State party chairs discuss 2022 outlook, challenges ahead

NOW: State party chairs discuss 2022 outlook, challenges ahead


MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin's party chairs met in Madison to talk about the obstacles they have to overcome to win over voters ahead of the 2022 elections.

State Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler and new GOP Chair Paul Farrow spoke at a WisPolitics event Thursday, Oct. 21, and both emphasized there's no doubt Wisconsin will be crucial to win next year.

"No one has any illusions on how intense this is going to be," said Wikler. "You are expecting a race to be decided by a single vote and you are going to do everything you can to turn out every possible voter."

Historically, statewide elections are close in Wisconsin, with the 2018 governor's race, and four of the last six presidential elections all decided by less than a percentage point. It's the main reason why neither party is taking anything for granted.

Both parties are gearing up for what's expected to be another nail biter election with U.S. Senate and the governor's office on the ballot.

For Republicans, Farrow said the party is currently working on bringing former President Donald Trump supporters back to the polls in 2022 despite his name not being on the ballot.

"Get people to realize that the Republican Party is not just one person," said Farrow. "We're going to get these people to realize that it's not one individual, it's about beliefs [Trump] had that this county is great."

Democrats on the other hand, are trying to convince voters things have improved since Trump left office, with a Democrat in the White House and in the governor's mansion.

"The President's party has to make the case that Democrats are delivering on things they ran on -- support for small business, dropping unemployment, getting kids back in school," said Wikler.

Key Issues

A group of pollsters also spoke at the event, talking about the top issues they believe will turn out voters, including the economy, inflation, education, etc. But this year, many stressed how the COVID-19 pandemic remains on the ballot as mask and vaccine mandates have resulted in political debates.

"Right now, we may think it's traditional bread and butter issues, but the choice is dramatically different because of what you're doing right now, what we all are doing about COVID-19," said Paul Maslin, Democratic pollster with FM3 Research.

Charles Franklin, director of Marquette University Law School Poll, added both parties are not doing enough to run on "big ideas," referencing when Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson was in office and was able to find compromise on issues not everyone agreed with such as tax cuts, school choice programs, etc.

"I don't see any of our party in Wisconsin pursuing a big idea agenda, in part because the deadlock between governor's office and the Legislature makes it kind of pointless to purse a serious policy agenda."

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