In Wisconsin, the highest turnout in a November gubernatorial election was in 1962, when 52.4 percent of voters cast ballots.
But for the June 2012 Wisconsin recall election, the state election board is predicting between 60 and 65 percent of voting-age Wisconsinites will vote, either in person or by absentee ballot. By contrast, in the 2010 election that swept Governor Scott Walker and his anti-worker allies into office, there was 49.7 percent turnout.
The Government Accountability Board (GAB), which manages Wisconsin elections ,was clear to say that this is just a prediction. “Wisconsin has never had a statewide recall election, which makes predicting turnout difficult,” said GAB director Kevin Kennedy. “We typically look at history for guidance in predicting turnout.”
It’s worth noting that although 65 percent is high, it’s not at the high water mark of 2008, when thousands of first-time and revitalized voters elected President Barack Obama. Turnout was 69.2 percent. At least 400,000 Wisconsinites voted in 2008 but did not show up in 2010.
A key county in this election will be Milwaukee County, where Walker once served as County Executive (he won through a recall election, by the way) and where Democratic challenger Tom Barrett serves as Mayor of Milwaukee. Turnout in the sea change election of 2008 was 316,916, but that dropped to 209,929 two years later.
That’s almost 107,000 voters in Milwaukee County alone that have yet to express how they feel about Scott Walker at the ballot box – and with polls showing a consistent statistical tie, they are sure to make the difference on Tuesday’s election.
Democratic pollster Paul Maslin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Barrett a win is assured if turnout is 2.5 million or more, but that turnout is far from certain. With Walker’s millions of dollars in negative TV ad spending, it’s up to each of us to make sure everyone understands the importance of this unprecedented, unpredictable recall election. Please use check out the AFL-CIO Friends and Neighbors Tool, which allows you to do just that.