President-elect Donald Trump did something in November that no Republican had done in over 30 years – won the presidential vote in Wisconsin.
Trump’s victory was something few Wisconsin Republicans would have predicted as 2016 began. In February, Governor Scott Walker – who dropped out of the race in the fall of 2015 – said he was surprised by Trump’s success in the primaries. “It’s one of the most remarkable things we’ve seen in modern political campaign history,” Walker said, during a time when he was not endorsing any particular candidate.
Trump did have trouble winning support from mainstream Republicans though, with many backing Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the April primary. Trump was critical of Walker and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) of Janesville when he campaigned here.
Cruz won the primary, but Trump secured the nomination. While many state Republicans voiced concerns about that, Senate GOP leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) predicted they would come home in November and get aboard the “Trump train.”
Some of Trump’s inflammatory comments did continue to rile up Wisconsin Republicans though, including Speaker Ryan, who often found himself at odds with the nominee. Ryan said he would speak up for “conservative principles,” if he witnessed them being distorted.
Despite polls showing Trump trailing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton among likely Wisconsin voters, he made repeated stops here during the fall campaign and began to close the gap heading in to November. Trump ended up claiming the state on election night by just under 23,000 votes…something a Republican had not done since Ronald Reagan in 1984.
The now President-elect Trump returned to the state earlier this month to offer his thanks to voters with a rally in West Allis that featured many of the state’s top Republicans, including several who had been hesitant to support him on the campaign trail.
The state officially cast its 10 Electoral College votes for Trump on December 19th.