The polls close at 9 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. Madison time. Dude, I’m nervous.
Madison city clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl said 7,190 absentee ballots had already been submitted by Monday, outpacing the absentee count from the presidential primary of February 2008. While the ballots haven’t been counted, high turnout in the liberal city is likely to Kloppenburg’s benefit.
Witzel-Behl predicted a 60 percent turnout, which would be a record high for an April election since Madison started keeping records in 1984. Madison also has hotly contested mayoral and county executive races, but political observers suspect the statewide race is driving many voters’ passions…
While neither candidate’s campaign would discuss internal polling numbers, one political expert said the frenzied pace of last-minute spending suggested a tight race. Mordecai Lee, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said groups usually cut their losses and save their money if polls show their candidate significantly behind.
To see how overtly Kloppenburg’s supporters have turned this race into a referendum on the collective bargaining law, check out Ann Althouse’s latest photo. It’s a case study in why electing judges is a bad idea. If Kloppenburg wins and shocks the world by voting to uphold the CB law, it’ll be a crushing betrayal of those who voted for her. If she does what’s expected and votes to strike it down, it’ll reinforce the ever-growing perception that judges are political hacks who do the bidding of their party. (Kloppenburg’s not really hiding her intentions, emphasizing in her speeches that she looks forward to being a check on the executive and legislative branches, hint hint.) That’s bad news for courts generally and for her individually, but I guess she’ll worry about that once she’s gotten her supreme court seat.
NRO’s Robert Costa, who’s been the blogosphere’s go-to guy for reporting on Wisconsin lately, says the key counties for Prosser are Brown, Racine, Milwaukee, and Outagamie. The Journal-Sentinel will be posting results here and Wisconsin Politics will likely be updating here. While we wait for numbers, go on over to Time’s new poll of the 100 most influential people this year and vote for, well, anyone besides the Fleebagger 14.
Update: As hard as it is for an eeyore to type these words, the news as of 11 p.m. ET is … good!
Historic reporting pattern for WI suggests Prosser will win with good margin.
At the moment, slightly more than 50 percent of precincts have reported. Prosser leads by … 1,100 votes.
Update: Turnout looks to be roughly double what it usually is for state supreme court elections.
Update: Prosser already leads by 40,000 votes in Waukesha County with just over 25 percent of precincts reporting. That’s where he’ll pad his lead; Kloppenburg will have to clean up elsewhere to erase it.
Update: At 10 minutes to midnight, with a little more than 75 percent reporting, Kloppenburg leads by 7,000 votes with still some precincts left to report in her strongholds of Dane and Milwaukee. A friend in Wisconsin e-mailed me a few minutes ago to say that Prosser is strongly underperforming compared to how Walker did in November. The one bright spot: A few heavily Republican counties still have yet to report. Stay tuned.
Update: Shortly after midnight, Swing State Projects says Prosser’s still on track to win based on its modeling — but by less than a single percentage point.
Update: With 3346 of 3630 precincts reporting, Prosser leads by not quite 600 votes. He’s still waiting for 68 precincts from his stronghold of Waukesha to report; Kloppenburg’s waiting on 41 from her stronghold of Dane. The spin tomorrow regardless of who wins: Wisconsin is very much in play next year. And, fears to the contrary notwithstanding, the conservative grassroots is fully capable of matching motivated liberals in turnout, even in a state that’s been ground zero for left-wing activism for a month now.
I’ll hang around until all precincts are in, but needless to say, we’re headed for a recount.
Update: Waukesha is now 100 percent in and Prosser has just a 1,600 vote lead overall — with some precincts in Dane, Eau Claire, and Milwaukee, Kloppenburg’s other strongholds, still to report. Hmmm.
Update: At 1:00 a.m. ET, Milwaukee’s mayor is announcing that they’re just now starting to count 8,000 absentee ballots. Prosser’s lead at the moment is just 1,700 votes.
Update: Twenty-five minutes later, another source is reporting that Milwaukee’s absentee ballots have already been counted and are reported in the overall precinct totals.
Update: It’s 2 a.m. ET and the precincts that have yet to report are coming in at a glacial pace, so I’m going to call it a night. The good news is that Prosser leads by almost 2,000 votes with just 55 precincts still to come in. The bad news is that almost all of those precincts are in counties that have broken for Kloppenburg. Her big targets are in Milwaukee, where 12 precincts are outstanding, and in Eau Claire, where 21 remain. Both are breaking roughly 60/40 for her. Beyond that, she can pick up spare change in Ashland (six precincts outstanding) and Sauk (eight precincts). And there’s still one fateful precinct still out in Dane County, which is populous and where she’s been winning big all night. Brace yourselves for a recount and endless court battles. Belated exit question: What happens if the state supreme court has to decide the election — and deadlocks at 3-3 after Prosser recuses himself?