Wisconsin's 2022 primary turnout approaches 26%, highest in 40 years

The 25.8% turnout in Wisconsin's 2022 partisan primary on Aug. 9 was the most since 26.9% in 1982 — turnout in the 2018 primary, which featured a large field of Democratic gubernatorial candidates, was 23%.

Associated Press

August 11, 2022

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Voters fill out their ballots while standing in a row of privacy cubicles in a large room with blank walls.

Voters cast their primary ballots at a polling place in Appleton on Aug. 9, 2022. (Credit: PBS Wisconsin)

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By Associated Press


MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Turnout in Wisconsin’s primary election that featured a hotly contested Republican race for governor neared 26%, the highest for a non-presidential primary in 40 years.

Unofficial results for the Aug. 9 primary show that nearly 693,000 Republicans voted in the governor’s race and more than 501,000 Democrats voted in the Senate primary. Interest fell in that race won by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes after his three top challengers dropped out two weeks earlier.

Still, the 25.5% turnout was the best since 26.9% in 1982. Turnout in the 2018 primary, which featured a large field of Democratic gubernatorial candidates, was 23%.

This year’s governor’s primary on the Republican side featured construction company co-owner Tim Michels, who was endorsed by Donald Trump and former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. Michels won by about 5 points.

Michels will face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in November.

Barnes easily won the Senate primary. There were also statewide primaries on the Republican side for attorney general and on both sides for secretary of state, lieutenant governor and treasurer. There was also a Democratic primary for the open 3rd Congressional District seat in western Wisconsin. State Sen. Brad Pfaff won that and will face Republican Derrick Van Orden.

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