Electoral math for toss-up Wisconsin in a “disorienting” week

By: - March 13, 2020 9:46 am
Election 2020 art image with flying ballots, donkey, elephant

Election 2020 art image by conolan from Pixabay.

This week’s Cook Political Report shows Wisconsin to be where we’ve come to expect our state to be for the 2020 presidential election — a true toss up. 

The report, which divides the states into “solid,” “likely” and “lean” for Republican and Democratic states, keeps a running tab on where it predicts the electoral college tallies will land. 

According to the March 9 report, “Democrats have 232 electoral votes in the Solid, Likely and Lean categories and would need 39 (38%) electoral votes from the Toss Up column.” And “Republicans have 204 electoral votes in the Solid, Likely and Lean categories and would need 67 (66%) electoral votes from the Toss Up column.”

That leaves the following 102 electoral votes up for grabs and deciding the election, according to Cook: 

Arizona (11), Florida (29), Nebraska 2nd CD (1),  Michigan (16), North Carolina (15), Pennsylvania (20) and Wisconsin (10).

If the Nebraska number is confusing, that state and Maine each give two electoral votes to whichever candidate is the statewide winner and one vote per congressional district. All 48 other states and the District of Columbia are winner-takes-all scenarios. 

The Cook Political Report is a self-described nonpartisan, independent newsletter that has been around since 1984 when it was founded by Charlie Cook.

His take on the latest polls notes that “The financial markets are in a free fall, economists are debating the probability of the economy tipping into a recession, health experts are discussing whether the coronavirus epidemic has or will soon become a pandemic [the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic shortly after the report’s release], and Joe Biden now looks increasingly like he will be the Democratic nominee. Other than that, nothing going on. It’s fairly disorienting.”

Cook describes a situation that looks promising for Democrats given Donald Trump’s “underwater” approval ratings, but cautions that this election cannot be viewed as pundits have viewed previous elections. 

“Putting too much emphasis on the economy or the health of someone’s 401(k) accounts ignores so many other things that are influencing our politics and that have little if anything directly to do with money and income,” writes Cook. “The other mistake for Democrats is to spend too much time admiring their national poll leads and not so much on the far more challenging task of winning 270 electoral votes. We all know that the national popular vote and $5 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.”

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Melanie Conklin
Melanie Conklin

Melanie Conklin was the Wisconsin Examiner's founding Deputy Editor, serving from its launch July 1, 2019, until Feb. 1, 2022. She is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications before returning to journalism at the Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.