Wisconsin Budget

What Makes State a Unique Primary

Big turnout and strong manufacturing economy among many factors that make it unique challenge for candidates.

By , Wisconsin Budget Project - Mar 31st, 2016 02:49 pm
Voting Line

Voting Line

National attention turns to Wisconsin this week because the Badger State’s presidential primary on April 5th is the only one between now and April 9 (the Wyoming caucus).  For those who are trying to understand some of the demographic and economic context for the April 5th election, we’ve pulled together a variety of facts about Wisconsin and how it compares to other states.


  • Population size and voting
    • Wisconsin’s population – 5.77 million in 2015 – was 20th largest last year.
    • Voter turnout on April 5 is expected to be about 40% of the state’s 4.4 million eligible voters (compared to just 15.7 % in Iowa[i]), thanks in part to the fact that it’s also the general election date for a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat and for local elected officials – with 5,891 candidates competing for 3,888 offices across the state.
  • Racial diversity
    • Wisconsin is a very white state – 82.2% in 2014 (excluding Hispanics and Latinos), compared to 62.1% nationally.[ii]
    • Only about 6.6% of Wisconsinites are Black, which is one half the national average in 2014 of 13.2%.[iii]
    • Just 6.5% of Wisconsinites are Hispanic or Latino, compared to 17.4% for all states in 2014.[iv]
    • Wisconsin is home to 11 federally recognized American Indian tribes and bands, and in 2014 there were about 50,700 American Indians in Wisconsin (0.9% of the state population, which was 18th nationally).[v]
    • The racial and ethnic composition is significantly different among younger Wisconsinites. For example, Hispanics comprised 11.3% of Wisconsin children in 2014, compared to only 5.0% of Wisconsin adults.
  • Racial and ethnic disparities
    • Wisconsin leads the nation in having the largest disparities between White children and African American children. For example, a composite score based on 12 indicators of child well-being found that Wisconsin ranked last among Black children, yet 10th best for White children.[vi]
    • Wisconsin had the 2nd highest residential housing segregation for Blacks and Whites in 2010, second only to Montana.[vii]
  • Immigrants
    • Only 4.7% of Wisconsinites are foreign-born, versus 13.1% nationally.[viii]
    • Although immigrants are a relatively small part of the Wisconsin population, their numbers have been growing rapidly, and it is estimated more than 40% of hired workers on dairy farms are immigrants.[ix]
    • Wisconsin’s Hmong population (a little over 47,000 in 2010), is the third largest in the U.S., and in terms of percentage of the state population (0.8%) is second nationally, behind only Minnesota.
  • Elderly population
    • 15.2% of Wisconsinites were 65 or older (compared to 14.5% nationally),[x] which ranked 22nd.[xi]
  • Education
    • Wisconsin is well above average in its high school graduation rate; 90.8% of Wisconsin adults age 25 or older have at least a high school degree or GED, vs. 86.3% nationally.[xii]
    • On the other hand, only 27.4% of Wisconsinites have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 29.3% nationally.[xiii]
  • Poverty
    • The number of Wisconsin children living in poverty has grown substantially (an increase of 48,000 from 2007 to 2014[xiv]), but the percentage in poverty in Wisconsin, 18.4%, was still significantly below the national average of 21.7% in 2014.


Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us