Republican veto-proof supermajority possible in state Legislature

According to an expert, it would take more than a seven-point win to block the governor's veto pen

MADISON, Wis. — A veto-proof supermajority is within grasp for Republicans in the state Legislature under the maps approved by the state Supreme Court Friday, but it would require a win the GOP has not seen in the last decade.

According to John Johnson, a research fellow at Marquette University, it would take a 7.2-point win over Democrats.

“It’s a better statewide performance than we’ve seen a Republican get in one of these marquee races for a long time,” said Johnson. “Scott Walker never achieved that kind of victory, despite being elected statewide several times. Ron Johnson has never had that large a victory.”

In comparison, the only candidate that has come close to that margin is Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin. In 2018, she defeated then-Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir by 11 points — a margin so large that media outlets called the race for Baldwin within five minutes of the polls closing.

“We can imagine it happening in a year where the Republican base is really enthusiastic and the Democratic base is less so,” said Johnson.

RELATED: Wisconsin Supreme Court adopts Republican-authored legislative maps, reversing earlier approval of Evers’ maps

The pendulum almost always swings away from the president’s party in midterm elections, Johnson said. Democrats also traditionally fare worse than Republicans in low turnout elections due to their voter base. Older, more educated, and wealthier voters are usually those who turn out most — groups that previously favored Republicans.

Johnson said a shift by educated voters away from Republicans to Democrats may help temper a “red wave.”

“We’ve seen surprising strength in polling nationally and in Wisconsin among older voters for Joe Biden and the Democratic Party,” he added.

An appeal to rural voters, a key group that helped deliver Baldwin her massive victory, may also be key for Democrats looking to mitigate losses or Republicans trying to run up the score.

“It’s not just that they need to drive up their statewide vote share. They need to drive up their performance in specific areas in the way that Baldwin’s campaign was able to do in 2018,” Johnson said.

Harder for Democrats to win simple majority than for Republicans to win supermajority

On the flip side of the coin, Democrats looking for the chance to retake the Legislature are unlikely to see that happen under the current maps.

If Republicans and Democrats voted in equal measure, according to Johnson’s analysis, Democrats would lose two seats in the Assembly, leaving the chamber 63-36 with Republicans in control. For Democrats to win a one-seat majority, their margin of victory would have to have to be higher than Baldwin’s win in 2018 — a 12.4-point margin.

Assembly Seats Based On Voter Swing

Graphic from Marquette University’s John Johnson showing change in Assembly makeup depending on partisan swing.

“The new legislative maps from the WI Supreme Court look to be far and away the most politically skewed court-imposed maps anywhere in the country,” UW-Madison professor Robert Yablon said.

His analysis, which compares the new Wisconsin map to previous court-appointed maps, shows the new map is three to four times more partisan biased.

Though the maps could face further legal challenges, it is likely they will stay in place through the November elections. Candidates started circulating nomination papers on Friday, and in his concurring opinion, swing Justice Brian Hagedorn said a new legal challenge is not feasible before November.

View the Senate and Assembly maps.