WAUKESHA, Wis. - The Nov. 3 election surprise in Waukesha County wasn't who won, but rather, the margins. President Donald Trump won the county, but the gap was smaller than in 2016, and Democrats are playing the long game in the decidedly red county.
Waukesha County delivered what could be record turnout. Nearly 268,000 cast their ballot for president. The Waukesha County clerk said roughly 70% came from absentees.
Mareno said he was not expecting a Joe Biden victory in Waukesha County, but said a closer look at the numbers shows blue progress in a reliably red county.
"From 2016 to 2018 err, 2020, we moved 5.5 points and 25,000 votes," Mareno. "That's a huge, huge win for us."
In 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton delivered 79,000 votes in Waukesha County. In 2020, Joe Biden took close to 104,000 with 38.8% of the vote. President Trump landed a victory with 59.6%.
Ballot counting in Waukesha County
"We're seeing that the Republican Party has left a lot of the older Republican voters," said Mareno. "This is the first election since the 1980s that a Republican failed to capture 60% in Waukesha County. It's a great sign for us going forward."
Mareno says turnout and same-day voter registration helped. Republicans now consider Brookfield, Elm Grove and Menomonee Falls as battlegrounds in the county.
In total, the Waukesha County clerk said 20,000 absentee ballots were processed at the Brookfield location alone.
Republican Party of Waukesha County Chairman Terry Dittrich acknowledged the fight, telling FOX6 News:
"Our county is obviously solidly red. We had a big turnout last night and good, strong turnout from our Republican base supporting President Trump. That's obviously an area where Democrats feel they can make in-roads in Waukesha."
Turnout at the polls was so big in Pewaukee on Nov. 3, the clerk said extra poll workers were needed to meet demand.