You Come at the King, You Best Not Miss

Here’s a high bar:

Sixty percent of Wisconsin voters said in CBS News exit polls that recall elections are only appropriate for official misconduct. Twenty-seven percent said they think they are suitable for any reason, while 10 percent think they are never appropriate.

Exit polling showed tepid majority support for public unions (51%), with equally tepid support for Walker’s handling of collective bargaining (52%). This reflects the resentment towards public unions based on the perception that they’re getting a better deal than the rest of us :

Labor’s arsenal is full of arguments: By many measures, public sector workers receive less total compensation than their private sector counterparts. Pensions are more efficient than 401Ks. All public sector workers “contribute” to their retirement, because pensions are deferred compensation – money workers earned through work. Good jobs strengthen the overall economy.  And most important: You deserve good health insurance and a pension too.

All of that is true. But as I learned as a union organizer, policy arguments aren’t what tend to change people’s politics, and resentments are often stronger than reason (research suggests that this is even more true the more education someone has). What changes people’s politics are their experiences: Coming out. Getting mugged. Becoming part of a fighting union.

In hindsight, picking a recall election to settle an issue where there isn’t an overwhelming majority opinion wasn’t a smart tactic. I’m not discounting the huge amount of money spent on Walker’s behalf–unfortunately, I think we just saw a preview for a lot of Congressional races this Fall.  But when you look at the exit polls, it’s pretty clear that this was a heavy lift in the first place.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit






84 replies
  1. 1
    PeakVT says:

    One of the Senate seats was flipped, so more damage by Walker and the right will be limited for a time.

    I’m interested to see a postmortem on GOTV and turnout. Maybe there will be some good news in the details.

  2. 2
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    Incumbent, people don’t like seeing elections overturned.

    Meanwhile I can see Walker 2016 from the Right. lol

  3. 3
    different-church-lady says:

    They are getting a better deal than the rest of us. THAT’S THE VERY FUCKING REASON TO HAVE MORE UNIONS, NOT LESS.

    I ain’t Paul Krugman, but I’m still plenty tired for trying to reason with these people.

  4. 4
    mistermix says:

    @PeakVT: GOTV looked pretty good – roughly the same turnout as 2010, which is a lot for a special.

    If I understand it correctly, flipping the Senate seat wasn’t much of a practical win since it’s out of session and there’s a Senate election this Fall.

  5. 5
    nitpicker says:

    You’d think the American (TM), free market approach to this would be to say “Those union guys are getting a better deal than me. What are they doing right?” But the country’s been training workers for far to long to just let the bosses make the decisions about what they should get.

  6. 6
    lol says:

    It’s more symbolic than anything since they probably won’t meet again this year, but we appear to have to taken control of the State Senate.

    I think the biggest mistake was renominating Barrett. Made the whole effort seem like sour grapes and rematches are never interesting.

    I was also going to say they should’ve waited until November, but turnout seemed strong enough today that it wouldn’t have made a difference.

  7. 7
    Spectre says:

    Indeed, the game was too rigged. Between weird scheduling, and the spending disparity, worker’s should not have not fought on such an uneven field.

    They should’ve gone with their first instinct and unleashed the strikes.

    Hopefully this is a wakeup call for working people that democrats are not going to get it done for them.

  8. 8
    WereBear says:

    @different-church-lady: We’ve already got the people who use reason. Time to expand the repertoire.

  9. 9

    @different-church-lady: Exactly. Shouldn’t the answer to “you union people make more than the rest of us” be somewhere along the lines of, “Hop on board, and you will, too!”

    If we apologize for the effectiveness of unions, that would seem to me the weakest possible stance, where we’re admitting they bring benefits yet saying those benefits are unearned or unjust. No wonder the opposition smashes us. Union members should be out flaunting it, and then inviting others to share in.

  10. 10
    Lori says:

    It sucks Walker wasn’t booted. But, there’s a huge win in Wisconsin, that no one is talking about. The state senate just flipped Democrat! That’s a huge deal, since previously Walker had both a Republican senate and house and could pass anything he wanted. The Dem that won is Lehman (Racine), and it’s a big deal.

  11. 11
    brantl says:

    But when you look at the exit polls, it’s pretty clear that this was a heavy lift in the first place.

    Hindsight, so easy, so hard to get early.
    Funny, this election was in the can in an hour. When have you heard of an election that could be called in an hour? Stinks, to me.

  12. 12
    PeakVT says:

    @mistermix: I wondering about how turnout stacked against expectations by the left. Did certain groups underperform or overperform (in Madison, perhaps)? And while the state Senate is out, it could be called into special session.

  13. 13
    Mike says:

    Several points:

    The base in WI demanded a recall. The leadership really couldn’t ignore the will of the majority of its members. Hindsight is 20/20. At the time, it made sense, and yes, it was an uphill battle fought with no help from national Dems. We lost. Had we not tried, people would have been screaming about “keeping our powder dry” and whatnot.

    There was no way to effectively time the recall for November. The GAB (which runs the elections in WI), has been notoriously unreliable and flaky. Knowing them, they would have scheduled the recall a week after the general election. It also would have given Walker more time to fundraise.

    According to exit polls 18% of Walker voters will vote for Obama in the fall. The cognitive dissonance is amazing, really, but Walker has some sort of magic hypnotic spell up there. Had these voters not betrayed us, Barrett would have won. The same voters that gave Walker a 7 point win are giving Obama a 6 point win. Does it make sense? No, not really.

    Winning the State Senate was not just symbolic. We now have that seat until 2014, and we need every single one. It also prevents Walker from calling a special session to ram through more crap of his in the meantime.

  14. 14
    Mike says:

    @PeakVT: turnout did not meet expectations. Final exits show more republicans than democrats voting. We did OK in Milwakee and great in Madison, but terrible in other Dem locations upstate. Total turnout was better than 2010, but not by much. It still fell short of presidential levels. All in all, turnout wasn’t as good as we wanted, and 18% of our voters betrayed us, which was the final nail in the coffin.

  15. 15
    Quincy says:

    What happens if the John Doe investigation leads to indictment? He won’t resign and I don’t think we can go back to the recall well. Does he just continue as governor through the trial until convicted?

  16. 16
    satanicpanic says:

    Democrats were on the offensive, which is nice for a change. Republicans had to outspend us 7-1, good. Let’s do this 1,000 more times until the Kochs are tired of blowing money on these elections.

  17. 17
    Mike says:

    @Quincy: Yeah, pretty much. And we can laugh at how foolish WI voters will look. Hopefully, that will generate some GOP backlash, but who knows. Walker is the hypnotoad up there. They absolutely adore they guy no matter what shit he pulls.

  18. 18
    Mike says:

    @satanicpanic: Well, they didn’t blow it. They won!

  19. 19
  20. 20
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Quincy: Republican; he falls upwards and becomes Mitten’s VP nominee,

  21. 21
    mistermix says:

    @Mike: I agree that hindsight is 20/20. I hope this election will help us learn a lesson about future recall efforts.

  22. 22
    Mike says:

    @mistermix: Yeah, recalls only work in California.

    Unfortunately, there was little else that could be done. The WI constitution has not ballot referenda on anything. Recalls were the only way to send a message.

  23. 23
    MattF says:

    My politically savvy pals in the region (Democrats, fwiw) told me a month ago that this was looking like a loss because the electorate viewed it as public unions vs. Walker. It’s just a fact that public unions have gotten demonized by conservatives– you need to meet that fact head-on and convince some of the skeptics in order to win, and that apparently didn’t happen in Wisconsin.

  24. 24
    jibeaux says:

    @different-church-lady: Some time ago, I saw a great political cartoon on it, where the final panel/response after the guy complaining about how good union members have it is “is that a complaint, or a membership application?”

  25. 25
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Mike: Of course he’s hypnotoad, he’s the asshole who will burn the house down these conservatives want. If I understand it correctly Walker has done nothing positive and all his policy has been punish the Left, every chance he gets. That sums up the thinking of a modern conservative.

  26. 26
    amk says:

    @Mike: Yup, dems just about matched their 2010 turnout (which was pathetic) while the repubs outperformed their 2008 turnout by about 75 K.

    Dems are their own enemies.

  27. 27
    lol says:

    @Mike:

    “At the time, it made sense, and yes, it was an uphill battle fought with no help from national Dems.”

    The DGA spent more on the recall than they did on the original match, the DNC dropped over a million while fundraising for Barrett and OFA put all their field resources behind the effort.

  28. 28
    flukebucket says:

    I heard that Walker had turned a 3.7 billion dollar deficit into a 90 million dollar surplus. At least that is what the voice on TV was saying this morning. Is there a flip side to that argument?

  29. 29
    satanicpanic says:

    @Mike: They spent money defending a candidate they otherwise shouldn’t have had to.

  30. 30
    lol says:

    @amk:

    So they really should have waited until November to take their shot at Walker?

  31. 31
    Waynski says:

    @PeakVT: Pierce is saying that NBC called the race as people were still waiting in line to vote because there weren’t enough ballots in Milwaukee while there was no shortage in the burbs. You can get them out, but if they can’t vote… well. We’ll all be part of the Romneybot soon enough.

  32. 32
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Mike:

    All in all, turnout wasn’t as good as we wanted, and 18% of our voters betrayed us, which was the final nail in the coffin.

    Know the phenomenon well. Those are the voters that made Olympia Snowe a fixture in a barnacle on the Senate

  33. 33
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @lol: That can’t be true, because front-pagers here said the party did nothing, and are calling for Wasserman-Schultz’s head as a result.

  34. 34
    Caz says:

    Well you certainly changed your tune quickly! You were all about the recall and getting this guy out of office. I guess you didn’t count on such widespread support for his policies in Wisconsin. I mean, the recall was an embarassment for his detractors. Public unions in Wisconsin get unequal treatment compared to the private sector, so it’s hard to complain that they are getting a raw deal when they still get a much better deal than any of us will ever get.

    But I’m glad to see you realize, at least now, that the recall effort was a farce.

    The real politicians who should be recalled are the dems who fled the state rather than show up for work and vote on legislation like they are paid to do. When you’re taking taxpayer money and refusing to do your job, that is grounds for a recall. You ought to call those politicians out. But they’re dems, so you won’t touch that with a ten foot pole.

    And you wonder why people don’t trust democrats these days. And I’m not saying the republicans are any better, but you certainly can’t say Walker is any worse than the dems, that’s for sure!

    They are all corrupt, but when you single out republicans all the time, you lose credibility, and that’s pretty much why the only people who read this blog are democrats. It’s an echo chamber of anti-republican sentiment rather than a legit blog where one might turn to keep up to date on current events.

  35. 35
    Shalimar says:

    Sixty percent of Wisconsin voters said in CBS News exit polls that recall elections are only appropriate for official misconduct.

    It has been awhile and my memory may be faulty, but wasn’t much of the advertising by Walker supporters before a month or so ago aimed at making the recall election itself seem illegitimate?

  36. 36
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @MattF:.

    It’s just a fact that public unions have gotten demonized by conservatives…

    I’ve been at too many state and county Democratic committee events where the split between skilled-trades unions in particular — not so much the service unions — and the public employees’ unions is glaringly obvious. And I’ve heard the “Why do they get to vote themselves pay raises… we don’t” argument made there by fellow Democrats.

  37. 37
    satanicpanic says:

    @Caz:

    It’s an echo chamber of anti-republican sentiment

    You say this like it’s a bad thing

  38. 38
    Mike says:

    @Caz:

    Public unions in Wisconsin get unequal treatment compared to the private sector

    That’s for sure… private sector CEO’s get massive tax breaks.

    so it’s hard to complain that they are getting a raw deal when they still get a much better deal than any of us will ever get.

    Divide and conquer. It works well. Meanwhile, the people with the truly better deal (the 1%) laugh all the way to the bank.

    The real politicians who should be recalled are the dems who fled the state rather than show up for work and vote on legislation like they are paid to do. When you’re taking taxpayer money and refusing to do your job, that is grounds for a recall. You ought to call those politicians out. But they’re dems, so you won’t touch that with a ten foot pole.

    They were doing their jobs. They were trying to prevent a group of workers from having their rights taken away.

  39. 39
    amk says:

    @lol: Who is they, organizers or voters ? Remember the earlier senate recalls didn’t go that great either for dems in WI. That should have given the organizers the pause (to rethink their strategy) and the voters the much needed enthusiasm (the typical dem Achilles’ heel). Both didn’t happen, imo.

  40. 40
    Raven says:

    @Caz:

    “the only people who read this blog are democrats”

    and douchebags like you

  41. 41
    Mike says:

    @lol: The DNC didn’t drop shit. They put up $115,000–the equivalent of a cup of coffee and a bag of donut holes for the the rest of us.

  42. 42
    PeakVT says:

    @amk: Marginally attached Dems are their own enemies.

    The reason I asked about GOTV is because I was wondering if, when a candidate is losing the air war massively, can a concerted GOTV effort make up for it. For off-cycle elections the answer seems to be no. (I think Madison, which is both a college town and the state capital, is unique enough to be discounted.)

  43. 43
    Mike says:

    @amk: there was a pause and a gut check, but by then it was too late. The wheels were already in motion, and the base was not going to take no for an answer.

  44. 44
    Spectre says:

    At the end of the day, it’s not entirely surprising. The New Democrats aren’t exactly opposed to union busting. Just look at Obama’s disastrous education policy.

  45. 45
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Caz: thank you but the entire there are professionals whose job it is to tell us both sides do it, what ever it is.

  46. 46
    lol says:

    @Mike:

    The DNC spent over a million. Sorry if that contravenes your fantasy.

  47. 47
    chopper says:

    really it all ended up being about money. walker outspent his opponent 10-to-1.

    guess that means mittens needs to find a billion dollars in a chest in his backyard.

  48. 48
    Dave N. says:

    I’m live in Wisconsin, and I really never saw the end-game for this recall for the Democrats. Walker won, and will take this as a mandate for his policies which aren’t working. If he had lost, he would have been made a right-wing martyr and the right would have immediately began planning to recall Barret next year.

    I think just leaving him to serve out his term would have been the best course of action. Walker is an idiot, and would do what all idiots do when given power – totally screw it up. Republicans were abandoning Walker back in Feb. 2011, and all the recall did was rally them back to his side. Without having faced the recall, Walker would have stumbled toward 2014 with an approval rating hovering around 30%. Now, after Romney likely loses in November, I’m betting Walker inserts himself as a serious contender for the presidency in 2016.

    There was just not a whole lot of upside either way for the Democrats here.

  49. 49
    amk says:

    @Mike: Well, one lives and learns. It’s clear dems need their own think-tanks and dem voters need to show at least some loyalty to their party, especially in critical elections. The repubs seem to excel in both.

  50. 50
    jonst says:

    where was Obama?

  51. 51
    dr. bloor says:

    I can’t believe some folks think the recall effort
    might not have been a good idea. We played offense, forced them to dump cash, kept that pond scum under the microscope for several months, tuned up the ground game for Nov., and got the Senate to prevent any pre-election legislative hijinx.

    Uphill battle, victory unlikely? Thanks for that, Captain Obvious. But there’s no real downside beyond annoying punditry for one or two news cycles–and having to listen to annoying concern trolls with 20/20 hindsight.

  52. 52
    Spectre says:

    @lol:

    And still got outspent 34242342 to 1. The GOP is not that much richer than the democrats. Even if we’re charitable and say they are 4 times more rich and powerful (they aren’t), the democrats still got outraised by significantly more than 4 to 1!

    And all after they convinced the workers not to strike because of their empty promises!

    When workers put these democrats first, these democrats will always put them last.

  53. 53
    bemused says:

    I don’t think it’s possible to “reason” with those who have union jobs, can retire before 60 with pension/health care and still bitterly hate unions.

  54. 54
    Spectre says:

    @amk:

    The problem here was too much loyalty to the Democrat’s and their hierarchy. The workers wanted to go on strike. They could’ve avoided this defeat, and at the same time punished Walker by shutting the state down and sabotaging his term. This would’ve sent a message to other governors not to try anything, or risk a massive radicalization of the working class.

    Instead, they trusted the democrats, who have already sold their base out on almost everything else, and they got this demoralizing defeat.

    There is no way to spin this. This is the worst of all worlds outcome.

  55. 55
    Waynski says:

    @Caz: You’ll work harder with a gun in your back for a bowl of rice a day. Good luck you simpleton.

  56. 56
    Spectre says:

    @jonst:

    Sending out a lame tweet. Of course, the pro-democrat (not pro-worker) propaganda organ at MSNBC, had Lawrence O’Donnell start off with a sneer, and tell us confidently that: “The real winner here is Obama”

    Jesus christ.

  57. 57
    amk says:

    @Spectre: I don’t see how shutting down the state mechanism during a time of economic mess is a winner for unions.

  58. 58
    Maude says:

    OT It’s D-Day and in 1944, it was a horrible day. The end result doesn’t make it any less terrible.

  59. 59
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    They renominated the same guy who lost to Walker before? If so big mistake, all that says is “sore loser” to the public.

  60. 60
    lol says:

    @Spectre:

    Thanks to a loophole in Wisconsin fundraising laws for recalls, Walker was able to accept an unlimited amount of money from any donor while Barrett was limited to $10,000 a head. That makes a big difference.

  61. 61
    rikyrah says:

    if true that 30% of union households voted for Walker…

    you can’t help people if they don’t want to help themselves.

    tired of these muthafuckas that vote against their own best interests and think folks should coddle them.

  62. 62
    I_am_a_lead_pencil says:

    “All public sector workers “contribute” to their retirement, because pensions are deferred compensation – money workers earned through work.”

    Any private sector employee (or employer) 401k contribution is likewise compensation which is “deferred” into a 401k plan for withdrawal at retirement. Many private sector employers also make a matching contribution with a cap. Sometimes private sector employees and employers will change their contribution to reflect their present economic realities. This should be no less true of a public sector employee.

  63. 63
    Chris says:

    @rikyrah:

    This. Sorry if that sounds petty, but I’m fucking exhausted with the American public at the moment.

  64. 64
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @I_am_a_lead_pencil: I’m not sure it isn’t. I’m a public employee, and my buy-in has been increased three times in 22 years. In addition, my early-retirement penalty has been tripled, and my minimum age for retirement has been raised.

    None of those were negotiated — they were done by the legislature.

    ETA: I forgot the time the fund itself was raided to balance the state budget….

  65. 65
    Spectre says:

    @amk:

    For an election? Perhaps not. But as we’ve just witnessed, the democrats were never going to make a serious bid at winning this state, and the workers walked into an effort in which they got mugged by mountains of capital.

    What it does do however is set a clear line in the sand. The rich are terrified of strikes, and the cost to workers would be forced onto the 1% as well. That would’ve demonstrated that Walker style politics is a bad investment, and that there would be a tit for tat.

    That’s how the best worker victories are won, not from trusting in this batch of sellout democrats.

    Direct action: Getting things done since forever.

  66. 66
    Spectre says:

    @lol:

    Why would the personal limit matter? They could’ve simply given the money to PACs.

  67. 67
    Dave says:

    Americans, idiots that they are, simply cannot understand the notion of wealth and capital as oppressor. “Unions are getting a better deal,” fuck you.

  68. 68
    Ash Can says:

    @rikyrah:

    you can’t help people if they don’t want to help themselves.

    This. It’s bad enough when voters want to punish their neighbors for having more than they do — and I’m not talking about simply wanting a reasonable, progressive income tax structure. When we have people essentially voting against unions because “if my employer doesn’t give me health insurance, raises, and X number of vacation days a year, nobody’s should,” it’s bad enough. But when, on top of it, you have people voting to essentially cut their own household’s income and benefits simply because they don’t like gays or they believe the lies in the political ads or they think it won’t happen to them, there’s not a whole hell of a lot that can be done.

  69. 69
    I_am_a_lead_pencil says:

    Dave said: “Americans, idiots that they are, simply cannot understand the notion of wealth and capital as oppressor.”

    My late uncle used to say that oppression is a misnomer if the oppressor isn’t wielding a gun.

  70. 70
    Sullivan Hyde says:

    I’m kinda both with Spectre abd Lawrence O’Donnell on this one.

    On the one hand, this is good news for Obama (electorate getting gun-shy about kicking out incumbents).

    On the other hand, it shows clear limitations of working within the system. We need to be working both sides of the fence.

  71. 71
    Dave says:

    @I_am_a_lead_pencil: Your uncle was mistaken.

  72. 72
    OzoneR says:

    In hindsight, picking a recall election to settle an issue where there isn’t an overwhelming majority opinion wasn’t a smart tactic.

    Well gee when I said that a year ago, everyone thought I was a coward.

  73. 73
    I_am_a_lead_pencil says:

    @Dave: A WW2 vet…I suppose he’d seen oppression.

  74. 74
    catclub says:

    @Quincy: “Does he just continue as governor through the trial until convicted?”

    Sounds like a great prospect for democrats, if he does.

  75. 75
    PWL says:

    Disagree. If you keep retreating from every battle, you’ll never win the war. That’s where Dems fall down. They either don’t want to fight the battle at all because “it’s too dangerous” (which is what I think this piece is really saying about the recall effort), or they wanna give up altogether after losing the battle.

    Thing is, Walker and the Repubs might think twice about their evil little shenanigans, after the fight they’ve been through. I think Repubs are like bullies: if you fight back, even if you don’t win, it cools their ardor a bit. It’s when you give up an inch without a fight that the Repubs think they can take a mile.

    This is one thing the Repubs have going for them: even if they lose a battle, they don’t give up. They keep coming back again and again, until they finally get what they want. Persistence does pay–even in spite of lack of intelligence. Something Dems could learn from Repubs…

  76. 76
    ChrisNYC says:

    This hindsight “we never should have….” stuff is a problem. Happens every time. There seems to be some underlying assumption that winning is the default position. It’s not. Plus people can’t call for Dems to fight if they can’t stand losing. To reference another bit from the Wire, as Cedric’s wife says, “You cannot lose if you do not play.” But you also can’t win.

    Another thing that losing gets you is experience and data. Invaluable.

  77. 77
    OzoneR says:

    @PWL:

    If you keep retreating from every battle, you’ll never win the war.

    If you fight unnecessary ones, you don’t win the war either.

  78. 78
    Paula says:

    So … whatever. If people, given time to reverse the mistake, decide to vote against their interests a second time, I really couldn’t give a fuck, esp. if it ain’t necessarily a reflection of how they’re going to vote nationally.

  79. 79
    dr. bloor says:

    @OzoneR:

    I still don’t understand why this wasn’t a smart tactic. Anytime you can keep the heat on the opposition and make them dump 30-40 million on something they already own, that’s a good thing.

    And there is no downside, because nothing that might happen next wouldn’t have happened without the special election. Walker has never presumed to need a “mandate” to do anything the Koch Brothers tell him to do.

  80. 80
    OzoneR says:

    @dr. bloor:

    And there is no downside, because nothing that might happen next wouldn’t have happened without the special election.

    Well we wouldn’t have gotten our asses handed to us and give us a reason to be downtrodden five months before a Presidential election

  81. 81
    dr. bloor says:

    @OzoneR: Downtrodden? You’re downtrodden by this? As all the kids say, SRSLY?

    Suck it up, piker. This is politics, and we’re playing the long game here. Karl Rove didn’t just shit the conservative revolution out of his ass one morning, it was a three-decade process.

    ETA: Not to mention, the exit polls made it abundantly clear that November has nothing to do with this. Obama cleaned Rmoney’s clock even as Walker held onto his seat. We can only hope the Republicans are dumb enough to pour money into a non-battleground state this fall.

  82. 82
    tam1MI says:

    [quote]At the end of the day, it’s not entirely surprising. The New Democrats aren’t exactly opposed to union busting. Just look at Obama’s disastrous education policy.[/quote]

    I think that’s a good point. Every time I heard the name “Tom Barrett” in any mainstream news report, the story invariably included the phrase “took on the unions”. If you’re going to muddy your message like that why should anybody vote for you?

  83. 83
    jefft452 says:

    @Caz: “The real politicians who should be recalled are the dems who fled the state rather than show up for work and vote on legislation like they are paid to do.”

    you tried that, could only get enough signatures for 3
    and all of them won thier recalls easily

  84. 84
    brantl says:

    @Caz:

    And you wonder why people don’t trust democrats these days. And I’m not saying the republicans are any better, but you certainly can’t say Walker is any worse than the dems, that’s for sure!

    Apparently, you haven’t paid any attention to what Walker has done, and he’s had the legislature in his pocket, and has the worst jobs record in the nation. Dumbass.

Comments are closed.