Four Republicans have held onto their seats: state Sens. Robert Cowles, Alberta Darling, Sheila Harsdorf, and Luther Olsen. Cowles and Harsdorf were considered pretty safe; Democrats were optimistic about beating Olsen.
Democrats have taken down two state senators — Dan Kapanke (R), and Randy Hopper. They needed to win three races tonight to be able to back the state senate. Two Democratic state senators face recalls next Tuesday.
Polls closed at 8 P.M. local time — that’s 9 P.M. Eastern Time. Real-time totals are here. We are liveblogging the results here:
2:07 A.M.: Here’s my wrap-up on what happened tonight... er, yesterday. Thanks to everyone who followed along!
1:36 A.M.: The AP has called the final race for state Sen. Alberta Darling (R), meaning Democrats cannot win back the state senate. However, Democratic officials are crying foul.
12:32 A.M.: The Wisconsin Democratic Party is accusing Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus of tampering with the election results.
“She is once more tampering with the results of a consequential election and in the next hours we will determine our next course of action,” said party chairman Mike Tate in a statement. “For now, Wisconsin should know that a dark cloud hangs over these important results.” A party spokesman added that “dirty tricks are afoot.”
Democrats are already suspicious of Nickolaus. In April, challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg appeared to have bested state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser until 7,582 uncounted votes were found in Waukesha. That race also became a referendum of sorts on the state’s collective bargaining law.
The final race has not been called by the AP, but local news organizations have declared Darling (R) the victor.
12:07 A.M.: Darling is currently in the lead with most votes in from Waukesha County. Milwaulkee County has yet to finish reporting.
11:36 P.M.: Democrats have won a second state senate district — Oshkosh Deputy Mayor Jessica King (D) has beaten state Sen. Randy Hopper (R). King lost narrowly to Hopper in a 2008 race that went to a recount; this time around Hopper took hits not just for his voting record but for his messy divorce and relationship with a staffer.
11:09 P.M.: Democrats have their first win: The AP has called state Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D) the victor over state Sen. Dan Kapanke (R) in the 32nd district, which has been trending Democratic in recent years.
10:53 P.M.: Another Republican victory, this time in the 14th district, where state Sen. Luther Olsen (R) beat state Rep. Fred Clark (D) AP waited until nearly all the votes were in to call this race, because Clark’s home county of Baraboo was one of the last to report.
While Democrats expected to lose the first two races called tonight, they were optimistic about this one. Democrats now need to win all three remaining races to have a shot at taking back the state senate.
State Sen. Randy Hopper (R) has taken the lead over challenger Jessica King (D) in the 18th, but this race is very close. Some Democrats were expecting an easier win.
10:34 P.M.: Democrats currently lead in three out of the four remaining races, but reporting is lagging in the 18th where Oshkosh Deputy Mayor Jessica King (D) just took a slim lead over state Sen. Randy Hopper (R).
10:21 P.M.: The AP has called the 10th district race, where state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R) beat teacher Shelly Moore (D). Democrats can afford to lose one more race and still take back the state senate. Right now, they lead in two and are behind in two.
“We need to move beyond the divisiveness that began with the protests this spring,” Harsdorf said in her victory speech.
10:13 P.M. The AP, along with local networks, has called the 2nd district race for state Sen. Robert Cowles (R), who defeated Democrat Nancy Nusbaum. Democrats were never very confident about this race, although polls showed it tightening in recent days.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Sandy Pasch (D) has taken the lead over state Sen. Alberta Darling (R) in the 8th, but results are still slow to come in here. Republicans lead in three of the five remaining races.
9:55 P.M.: An hour after polls closed, Republicans lead in all but one race — the 32nd district, where Democrats were most heavily favored. About 50 percent of precincts have reported in two districts: the 2nd and the 10th. In the 8th and the 18th — two of the most closely watched races — results are very slow to come in.
State Sen. Alberta Darling (R) in the 8th, who faces state Rep. Sandy Pasch (D), just spoke to her supporters, saying, “I plan on winning this election and continuing to work for you.”
9:15 P.M.: Labor sources tell The Fix they are cautiously optimistic about their chances of winning the majority, noting that turnout is especially good for them in the 14th district, where state Sen. Luther Olsen (R) faces state Rep. Fred Clark.
8:54 P.M.: With lines still stretching out at some polling places, voting could very well extend past the poll closing.
8:00 P.M.: Turnout is high in every race, with some county clerks predicting that it could reach 2010 levels. Machine malfunctions in Fond du Lac delayed voters briefly this afternoon, but there have been no major problems.
Meanwhile, Gov. Scott Walker (R) has signed redistricting legislation that will make it hard for Democrats to win in 2012, no matter what happens tonight.
While we wait for results, catch up with some of our past coverage.