A major reason Scott Walker survived recall is that voters were persuaded that the recall was happening for illegitimate reasons:
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”….
Walker’s massive cash advantage painted the recall process itself as the bad guy here…
Funny, I don’t remember anything like that happening in 2003, when Gray Davis, a Democrat, was recalled and replaced as California’s governor by Arnold Schwarzenegger, at the time a hero to the Republican right. I remember that the recall process was portrayed as a circus. But I don’t remember the conversation centering on the argument that recalling Davis was an affront to common decency and an insult to democracy.
As I was Googling around to test my memory of those days, I was reminded that the phrase most commonly associated with the Davis recall — see it here and here and here and here and here — was “voter revolt.”
Revolt? Wow, that sounds scary and dangerous and violent. It sounds anti-democratic. Ahhh, but it was a voter revolt. That’s quite a packed phrase. You say “voter revolt” and you’re implying that somehow the guy who’s being recalled got there in defiance of the wishes of voters — even though, obviously, he won an election. The phrase implies that the election was the illegitimate part of the process and the recall is the legitimate part.
And notice that it’s a voter revolt and not a conservative or Republican or right-wing revolt. Everyone knows that the people who tried to oust Scott Walker were those dirty liberals. The people who ousted Gray Davis were voters.
That’s the message. It’s similar to the framing of recent protest movements: the angry members of Occupy Wall Street are a bunch of hippies, but the members of the tea party movement who shouted down members of Congress at 2009 town meetings and revolted at the ballot box in 2010 were righteously angry Americans.
That’s how we look at right-wing revolts — especially when millions of right-wing dollars are available to shape our perceptions.
(X-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.)