Following a long and grueling campaign season, voters went to the polls Tuesday to decide a number of local, state and national races. Roman and Marilyn Cavosi cast their ballots in the town of Pelican.
Tammy Danielczak casts her vote in the town of Pelican. Voter turnout in Oneida County was at about 86 percent, according to Oneida County Clerk Mary Bartelt.
11/8/2012 7:30:00 AM More than 80 percent of voters cast ballots in Oneida County Romney wins popular vote in the Northwoods
Early on Election Day, Oneida County Clerk Mary Bartelt predicted voter turnout figures of about 75 percent.
"I truly thought it was going to be higher, but I didn't want to go out on a limb," Bartelt said Wednesday morning after final unofficial results showed 21,781 Oneida County voters had cast ballots, a turnout of about 86 percent.
That percentage is based on the 25,383 registered voters there were in the county heading into Election Day.
It doesn't include Tuesday's new registrations.
Bartelt said the exact number of new registrations will be determined after the Board of Canvass is completed.
She received reports that there were around 100 new registrations in the town of Woodruff, about 8 percent of the total number of ballots cast in that township.
Last presidential election, Bartelt said Oneida County's turnout was less than 80 percent.
"I think it's due to a lot of new voter registrations and the early voting," Bartelt said of Tuesday's election. "People really got out there and voted."
As of the middle of last week, Bartelt said the town of Minocqua reported about 500 early ballots cast.
President Barack Obama won his re-election bid Tuesday, but in Oneida County the majority of those 21,781 voters sided with Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
The former Massachusetts governor received 10,905 votes in Oneida County, 466 more than Obama.
Twelve of the 21 municipalities in the county favored Romney.
Most of the local support for Obama came in the city of Rhinelander where the president outpaced Romney by 866 votes. In Vilas County, turnout was also strong. Of the county's nearly 16,000 registered voters, 88 percent cast ballots. Romney received 56 percent of the vote in Vilas. Obama received 43 percent.
"As party chair, all I can say is mission accomplished," said Andy Loduha, Oneida County Republican Party chair. "We did everything we could. That's the objective of every county chair like myself. You have to do what you can to win your county."
Ideally, the collective effort adds up to a win for the party's candidate, he said.
But Tuesday, Obama took nearly 53 percent of the vote statewide earning Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes.
"My knee-jerk reaction was that maybe it was a win for the Obama campaign, but I couldn't help but think it was a loss for America," Loduha said.
Though Obama's electoral college win was decisive, the popular vote was tighter which Loduha said is indicative of a very divided country.
"I hope it is a wake-up call to the president," Loduha said. "I would've preferred a landslide (victory) so there is a mandate for the future direction of the country. Before the election the country was divided and after the election it is divided which I find a bit scary. Hopefully, both Obama and Romney were sincere in their remarks that we have to find some common ground. I would've wanted that whether Obama won or Romney won."
Loduha noted that Obama remains president, the Senate remains under Democratic control and the House continues to be Republican-controlled which has been a "formula for stalemate" in the past.
"I hope Obama in his last term will look at this as an opportunity to do the nation building he's talked about," Loduha said. "That attitude of winning or losing has to end. We have to find a way to move the country forward."
He called Romney's loss a "missed opportunity."
"I thought in Mitt Romney we had someone who understood the dynamics of turning a company around and turning a country around," Loduha said.
Oneida County Democratic Party chair Paul Knuth said the small margin of victory for Obama in the popular vote didn't concern him.
"The main thing is the changing demographic shift of the vote," Knuth said. "That's the key."
He noted that Obama received strong support from minorities as well as younger voters, ever-increasing portions of the population.
"You have to look at the whole picture," Knuth said. "You have to make sure your message is for everybody and not just a select group of people."
With the election now in the rear-view window though, Knuth said it's time to focus on issues, no matter a person's party affiliation, particularly on the local level.
"We have to hold the people going to Madison for us accountable and looking out for our best interests up here," Knuth said.
Kyle Rogers may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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