Home » Eyes on Wisconsin as battleground state one of four to hold presidential primary | US elections 2024

Eyes on Wisconsin as battleground state one of four to hold presidential primary | US elections 2024

by John Jefferson
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Voters in Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island and Wisconsin cast ballots in the presidential primaries on Tuesday. The results, particularly those in the crucial battleground state of Wisconsin, could provide more clues about the general election in November.

Hundreds of delegates are up for grabs, but Joe Biden and Donald Trump have already amassed enough delegates to win their respective nominations. Despite the anticlimactic nature of the results, voters still had a chance to register their discontent with the nominees.

Connecticut and Rhode Island gave voters the opportunity to vote “uncommitted” in the primary, while Wisconsin offered a similar option of “uninstructed delegation”. Wisconsin Democrats will be closely watching the turnout for “uninstructed delegation” after progressive activists launched a campaign encouraging voters to withhold support from the US president to protest his handling of the war in Gaza.

The Listen to Wisconsin campaign, based on similar efforts in states like Michigan and Minnesota, has attracted support from some rank-and-file union members as well as an influential group of low-wage and immigrant workers in the state.

Those voters represent key constituencies whose support Biden will need to win in November, and even a small erosion in support could spell trouble for him in Wisconsin, where he defeated Trump by just 0.6 points in 2020. In 2016, the former president defeated Hillary Clinton by roughly 0.8 points in Wisconsin, and he hopes to repeat that performance this fall.

Polls close at 8pm ET in Connecticut and Rhode Island and at 9pm ET in New York and Wisconsin, with results expected shortly afterwards, so Biden will soon have a better sense of his standing in the battleground state.

With the presidential nominees already decided, Wisconsin Republicans are more closely focused on two ballot measures related to election management in the state. The first measure raises the question of abolishing the use of private funds in election administration, and the second asks whether “only election officials designated by law may perform tasks in the conduct of primaries, elections, and referendums”.

Republicans have encouraged supporters to vote “yes” on both measures, after their legislative efforts to change election rules were repeatedly blocked by Wisconsin’s Democratic governor, Tony Evers. Republican leaders have expressed pointed criticism of the grant money that Wisconsin election officials received from the nonprofit Center for Tech and Civic Life in 2020 to address the challenges of navigating the coronavirus pandemic.

Those leaders have derided the grant money as “Zuckerbucks”, a reference to the $350m that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, gave to the non-profit to help election offices across the country in 2020.

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Republicans argue that such funding must be abolished to ensure voters’ trust in election results, but Democrats warn that the approval of such a measure could drain resources from government offices already stretched too thin from budget cuts. On the second ballot question, Democrats have criticized its wording as vague and accused Republicans of attempting to intimidate nonpartisan voting rights groups from their usual registration and turnout efforts in the state.

“Rather than work to make sure our clerks have the resources they need to run elections, Republicans are pushing a nonsense amendment to satisfy Donald Trump,” Ben Wickler, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said in a statement last month.

“Thanks to long-standing Wisconsin law and the dedicated service of thousands of elections officials in municipalities across the state, our elections are safe and secure. Donald Trump’s lies about his 2020 loss shouldn’t dictate what’s written in our state constitution.”

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