the city of Milwaukee. It is at this more finely-grained analysis where a more complete picture accounting for the collapse of the "blue wall" can be drawn.

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