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It's decision time in the Badger State

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Ellsworth,Wisconsin 54011 http://www.piercecountyherald.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/27/0613/electionwebgraphic.jpg?itok=oVRtxtno
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It's decision time in the Badger State
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

Wisconsin voters will decide today (Tuesday) if the pollsters were right.

The presidency is the top item on this Election Day ballot and most recent independent polls had Democrat Barack Obama with a double-digit lead over Republican John McCain.

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The last time a president carried Wisconsin by double-digits was in 1996.

Democrat Bill Clinton won a second term with a 10.3 percent margin over Republican Bob Dole, with Ross Perot also in the mix.

The highest Wisconsin percentage for a Democrat was in 1988, when Michael Dukakis had 51.4 percent.

The last time a Republican carried the Badger State was in 1984, when Ronald Reagan won a second term with just over 54 percent.

However, the GOP came very close the last two elections. George W. Bush lost both his contests here by less than 0.5 percent.

To have a chance today, McCain will need a big win in the Fox Valley where Bush won by 11 percent in 2004 and still lost the state.

Mark Graul, who headed the last Bush Wisconsin campaign, says Obama's support in the big Democratic counties will tell the story. If Obama gets more than a third of the votes in Milwaukee and Dane counties, like Kerry did in '04, Graul says McCain might not be able to make it up elsewhere.

Big turnout

State officials expect a record 3.2 million people to vote in today's elections.

That's 74 percent of the voting-age population and they'll decide a lot more than the presidency.

Control of the State Capitol is at stake.

If Democrats can gain three seats in the Assembly, they'll run both houses of the Legislature for the first time in over two decades. Also, with a Democratic governor in Jim Doyle, the party would have virtually no resistance passing things they couldn't approve in the last session, like universal health care and a statewide public indoor smoking ban.

All 99 seats are up in the Assembly, where Republicans now hold a 51-47 majority.

Democrats have an 18-15 edge in the Senate, and they're expected to keep that.

The hottest Senate contest is in the Milwaukee area, where long-time Rep. Sheldon Wasserman, D-Milwaukee, is trying to unseat Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills.

All eight of Wisconsin's U.S. House seats are also up today.

However, the only competitive contest is expected to be in northeast Wisconsin, where first-term Democrat Steve Kagen has a re-match against former state Assembly Speaker John Gard.

Voters will also decide numerous county and local offices, and of course, there are lots of referendums.

All polls close at 8 p.m.

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