RACINE COUNTY — As Racine County goes, so has America. That’s how it’s been in the last seven presidential elections, anyway.
In each of those elections, from 1992 onward, Racine County has voted in favor of the man who would be president: backing Donald Trump last time around, preceded by support for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, voting in favor of George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and supporting Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996.
In the three elections prior, Racine County supported Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984, but then crossed the aisle to support Democrat Michael Dukakis — who lost to George H.W. Bush in the overall election but still took Wisconsin’s electoral votes.
That isn’t to say that Racine County will be a perfect forecaster for the election this time around. Two years ago, the county as a whole sided with incumbent U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat who won, but also supported then-Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican who lost.
“Folks who live in Racine County really think for themselves,” said Racine Alderman and Democrat Trevor Jung. “There are just a lot of people in the county. It’s the fifth-most populous county in the state … what’s different is its makeup, and its diverse makeup in terms of the electorate.”
“There are a couple things to consider when looking at Racine County’s importance … in terms of election,” said Jung, pointing to how Racine County has been a good litmus test for the state and for the country.
As a whole, Racine County is diverse in income levels, race, population density and other factors that correlate with how people tend to vote. Despite political differences, Racine County Republican Party board member Ken Brown and Jung came to the same conclusion about Racine County being “a microcosm of the State of Wisconsin.”
Brown stated that, “from Green Bay Road to the lake, we are as liberal as Massachusetts,” a state that hasn’t backed a Republican for president since Reagan. “But from the Interstate to Burlington we are as conservative as Utah and Idaho,” two states that haven’t voted for a Democrat since 1964, when Lyndon B. Johnson won re-election in a landslide over Barry Goldwater.
Racine is “a representative county which could show the way Wisconsin goes,” Jung said.
The last time Racine County broke from the state as a whole and was won by the eventual loser in a presidential election was in 1976, when incumbent Republican Gerald Ford received just 348 more votes in the county than Democrat Jimmy Carter.
Both Jung and Brown think their guy — Joe Biden and Donald Trump, respectively — is going to win Racine County and the state.
“I have never seen an office this busy,” said Brown, whose optical business EyeOpenerZ is adjacent to the new Racine County GOP Office at 337 Main St. “We’re almost out of everything with Trump’s name on it we can sell.”