At a protest at the state capitol this afternoon organized by local social justice group Freedom Inc, the scene rapidly turned from anxious to optimistic after the Associated Press announced that Joe Biden had won Wisconsin.
“Y’all, they just called Wisconsin! Wisconsin has gone blue!” An organizer shouted into the mic to a crowd of around a hundred.
“Look at us now. It’s four years later: we walked the neighborhoods, we walked the streets, we talked to people. The importance of community coming together is being illustrated in this moment,” they added.
Some results still need to roll in, as every last absentee ballot is counted — and Biden still has further to go before he can claim the presidency from Donald Trump. As of 5:30 this afternoon, Biden has 264 electoral votes, out of 270 needed to win the race.
The AP also called Michigan for Biden several hours after it called Wisconsin. They’re both part of the blue wall of states Biden needs to reach 270 electoral votes.
Elections officials and experts warned for patience, as counting every last ballot in this infection election will take some time beyond election day. But last night, the President baselessly claimed votes were being cast after polling places closed.
They weren’t being cast — they were being counted.
Trump’s campaign has already signaled they may ask for a Wisconsin recount. If the campaign follows through, they’ll be forced to foot the cost of that effort themselves. The state will only field the cost of a recount if the margin is a quarter of a percent or less. That would mean a difference of less than about 8,200 ballots.
Instead, Biden received about 20,500 more votes than Trump. That’s nearly a clean flip from 2016, when Trump won the state by fewer than 23,000 votes.
In a statement earlier today, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien made baseless accusations that there had been “reports of irregularities in several Wisconsin counties which raise serious doubts about the validity of the results.”
But Governor Evers today pushed back on those claims.
“Our elections officials work so goddamned hard. For the president of the United States, without any data to support him, to talk in that way about our elections officials,” he says. “It’s just more of the same BS, frankly. I’m really tired of it.”
Even if some votes do end up swinging to Trump as part of a recount effort, it’s unlikely to switch Wisconsin from blue to red. According to the AP, statewide recounts historically only shift elections a few hundred votes in one direction or another — meaning Biden’s lead is likely to persist.
Participants in today’s protest expressed optimism about Biden’s odds.
“I’m a very cautious person, so maybe optimistic is not the right word,” says Madison resident Pablo Akulies.
Kathryn Anderson echoes Akulies’ concerns. She’s worried Trump’s recount efforts could be the first in a series of efforts by the President to tamper with Wisconsin’s votes. That concern could be valid. The President’s campaign has already filed lawsuits to stop vote counting in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
“I’m still worried,” Anderson says. “I think everyone here is celebrating, and I’m really happy, but I’m still worried. I’m worried he’s going to call for a recount and he’s going to mess with the votes in some way. I’m worried we’re not going to get the President we actually elected.”
Tina Wilder spent most of last night watching return results pour in for Wisconsin. Overall, she’s optimistic and believes Biden’s win in the key swing state is a harbinger of his larger victory for the presidency.
Wilder credits at least part of Biden’s victory in Wisconsin to the state’s Black voters.
“I just think that we showed out. A lot of people called the Black vote out to come. We organized, we came out here, we became educated voters and we voted for who we thought would help the Black community the most.”
This year’s Presidential race drew more Wisconsin voters than any other in the state’s nearly 200 year history, according to the AP. 3.3 million Wisconsinites cast a ballot in this hotly contested election.
Here in Dane County, one of the liberal strongholds of Wisconsin, Biden coasted to an easy victory, securing more than three quarters of the vote.
4:00 PM today is the deadline for Wisconsin’s municipalities to finish tabulating votes. From there, they’ll be sent on to the county level. Those results will be sent for final approval from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which will formally certify the results by December 1st.
Any future recounts would be conducted by Wisconsin’s 72 counties, not by individual municipalities.