Mistermix covered some of this earlier on the Wisconsin recall, but I wanted to expand on it. The good news: Turnout in Wisconsin was massive yesterday. The bad news: the election wasn’t about Scott Walker at all, but whether or not recalls over policy were even appropriate…and Wisconsin said “no”.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker has won the Wisconsin governor’s recall over Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, holding onto his job after his push to slash collective bargaining rights for public employees sparked intense statewide backlash.
Walker’s win caps a chaotic year in Wisconsin, marked by heated demonstrations, endless campaigning and a flood of outside money, all of which vaulted the state from ordinary battleground to Ground Zero of the national political debate — and elevated Walker to national superstardom among the Republican faithful.
Walker was favored from the outset, bolstered by an enormous cash advantage, and a firewall of support from national Republican figures.
And Walker went on to win by pretty much the 7 point margin all the polls were predicting, 53-46. So what happened? It’s actually quite simple if you look at the exit polls. The final question there was the key to the entire recall election. When asked “Do you think recall elections are appropriate” some 60% of Wisconsin voters said “Only for official misconduct” and another 10% said “never”. And despite the allegations of Walker’s shadowy dealings, the 60% who said that policy wasn’t a reason to recall Walker voted 68-31% for Walker.
That was your ball game, right there. Scott Walker’s $30 million plus convinced voters that a recall over policy and allegations alone was unusual (it was) and unprecedented (also true given only 2 other sitting governors being recalled) and harmful to the democratic process (something I’d have to agree with). Walker’s massive cash advantage painted the recall process itself as the bad guy here, not Barrett and certainly not Walker himself. All but one of the down-ticket Republicans survived their recall as a result. Some 18% of folks who favor Barack Obama in November voted not for Scott Walker, but signified that the bar of recalling Walker had simply not been met.
Anyone who tells you this has to do with unions, President Obama, the economy, jobs, Mitt Romney, same-sex marriage, the transit of Venus or the season finale of Mad Men is full of crap. This recall election was about precisely one thing — the recall election itself — and it lost pretty resoundingly. That’s it. That’s the entire election. Republicans spent a huge amount of cash convincing people to vote Walker as a protest against being able to exercise their rights to vote to be able to remove a sitting politician. They used tens of millions to define the election on terms favorable to Walker and the GOP, and it worked as intended as
all nearly all incumbent Republicans survived.
I’m very surprised that the number of people who voted for Walker in that 60% of people who said a recall was only appropriate for official misconduct was roughly two-thirds. it should have been 80%+. Walker would have won by 15-20 points, except massive turnout in Democratic areas of the state limited the margin to just 7 points. And even then, a significant percentage of Democrats voted not for Walker, but against the recall process. Barrett didn’t have a chance in hell with $30 million in ads going “You don’t want to be responsible for such an awful precedent on recalls, do you?” even with the better than 2008 turnout. As mistermix said, it was a heavy lift in the first place and the Dems get credit for making it as close as it was.
End of story.