As Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. Sandy Pasch campaign with just days left before Tuesday's , a few swing communities could be key to inching out a victory in the 8th Senate District race.
Both Darling and Pasch have respective strongholds that historically have voted heavily Democratic or Republican.
For example, there's little question that Darling, a Republican from River Hills, will have strong support in Menomonee Falls, Germantown and Mequon. And Pasch, a Democrat from Whitefish Bay, will likely carry Shorewood, Glendale and the small portion of Milwaukee that's in the 8th District.
In those communities, the favored party candidate won with more than 55 percent of the vote in the most recent presidential, gubernatorial, state Senate and Supreme Court races.
However, the story is different in Whitefish Bay, Fox Point, Brown Deer and River Hills, where the political environment is a shade of purple rather than red or blue.
Race could be a close one
The latest poll conducted by , shows Darling with a 5-point lead over Pasch. Two weeks ago, a poll released by the indicated just a 1-point difference between the two.
It’s unknown how this will change by Election Day, but all signs indicate a close election and votes in these "purple" communities could swing the tide of the election.
“Swing voters are going to be very significant in these elections,” said Gillian Morris, press secretary for the state Democratic Party. “The election this summer is obviously unprecedented. It’s going to be very interesting and it will be all about getting out the vote.”
Swing voters may play a role in Whitefish Bay and Fox Point, where both communities have alternated between supporting Democratic and Republican candidates.
In 2008, President Barack Obama and 8th Senate District candidate Sheldon Wasserman, both Democrats, carried Fox Point. However, the same community voted for Gov. Scott Walker in 2010 and Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, a Republican, in April.
“I think this is an indication that residents in Fox Point are voting on the issues,” said Fox Point Village President Mike West. “They are examining the candidates, staying informed and actively participate in local government. Residents don’t perennially vote one way or the other based on party lines.”
Whitefish Bay residents also showed that they won’t always vote along party lines. Obama carried Whitefish Bay in 2008, and Democrat Tom Barrett narrowly did the same in the 2010 governor's race. In April, the tables turned and Prosser carried Whitefish Bay with less than 55 percent of the vote.
“Whitefish Bay has sidewalks and streetlights, giving it an urban feel. Yet, its demographics and housing values yield a picture of an exclusive village with a suburban identity,” said village Trustee Kevin Buckley. “Generally speaking, Democratic candidates speak to urban issues and do better there, Republicans speak to rural issues, and do better there.
"Whitefish Bay and similar suburbs are somewhere in between, and that yields a near 50-50 split between red and blue voters,” he added.
Are candidates targeting 'swing' communities?
While the swing communities could play a key role in the recall elections, both the Darling and Pasch campaigns say they aren’t specifically targeting those areas - or any areas, for that matter.
Rather, they are looking to rally support throughout the district.
“Our strategy is really to get out into every community. We aren’t just stopping in our base areas. We are everywhere,” said Dave Kreisman, Pasch’s campaign manager. “We are seeing a lot of support in Menomonee Falls, Germantown and Thiensville as well.”
Andrew Davis, Darling's campaign manager, also said the campaign's approach is not to give special attention to any one community.
Instead, they are working to meet with Darling supporters in every community – whether it’s traditionally red or blue. For Davis, the key to this election is turnout.
“We haven’t taken any special priority in one area or the next. We know this is a mid-summer race, and every vote will count, so we are trying to give attention to every supporter who is standing with us,” Davis said. “This election is all about turnout and we’ve known that since March.”