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PolitiFact Wisconsin: Should Wisconsin's political maps reflect the state's 50-50 split?

Posted at 7:01 PM, Dec 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-17 20:01:06-05

MILWAUKEE — The battle to redraw political maps for Wisconsin lawmakers is likely to be decided by the courts.

Political Reporter Charles Benson, along with PolitiFact Wisconsin, look at a claim that suggests district boundaries should reflect the state's 50-50 split.

Wisconsin is often the epicenter of close statewide elections - just look at the presidential race in 2020 and the governor's race in 2018.

But when it comes to congressional seats and state lawmaker races, Republicans hold a clear advantage.

So during the redistricting battle, Democrats like State Senator Janet Brulee argued: "Wisconsin is almost equally divided on partisan lines," and therefore the new maps should be drawn to "represent that fifty-fifty split."

But PolitiFact Wisconsin says it's not a simple black or white issue - or in this case red and blue.

"Democrats are much more concentrated geographically, especially in Milwaukee and Madison," said Greg Borowski with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Republicans, meanwhile, are more spread out across the state and effect they're distributed more efficiently when it comes to measuring out the vote."

For example, President Biden won in Wisconsin by 20,000 votes in 2020 thanks in part to big vote totals in Milwaukee and Dane counties, yet President Trump won 58 out of 72 counties.

PolitiFact Wisconsin says a non-gerrymandered map could increase the number of competitive seats, but it still wouldn't create an even split.

"Even with more favorable and less gerrymandered maps, experts say that even if Democrats were to win at the top of the ticket by 51% of the vote, Republicans would still likely control the legislature," said Borowski.

PolitiFact Wisconsin rated Brulee's claim Mostly False - meaning the statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.