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Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (John Gress/Reuters)
The numbers are crazy.

Dane County (home of Madison):

Voters and public officials are reporting long lines at many Wisconsin polling places Tuesday — with Dane County Clerk Karen Peters calling the local turnout "just wild" so far.

"It ranges from 28 to 42 percent already; it is a huge turnout. We could hit 80 to 88 percent," Peters said of Dane County's turnout. At midday, she was fielding calls wrapping up a status report from local clerks.

Democrats need to run up huge margins in Dane in order to have any chance of success. Hitting 88 percent would go a long ways toward victory.

But the bigger issue is Milwaukee, where African American and other Democratic-leaning voters stayed home in 2010 and cost Democrats the governor's mansion. Madison can't make up the margins that Gov. Scott Walker will run up in rural Red Wisconsin. We need Milwaukee to come in big. On that front, things are looking promising:

Heavy turnout in Milwaukee led the city Election Commission to call out the reserves Tuesday.

Extra poll workers were sent to polling places at Becher Terrace, Bradley Tech High School, Keenan Health Center, Morse Middle School, Rufus King International School Middle Years Campus and Cass Street, 53rd Street, Grantosa and Parkview schools, said Sue Edman, the election commission’s executive director.

The backup workers were needed to handle long lines, partly because a significant number of new voters were registering at the polls, Edman said.

“We knew things would be busy, but we didn’t know how busy,” Edman said.

State elections officials predicted that between 60-65 percent of eligible voters would turn out. We need that number to be around 65-70 percent to win. Conservatives will turn out in droves. There's no doubt about it. The question is whether our side will as well, because there's more of us than there is of them.

With Madison coming on strong, it's all about Milwaukee.

11:26 AM PT: Turnout is crazy heavy in heavily Republican Milwaukee suburbs. I'm seeing reports saying that turnout in some of those GOP areas is exceeding 2008 presidential numbers.

11:30 AM PT: This is a genuine voter turnout battle. You can help with the getting-out-the-vote efforts with virtual phonebanking.

11:33 AM PT: A warning to those circulating supposed exit poll numbers (yes, there are exit polls tonight!):

Those doing official exit polling are literally locked in room w/ no phone, email etc. Don't trust anything you see before 5pm. #wirecall

@amyewalter via TweetDeck

11:41 AM PT: Remember Bill Clinton's trip to Milwaukee over the weekend? It was intended to goose up African American interest in the race. As I note above, Milwaukee's apathy in 2010 cost Democrats dearly in the state.

Some data:

The difference between the city's turnout for president in 2008 (275,042 votes) and governor in 2010 (187,811 votes) was almost 90,000 votes. Closing that gap in half would generate another 45,000 votes in an overwhelmingly Democratic area.

"That's a 2% overall impact on the election," Chheda said. (About 2.1 million people voted in the 2010 race).

11:53 AM PT: Good point, from the comments:

Much of western and west central Wisconsin is rural and BLUE, NW Wisconsin is rural and blue.  Walker's strength is in the Fox River Valley, Suburban Milwaukee, Suburban St. Croix County (Mpls/StP suburbs) and rural NE Wisconsin.  I resent the implication that it is rural Wisconsin that elected Walker---it was Suburban Wisconsin that elected Walker.
It's true, Walker won because of Milwaukee suburbs. I stand corrected.

11:58 AM PT: Historial Dane vs Waukesha numbers.

Dane is Madison and environs, while Waukesha is those heavily GOP suburbs of Milwaukee. The thing to note is that in 2010, Dane had about 15,000 more total raw voters than Waukesha.

In 2008, Dane had 60,000 more votes. We need today to resemble 2008.

12:07 PM PT: Another interesting point from the numbers I link to above:

In 2008, turnout in Waukesha was 145K, 62% of it GOP

In 2010, turnout in Waukesha was 134K, 72% of it GOP

In raw numbers, that means that roughly 6,000 more Republicans voted in 2010 (95K vs 89K), while 18,000 Democrats fell off (56K vs 39K).

In other words, heavy turnout in Waukesha isn't necessarily a sign that Republicans are outperforming. It could mean the exact opposite.

(And I mean could. I have no way of telling right now.)

Originally posted to kos on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 11:17 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos and Badger State Progressive.

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