Map of Wisconsin highlighting WOW Counties
Map of Wisconsin highlighting WOW Counties

WOW counties is a common media term in southeastern Wisconsin in the United States which refers to the initials of Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington counties. They lie to the west, north, and northwest of Milwaukee, respectively, and are part of the Milwaukee metropolitan area.[1] Collectively, the three counties have an estimated 2019 population of just over 650,000. Like the collar counties surrounding Chicago, these counties have a primarily white population, and unusually so considering the trend of suburbs around cities in the Rust Belt region becoming more racially diverse.[2] Racine County to the south of Milwaukee County, excluding the city of Racine, also has the same demographics outside the city (though some communities have lower average income), but usually goes unmentioned due to the city of Racine's population being just under 69% of the county's population.

The WOW counties are generally among the most Republican areas in the state. All county offices are held by Republicans; indeed, there are almost no elected Democrats above the county level. None of the counties have supported a Democrat for president since Lyndon Johnson's national landslide of 1964. The vast majority of the state party's voter turnout efforts (along with those of outside organizations) are focused on maximizing turnout from those three counties to counteract the turnout from Milwaukee and Dane counties (home to Milwaukee and Madison) and the cities of Racine and Kenosha, which generally lean Democratic. Local conservative talk radio stations such as WISN (1130) and the late morning and midday shows of WTMJ (620) also target their program's topics and talking points more to the WOW counties rather than their city of license, Milwaukee.[3][4][5][6]

Presidential election results[7]
Year Republican Democratic
2020 60.88% 253,780 37.67% 157,029
2016 60.92% 224,747 32.59% 120,246
2012 67.03% 253,640 32.00% 121,104
2008 62.40% 225,053 36.50% 131,637
2004 67.57% 240,471 31.63% 112,574
2000 65.65% 205,422 31.15% 97,464


  1. ^ "Workforce observations for Milwaukee County/WOW counties (May 2004)". Wisconsin Digital Archives. May 2004. Retrieved 2017-12-04.
  2. ^ "Base Politics: Why Scott Walker's current troubles were entirely predictable". Slate. 23 February 2015.
  3. ^ "Wisconsin's Swing State Status Hinges on "WOW" Counties". CBS 58. Retrieved 2017-12-03.
  4. ^ Opoien, Jessie (October 6, 2016). "Wisconsin Senate GOP leader predicts 'WOW' counties will lead Donald Trump to victory". The Capital Times. Retrieved 2017-12-04.
  5. ^ "How And Where Trump Won Wisconsin in 2016". WisContext. 2016-11-18. Retrieved 2017-12-04.
  6. ^ "Reporter: Trump Still Struggling With Conservative Vote In State's Most Republican Counties". Wisconsin Public Radio. 2016-10-03. Retrieved 2017-12-04.
  7. ^ "More Wisconsin Elections Results". Wisconsin Elections Commission. Retrieved 2020-06-24.