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Scott Walker's Ticket to Ride: Obama in the White House?

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Wisconsin voters have elected a governor from a different political party than the sitting president in 26 of the last 31 elections dating back to 1932; the GOP is 15-4 with a Democrat in the White House while Democrats are 1-18

scottwalker10.JPGA recent POLITICO article by James Hohmann entitled "Scott Walker's Stealth 2016 Strategy" outlines the Wisconsin Republican governor's plan to "Win reelection next year in this purple state without moderating a record that has won many hearts in the conservative base; let the other GOP hopefuls get sullied by the mud pit of Congress and each other; then pounce in 2015."

That first step - winning reelection in 2014 - can't quite be rated as a slam dunk as of yet, given Wisconsin's aforementioned purple state status.

However, prognosticators all agree the seat will likely be held by Walker next year - a particularly logical assessment to make at this time given the fact that the Wisconsin Democratic Party is still searching for a candidate and much of the left's anti-Walker fuel was exhausted after 2012's failed recall attempt.

Add to that a little historical advantage Walker might have by the fact that there is a Democrat in the White House.

A Smart Politics review of Wisconsin's gubernatorial electoral history since the Great Depression finds that the state has voted for the candidate of a political party other than the one occupying the White House in 26 of the last 31 cycles, or 84 percent of the time.

Only five times over the last 80+ years have Wisconsin residents sent to Madison a governor of the same political party as the sitting president, and only once has a Democratic candidate been elected governor in the Badger State across the 18 contests in which a Democrat was in the White House during this span:

· 1954: Republican Walter Kohler, Jr. was elected to a third term as Governor of Wisconsin in the middle of Dwight Eisenhower's first term as president.

· 1956: Wisconsin voted Republican Vernon Thomson into office with Eisenhower in the White House.

· 1962: With John Kennedy serving as president, Wisconsinites elected Democrat John Reynolds governor.

· 1986: Republican Tommy Thompson won his first of four terms with Ronald Reagan in the White House.

· 1990: Thompson was reelected to a second term while George H.W. Bush served as president.

During the other 26 cycles, Wisconsinites said 'no' to the party of the president and voted for a gubernatorial candidate of another party:

· In 15 cycles, a Republican governor was elected in Wisconsin with a Democrat in the White House: 1938, 1940, 1944, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1978, 1994, 1998, 2010, 2012.

· In eight cycles, a Democratic candidate was victorious with a Republican serving as president: 1932, 1958, 1960, 1970, 1974, 1982, 2002, 2006.

· In three cycles, a Progressive won the governor's race with a Democrat in the White House: 1934 (Philip La Follette), 1936 (La Follette), 1942 (Orland Loomis). (Note: Loomis died before his term started and Republican Lieutentant Governor-elect Walter Goodland ascended to the office).

Perhaps the Wisconsin GOP has been particularly successful in gubernatorial races in shifting the focus for the state's problems to Washington, D.C.

Because for more than three-quarters of a century, an apparent recipe for success for Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial candidates has been having a Democrat in the White House - winning 15 races and losing just four since 1932.

(Three of these four losses came at the hands of the GOP-splintering Progressive Party - which captured the governor's race in 1934, 1936, and 1942 as mentioned above. The GOP also lost in 1962).

What makes this trend in Wisconsin so interesting is the fact that the Badger State has not frequently been on the losing end when it comes to casting its Electoral College votes in presidential elections.

Since 1932, a president served in the White House for whom Wisconsin cast its Electoral College votes in 26 of the 31 cycles in which a gubernatorial election took place .

In other words, the state has been schizophrenic in casting its vote for president and governor for decades.

The only exceptions came in 1946 and 1948 (Wisconsin voted for Thomas Dewey in 1944), 1990 (Wisconsin voted for Michael Dukakis in 1988), and 2002 and 2006 (Wisconsin voted for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004).

Wisconsin Vote for Governor vis-à-vis Party Control of the White House, 1932-2012

Year
Sitting President
Party
Elected Governor
Party
2012
Obama
Democrat
Scott Walker
Republican
2010
Obama
Democrat
Scott Walker
Republican
2006
G.W. Bush
Republican
Jim Doyle
Democrat
2002
G.W. Bush
Republican
Jim Doyle
Democrat
1998
Clinton
Democrat
Tommy Thompson
Republican
1994
Clinton
Democrat
Tommy Thompson
Republican
1990
G.H.W. Bush
Republican
Tommy Thompson
Republican
1986
Reagan
Republican
Tommy Thompson
Republican
1982
Reagan
Republican
Anthony Earl
Democrat
1978
Carter
Democrat
Lee Dreyfus
Republican
1974
Ford
Republican
Patrick Lucey
Democrat
1970
Nixon
Republican
Patrick Lucey
Democrat
1968
Johnson
Democrat
Warren Knowles
Republican
1966
Johnson
Democrat
Warren Knowles
Republican
1964
Johnson
Democrat
Warren Knowles
Republican
1962
Kennedy
Democrat
John Reynolds
Democrat
1960
Eisenhower
Republican
Gaylord Nelson
Democrat
1958
Eisenhower
Republican
Gaylord Nelson
Democrat
1956
Eisenhower
Republican
Vernon Thomson
Republican
1954
Eisenhower
Republican
Walter Kohler, Jr.
Republican
1952
Truman
Democrat
Walter Kohler, Jr.
Republican
1950
Truman
Democrat
Walter Kohler, Jr.
Republican
1948
Truman
Democrat
Oscar Rennebohm
Republican
1946
Truman
Democrat
Walter Goodland
Republican
1944
Roosevelt
Democrat
Walter Goodland
Republican
1942
Roosevelt
Democrat
Orland Loomis*
Progressive
1940
Roosevelt
Democrat
Julius Heil
Republican
1938
Roosevelt
Democrat
Julius Heil
Republican
1936
Roosevelt
Democrat
Philip La Follette
Progressive
1934
Roosevelt
Democrat
Philip La Follette
Progressive
1932
Hoover
Republican
Albert Schmedeman
Democrat
* Died before taking office. Replaced by Republican Lieutenant Governor Walter Goodland. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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