Late WI primaries still make an impact in presidential race - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Late WI primaries still make an impact in presidential race

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(WAOW) -- Wisconsin's primary election is still several months away. Some political experts said by the time April comes around, the republican nominee may already be decided.

More than half of the states in the country will have their primary election before Wisconsin. But political experts said that doesn't mean candidates can take the badger state off their map.

Wisconsin voters will hit the presidential primary polls about two months later than they did four years ago. State officials decided to combine the primaries with the local, non-partisan elections to save money.

Political experts, like St. Norbert College's political science professor Charley Jacobs, said candidates often spend more time and effort campaigning in states with earlier primaries. Voters in ten states will fill out their ballots on Super Tuesday, which is in March this year.

"If everything works out as typical, after that primary, usually everybody else is an also-ran," said Jacobs. "So for those states that have their primaries after that date, there's less interest by the candidates in the state and by the voters."

Jacobs said it's easier for primary voters to pick the candidate who ultimately ends up winning when they get to watch what happens in earlier elections. In 2008, John McCain won the badger state with 55% of the votes. He went on to win the republican nomination. Mike Huckabee came in second and Ron Paul was a distant third. But that doesn't mean all Wisconsin voters have their way. Huckabee won 15 counties in 2008, including Marathon and Portage -- some by as much as 10%.

"Wisconsin is still going to have its place as a swing state," said Jacobs. "It sort of straddles between going republican and going democrat which means it'll be fiercely contested."

Experts said candidates will stay pay close attention to Wisconsin because of the intense political climate.

"In an odd way, the fight over Governor Walker and his tenure in office might accrue benefits for us on a national scale and the attention we might get from candidates," said Jacobs.

That means Wisconsin will stay on the political map, even with a later primary in 2012.

Wisconsin's primaries are open. That means when you get your ballot, you can decide whether you want to vote for the republican or democratic candidates.

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