Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin won a second term in the upper chamber on Tuesday. Baldwin had consistently polled ahead of her opponent, Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir.
The Democratic incumbent was one of her party’s ten senators battling re-election in states President Trump won two years ago, though his margin of victory in the Badger State was less than one percentage point.
Baldwin was an early target of outside spending. By late November of 2017, outside spending against the former congresswoman exceeded outside spending against all the other Democratic incumbents combined. Vukmir won a contentious primary against Kevin Nicholson in mid-August, a battle that turned harsher than Republicans in the state hoped. Baldwin’s 2012 victory over former Gov. Tommy Thompson, state GOP operatives believe, was at least partially attributable to a brutal primary that left him bloodied.
Vukmir, a longtime ally of Gov. Scott Walker, eagerly embraced Trump, hammering issues like immigration, the Kavanaugh hearings, and the national anthem. She focused heavily on the overprescription scandal at a Veterans Administration center in Tomah, for which Baldwin admitted wrongdoing and fired an aide. Baldwin, for her part, ran on a progressive platform, including so-called Medicare-for-all, though she stopped short of calling for ICE to be abolished over the summer. She drew headlines for a campaign ad about her mother’s prescription drug addiction.
Trump’s win in the state, together with Baldwin’s liberal voting record, initially had Republicans hopeful Wisconsin presented a pickup opportunity. But the race ultimately proved to be less competitive than expected.