In 2024, eyes will be on Wisconsin, a key battleground state for the presidential election and home to a number of competitive statewide races that could tilt which party holds power in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
It’s bound to be a year filled with dairy breakfast campaign stops, presidential visits, and debates on health care, abortion, the economy, infrastructure and more.
Here’s what you need to know to prepare for the year ahead.
Wisconsin will likely be getting a lot of attention from presidential candidates in 2024 because it’s a swing state that has the potential to sway the results of the election. This will probably mean many visits from candidates, possible debates hosted in the state, and many campaign efforts on the ground.
Democratic President Joe Biden is running for reelection. On the Republican side, former President Donald Trump is running again and has been ramping up his authoritarian rhetoric, vowing to be a dictator “only on day one” if he wins. Other Republicans in the running are Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Milwaukee will host the Republican National Convention in July; President Joe Biden has visited the state three times this year; and Vice President Kamala Harris announced she would kick off a reproductive rights tour in Wisconsin in January — all demonstrating that candidates are prioritizing the battleground state.
U.S. Senate election
Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is running for reelection in 2024. U.S. senators serve for six-year terms and are reelected in staggered even-numbered years. Senate elections are statewide.
While a handful of lesser-known Republicans have officially launched bids against Baldwin, no big-name candidates have joined the race yet.
Businessman Eric Hovde is expected to run, according to National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Steve Daines. Hovde, who owns homes in both Madison and Laguna Beach, California, is CEO of real estate development group Hovde Properties. He ran for Senate in 2012, but lost in the GOP primary. He has said he opposes abortion and the Affordable Care Act.
Baldwin is from Madison and was first elected to the Senate in 2012 after serving in the U.S. House of Representatives for 14 years. She was the first woman from Wisconsin to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and the country’s first openly gay member of either chamber. She also served in the State Assembly and on the Dane County Board and the Madison City Council.
Baldwin has been a champion for affordable health care and lower prescription drug costs and has worked on behalf of manufacturers and farmers in Wisconsin as well as older Americans and health care workers.
All eight of Wisconsin’s U.S. representatives are up for reelection in 2024, but only one race is likely to be competitive.
According to the Cook Political Report, the 3rd Congressional District currently leans Republican in favor of first-term Rep. Derrick Van Orden of Prairie du Chien, who flipped the seat in 2022 following the retirement of longtime Democratic Rep. Ron Kind.
So far, four Democrats are hoping to challenge Van Orden in November.
Eau Claire business owner Rebecca Cooke ran in 2022 but came in second in the primary. She grew up on a dairy farm and served on Gov. Tony Evers’ Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Cooke, who joined the race early on, is the founder of a nonprofit called the Red Letter Grant, which supports female entrepreneurs.
Wisconsin state Rep. Katrina Shankland of Stevens Point has also joined the race. She was first elected to the state Assembly in 2012. According to her campaign, Shankland has a record of collaboration across the aisle and has worked on such issues as affordable health care in rural areas and sustainable farming practices.
Former La Crosse County Board Chair Tara Johnson is also in the running. She worked for the United Way for 15 years, seven of those as executive director of the La Crosse division. She was first elected to the county board in 2000 and served for 20 years, and was the first woman elected chair. Her campaign is centered on abortion rights, saving democracy, economic opportunity and rural communities.
Eric Wilson of Eau Claire is also running. He is a mortgage loan officer and would be one of Wisconsin’s few openly gay legislators if elected. His campaign is centered on accessible health care, education, economic growth and sustainable farming practices.
A conservative who is closely aligned with former President Donald Trump, Van Orden was present at the rally that preceded the insurrection by supporters of Trump at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Van Orden has been criticized for berating a teenage library page in Prairie du Chien over a children’s Pride Month display and for cursing and yelling at teenage Senate pages for taking photos on the floor of the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
All 99 of the state Assembly seats and 16 of the 33 state Senate seats are up for grabs next fall.
How these races will look depends on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. It’s currently reviewing a lawsuit that seeks to throw out the state’s gerrymandered legislative maps and redraw them before the 2024 election. The court heard arguments in November.
Voting and important dates to remember
There are a couple of dates to keep in mind for upcoming elections and things to do to get ready to vote.
Feb. 20 – Spring primary
This primary will be for any of the judicial races on the April 2 ballot that need to be narrowed down to two candidates.
April 2 – Presidential preference primary election and spring election
The presidential preference primary is the means by which voters will select their political party’s chosen candidate tin the November general election. Voters can only cast ballots for candidates from one political party in this election. It is a nonbinding advisory primary, and party delegates will not be required to base their votes on its results at their national conventions. Two Wisconsin Court of Appeals seats and a number of local judicial seats will also be up for election.
Aug. 13 – Partisan primary
Candidates from each party for the presidential, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and state Assembly and Senate races will be chosen to compete in the general election.
Nov. 5 – General election
The grand finale: Voters will choose the winners in the races for president, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and state Assembly and Senate.
To find out more about voting and elections, go to MyVote Wisconsin at myvote.wi.gov. You can see your upcoming elections, view who’s on your ballot, make sure you’re registered to vote, find your polling place, see how to vote absentee by mail, and more. In Wisconsin, you need an ID to vote, and you can register same-day at the polls with proof of residence, or you can register online, by mail, or in person at your local clerk’s office ahead of time.