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"It would be very easy to think that abortion will do the work for you. And the answer is no."

Ben Wikler on what Tuesday's election means for 2024 in Wisconsin and nationally

Happy Veterans Day, Off Message readers.

You’ve probably noticed, we’re taking a slight1 break from the typical Friday format this week. Mostly it’s just that opportunity knocked and I thought you’d find this conversation informative and valuable. But it also fits the moment well.


With some notable exceptions the great majority of post-election punditry and analysis is produced and consumed as results spill out, on election night and the following day. But the better, more accurate, lower-demand stuff comes days, weeks, months, sometimes even years later, when data sets are fuller or complete and have been transparently analyzed.

So I wanted to close out the week with something more focused and expertise driven than my snap reactions to Tuesday’s off-year elections. There’s still a lot of meat on that bone, and we’ve gotta chew it all—it’s really important that everyone understands what happened Tuesday as clearly as possible, because it contains lessons for the much more significant election a year from now, and the story isn’t as simple as “Dems keep winning so things must be going OK.”

That’s why I thought it’d be good to get a trustworthy campaign-professional’s view of Tuesday’s results and how they map on to politics in other states and nationwide, and few people can speak to that more intelligently than Wisconsin’s Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler.

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I spoke with Ben earlier this year for an episode of Positively Dreadful (RIP) about how Democrats can do a better job using signal moments to illuminate the dangers and ugliness of right-wing extremism. And I figured (correctly, it turns out!) he’d have important insights about Tuesday, because this week’s returns are already informing his year-out planning for 2024 in Wisconsin2.

Among other things, we discussed the get-me-off-this-rollercoaster state of politics, the risk that complacency over reproductive freedom will return in states where abortion is (for now) legal, and what a “reverse coattails” campaign looks like in practice, since Dems may be running one. Watch, listen, read, and/or clip and share—all the tools are in your hands!




For those who’ve never heard of Wisconsin, it’s an important state in our weird Electoral College system.

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Why mainstream political media misses the mark so often, and how to consume it like a news professional.