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Debate reaction from a hotly contested state

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (CNN) --CNN will have live post-debate reaction -- including an exclusive Webcast-- throughout the day from Wisconsin, a key state in the presidential race between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Wisconsin, with 11 electoral votes, has voted Democratic in the last four elections but is a toss-up at this point in the race.

Chicago Bureau Chief Jeff Flock will be at various locations in Milwaukee to get reaction to the latest -- and last-- Bush-Gore debate. During the 1 p.m. EDT hour, he'll host live Webcast on CNN.com.

He will begin at the at Froedert Memorial Lutheran Hospital, a private, not-for-profit, teaching hospital and affiliate of the Medical College of Wisconsin. Next, he will hear from Milwaukee's Hispanic community, a population that has tripled statewide since 1980 to 185,000. Later, Flock will be at the Midwest Express Airlines maintenance facility.

Both campaigns will be represented in the key state on Wednesday. Bush is scheduled to campaign in Eau Claire and LaCrosse, while the Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman will campaign in Wausau.

Key state for candidates

Electoral History: Usually a swing state, Wisconsin has voted for the Democratic candidate in 4 of the last 6 presidential elections, voting the other way only to support Ronald Reagan in his two landslide victories in 1980 and 1984.

Political Control: Wisconsin is a state with a long tradition of political reform. Famed Progressive presidential candidate Bob LaFollette represented the state in the U.S. Senate for most of the early 20th century. Today the state is led by politicians such as Sen. Russ Feingold (D), a leading advocate of campaign finance reform, and Gov. Tommy Thompson (R), who is best known for his early advocacy of welfare reform.

The two parties are closely balanced in statewide politics. Democrats currently hold both U.S. Senate seats, the state senate, and have a 5-4 edge in the state's U.S. House delegation. Republicans control the governorship, the state house, and 4 of 9 U.S. House seats.

Voter demographics: Courting the senior vote is important here; 18 percent of Wisconsin voters were 65 years old or over in 1996 versus 16 percent nationwide. Also that year, seniors voted heavily for Clinton in Wisconsin, supporting him over Bob Dole by an 18-point margin. In 1996, 37 percent of the Wisconsin electorate were Catholic versus 29 percent nationwide. Thirty percent of all voters were from a union household versus 23 percent nationwide.

Geography: The state Democratic Party receives most of its base support from historically blue-collar Milwaukee and the university town of Madison. It also generally runs well in the more sparsely populated upstate counties, though voters there tend to be anti-gun control and often socially conservative.

The Republican base is found in the more affluent northern and western suburbs of Milwaukee, as well as in a few of the more lightly populated counties of central Wisconsin. The biggest battleground in the fight for Wisconsin is likely to come in the suburbs located to the south of Milwaukee near the Illinois state line. Racine and Kenosha counties historically have had a strong union presence, but in recent years they have become home to increasingly affluent white-collar communities as well.

Two other large battlegrounds are in LaCrosse and Eau Claire in western Wisconsin. As in Racine and Kenosha, there are fiscally conservative, socially liberal Republicans and fiscally liberal, socially conservative Democrats here, which makes the overall area a notable target for both parties.

Brown County (Green Bay) and the nearby Fox River Valley make up the state's third major battleground. And Sheboygan County, located midway between Milwaukee and Green Bay, might be a pivotal area as well. This was historically a Democratic union stronghold, but a more affluent constituency has moved into the area in the past two decades, making it a more competitive target for both parties.

Other: Wisconsin, along with Oregon, New Mexico, and Washington, could provide significant support for Ralph Nader in the presidential election.

 
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WHAT'S AT STAKE

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WHERE THEY STAND
See where George W. Bush and Al Gore stand on the major issues.

THE STATES
Who are your elected officials? What is the past presidential vote and number of electoral votes in your state? What are the presidential primary results and exit polls? Find out with these state political and election facts.

ELECTION GUIDE
Get Election 2000 zip code searchable candidate biographies and other material for races for governor, Senate and House in our Election Guide.

FOLLOW THE MONEY
How much money have the candidates raised? Here are their quarterly reports to the Federal Election Commission.

RACES
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Allpolitics.com is a partner in the Web White and Blue rolling cyber-debate, a daily online exchange among the major presidential candidates. Look for twice-daily updates Sunday through Friday until election day.


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Wednesday, October 18, 2000


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