2012 Tuesday: Wisconsin recall won’t tell us too much about November

All eyes will be on Wisconsin tonight as the results of that state’s gubernatorial recall election are tabulated. Every major poll since March has Gov. Scott Walker in front, most of them by more than the poll’s margin of error. Among recent polls, he leads by an average of 6.7 percentage points. There has been a last-minute infusion of money by Walker’s labor-union opponents, which may help with get-out-the-vote efforts. That may narrow the final margin and help to dampen the prospects for labor-union reforms in other states, and that just might be their only goal. In any case, it would be very surprising at this point if he were not able to hang on and finish his first term as governor.

Should Walker win, the commentary will immediately turn to the potential impact on Mitt Romney’s chances of pulling off a Badger State upset against President Obama come November. I’ve alluded before to the prospect of a Walker springboard for Romney in Wisconsin. But as we’ve approached election day, I’ve begun to rethink that.

At the risk of being a spoil-sport, I don’t think tonight’s results will have that much of a bearing on the presidential election.

First, and most obviously, Romney and Obama are not Walker and Tom Barrett, the governor’s Democratic opponent in today’s recall. They are different men waging different campaigns on different key issues. Public-sector unions and their collective bargaining rights, or lack thereof, are unlikely to play any more heavily in this presidential election than in previous ones. As in past elections, the largest role for unions will be spending time and money trying to elect the Democrat. Tonight’s recall election is unlikely to change that.

Wisconsin is regarded by some analysts as a toss-up state. But if Romney is to win it, he will have to do so on his own strength or on Obama’s own weakness. If Obama loses states like Wisconsin and Iowa and Ohio, it will have much more to do with the economy and his failure to live up to his own hype than to this recall effort.

What’s more, Republicans have historically had a very tough time in Wisconsin. In the last 10 presidential elections, the GOP candidate has won Wisconsin only along the way to overwhelming landslides in 1972 (Nixon 520 electoral votes, McGovern 17), 1980 (Reagan 489, Carter 49), and 1984 (Reagan 525, Mondale 13). Democrats have won the state in the last six presidential elections by an average of 49.2 percent to 43.7 percent.

Yes, the Wisconsin GOP had a tremendous year in 2010, including Walker’s gubernatorial win and Ron Johnson’s 52-47 defeat of longtime U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold. That year’s results are the main reason the state is included in some lists of swing states. But several states have a history of being Jekyll in presidential elections and Hyde in state contests:  See Georgia, for the most part, from 1972 to 2002, and West Virginia today, among others. Even a solid — i.e., 5- to 7-point — win for Walker today is unlikely to mark him as the kind of transcendent politician who can change that record. And, again, he’s not on the ballot in November.

There may be some momentum/enthusiasm to be gained tonight, but even that strikes me as fleeting. It’s unlikely to spread beyond Wisconsin with any significance — or permanence; remember, the election is still five months away. And it’s unlikely to make a difference for Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes, for the reasons already explained. The vast amounts of pro-Walker money raised from outside the state, and the comparatively little anti-Walker money, tells us something about enthusiasm nationally. But I’m not sure it tells us much more than we could already have supposed. It’s the latest data point among many.

Finally, even a surprisingly large win by Walker won’t make me buy the whispers that he’s a dark-horse option to be Romney’s running mate.

So, today’s recall election may tell us more about the future of public-sector labor unions than it does about this November’s election. (In fact, moderate Democrat and blogger Mickey Kaus suggests tonight’s result could actually be more important than the result of the Obama-Romney contest.)

Then again, if Walker were to shock us and win by 10-12 points tonight, we may have to revisit this entire topic tomorrow.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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78 comments Add your comment

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 5th, 2012
10:59 am

First of all, no matter how big Walker might win, he won’t be on Romney’s short-list of VEEPs.

Next, I agree with you, Kyle, on Romney’s prospects of taking Wisconsin in November, however, if it appears to be close as the summer progresses into fall, it will probably force Obama to spend cash he might not have in a state he shouldn’t have to. That will leave other swing states vulnerable to Romney.

I’m going with a 3-point win for Walker tonight and narrowly avoiding a recount effort.

Emmentaler Limburger

June 5th, 2012
11:14 am

HAHAHA – you people are hilarious. When you thought it was in the bag due to all the union activism and misappropriated union dues brought to bear on this issue in Wisconsin, it was going to be a referendum against conservative policy. Now that you’re not so sure, it is going to be meaningless.

I sincerely hope the MSM is the next bastion of socialism to fall…

Jon Poklop

June 5th, 2012
11:16 am

Even if Walker wins today, I doubt he’ll finish his term. Once he is indicted he will probably resign. The world should be paying much more attention to the LT Governor recall as the winner will probably be Governor by the end of summer.

Progressive Humanist

June 5th, 2012
11:17 am

Actually, the “[t]he vast amounts of pro-Walker money raised from outside the state, and the comparatively little anti-Walker money, tells us” nothing about enthusiasm nationally. All it tells us is that very wealthy individuals like the Kochs, Adelson, etc. are able to donate a great deal more money than middle class Americans can collectively. It’s a sad day for the nation when the bucks (and needs) of the few outweigh the bucks (and needs) of the many. We’re coming to a time when a handful of very wealthy individuals can buy elections, and once they’ve done that, they own the votes of those who they’ve bought seats for. It is bad for the country.

td

June 5th, 2012
11:18 am

Kyle,

One point that you did not talk about that could effect the November election, enthusiasm. Since it appears that November will be about enthusiasm and turn out how much would a Walker win depress the democrats from coming out in November? From watching MSNBC yesterday and this morning they all talked about a 100% ground game to get out the vote “biggest effort ever”, if this does not pay off now then how motivated will those volunteers be in November to work as hard?

Dusty

June 5th, 2012
11:20 am

As much as we are interested in the Walker outcome tonight, I doubt that it is of any interest to many Americans. Why? Because many Americans are too busy working, trying to make enough $$$ to cover the bills, and not really listening to the nitty gritty of the political world.

Oh they know where they stand on Obama and Romney on general principles, but until some earth moving news comes on either, they will go along with their own perceptions. They are too busy to do otherwise. After a hard day’s work, who cares for a political debate when you see who has talent? More relaxing to a tired mind and body.!

I think Kyle has seen the big picture quite clearly.

Skip

June 5th, 2012
11:23 am

Romney and enthusiasm, right.

Skip

June 5th, 2012
11:26 am

Dusty, if there really was any debate people would be interested.. What we have is one paid hack talking over another.

Rafe Hollister- trying to save the Choom Gang

June 5th, 2012
11:26 am

Kyle, disagree, people like a winner and Romney is closing the gap. Any victory tonight will bring a burst of enthusiasm for Romney. On InTrade, Oblamer is sinking like a rock. A victory for the Dems tonight would serve to break Oblamer’s fall.

Dany Heatley

June 5th, 2012
11:27 am

Wisconsin is the most liberal State in the nation not named “California,” “Massachusetts” or “Oregon.”

1961_Xer

June 5th, 2012
11:28 am

When you thought it was in the bag due to all the union activism and misappropriated union dues brought to bear on this issue in Wisconsin, it was going to be a referendum against conservative policy.

It was, and then things happened along the way:
1) the initial revolt mellowed. the world didn’t end
2) the Wisconsin economy had a bit of time to digest the new rules. Some saw their budgets improve. Deficits turned to surpluses.

Given time for the positive effects of Walker’s changes to take place, the anti-walker backlash has been significantly tamed. Notice how Obama has not endorsed the Dem candidate? Notice how there is less MSM coverage of this election than there was of the massive protests last year? Notice how there are nearly 50,000 less dues-paying union members in Wisc now than this time last year (now that dues are not automatically deducted from paychecks)?

This will be a blow to whomever loses. If Walker loses, this will be all over the front page of every liberal MSM news tomorrow touting a huge Democrat/Union victory. If Walker wins, this will be a small article on the bottom of the page… if it even makes the front page.

Rafe Hollister- trying to save the Choom Gang

June 5th, 2012
11:30 am

Momentum is a big thing in any contest of will. The Dems have shown that as Oblamer loses popularity and momentum, they flee to save their own political skin. If they lose tonight, you will see more Dems distance themselves from their leaderless candidate.

Dany Heatley

June 5th, 2012
11:32 am

If Moochelle 0bama lived in Wisconsin, I would refuse to buy any cheese made from her.

Grasshopper

June 5th, 2012
11:35 am

Enter your comments here

Grasshopper

June 5th, 2012
11:36 am

“This will be a blow to whomever loses. If Walker loses, this will be all over the front page of every liberal MSM news tomorrow touting a huge Democrat/Union victory. If Walker wins, this will be a small article on the bottom of the page… if it even makes the front page.”

1961_Xer has the winning quote today.

Gary

June 5th, 2012
11:40 am

If you really beleive that this will have no effect in November you are gravely mistaken. It about the direction this country is now headed. The 20210 election proved that.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 5th, 2012
11:47 am

This is the money quote from Kyle:

“First, and most obviously, Romney and Obama are not Walker and Tom Barrett,”

Apples and oranges, everybody. Walker is running on a record that is showing great promise, while Romney’s is still in some doubt. Obama has a personality that will generate excitement, and neither Barrett nor Romney can light up a room.

md

June 5th, 2012
11:49 am

I agree with Gary……this is about taking baby steps away from the entitlement mindset toward individual choice. WI has tried the collective for many years and it saddled them with public unions demanding what many of the taxpayers no longer had themselves…..pensions and cheaper healthcare. Once the ordinary folks realized they were being played by their own neighbors, the lights went on……………

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 5th, 2012
11:52 am

Either way the indictment is coming and will show Republicans really don’t care too much about ethics in who they vote for. As long as “my guy” wins!

jake

June 5th, 2012
11:52 am

I live in Wisconsin. I voted this morning. Kyle’s got it wrong. Here’s why. For decades, the right has gone to the polls, resigned that the left will win. Left wins, we go back and plod along for 4 years until the next election. Now the right has won, but the left won’t accept it in the good grace that has been extended to them in the past. All the caterwauling from the left has really p#ssed us off, and this will carry through to November.

Road Scholar

June 5th, 2012
11:56 am

As for whether a loss /win will fire up the Dems/Repubs, I believe the “loser” would be more fired up and more determined. The “We shall overcome” mantra will be used by either side if they lose. Both candidates have part of the people who follow their party that are not enamored by the candidate of their party. The question is how to motivate the “naysayers”.

The issue to be undertaken is how do we get rid of PACS, esp after we see how the rich or more endowed PAC ruin the information exchange of the candidates. As with the internet, the information highway is full of “potholes”which consist of rumor, innuendo, and lies. Especially since as explained above many of the public are consumed by their personal problems and do not have the time to sift through the weeds to get the truth. So much of today’s info is fluff or part of the strategy to throw —– and see what sticks.

Jefferson

June 5th, 2012
11:59 am

If I grew up in Wisconsin and that is where I always lived and it was all I knew, I would still move. Why a working man would vote GOP with the way they act these days is crazy.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

June 5th, 2012
12:05 pm

Working men who love their country more than their government will always vote GOP.

Sil

June 5th, 2012
12:07 pm

So when you thought Walker would lose it was a referendum on the Republican agenda. Now you’re not certain that Walker will lose so you hedge your bets and come out with this BS that it won’t matter in November? Are you really that disingenuous and naive? Why not talk about Walker’s results so far? As an outsider he seems to be doing a great job. Plus the Unions are robbing the State tax payers when public jobs make nearly 30% more than private jobs in the State. How is that fair and why was it wrong of Walker to try and bring some parity?

Road Scholar

June 5th, 2012
12:12 pm

LBB: Working men who are selfish will always vote GOP.

md

June 5th, 2012
12:15 pm

“Working men who are selfish will always vote GOP.”

So I’m guessing non-working men that choose to drop out of school are not selfish??

kelly

June 5th, 2012
12:17 pm

There is still the small matter of Walker’s prior job and the corruption investigation that has already snared some of his former aides. Why would Walker have a legal defense fund if he didn’t believe he might need it? He won’t answer questions about it. If he wins, look for him to get his DOJ to get the investigation quashed.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

June 5th, 2012
12:22 pm

Anybody who cheers for the Packers is silly and can’t be taken seriously.

But anyway, the worm is turning on the dummycrats and this is just another fine example of it.

Make your own money, parasites.

Rafe Hollister- trying to save the Choom Gang

June 5th, 2012
12:23 pm

Finn

I am not familiar with the ethics charges against Walker, but that is a common liberal attack strategy. The 38 or so filed against Palin in Alaska, caused her to just give up the office. None of the charges were ever proven, as she maintained all along.

So, if it is our alleged crook against your alleged crook, I’ll take ours, thank you.

td

June 5th, 2012
12:32 pm

Road Scholar

June 5th, 2012
11:56 am

“As for whether a loss /win will fire up the Dems/Repubs, I believe the “loser” would be more fired up and more determined. The “We shall overcome” mantra will be used by either side if they lose”

I disagree. The Dems have come out and said over and over again that they have energized the people to vote and have mobilized an extensive ground game to get the people out to vote. If they lose then there side will be demoralized more then the money side of the republicans and I think will be less likely to work as hard in November. The real question is will it matter if 3 to 5% of the Dems stay at home in November since WIs. has become such a Blue state?

clyde

June 5th, 2012
12:32 pm

I will be watching to see who is successful tonight.There’s a lot riding on the outcome.

td

June 5th, 2012
12:34 pm

Rafe Hollister- trying to save the Choom Gang

June 5th, 2012
12:23 pm

Finn

“I am not familiar with the ethics charges against Walker, but that is a common liberal attack strategy. The 38 or so filed against Palin in Alaska, caused her to just give up the office. None of the charges were ever proven, as she maintained all along.”

Do not forget about the 86 filed against Newt as soon as he took office. Dems are sore losers and will take any action to regain power.

Bob

June 5th, 2012
12:36 pm

So when is a 3 point lead a “mandate” for Walker’s radical policies??? Governor Walker has no mandate because he went to war to destroy the unions instead of fighting just their abuses. The unions conceded and he still pushed for even more! The recall election is his fault and if he wins tonight he will be emboldened to destroy all state public worker unions in Wisconsin next year. Wisconsin, throw this man out and get another GOP governor that wants to reform the unions, not destroy them.

Rafe Hollister- trying to save the Choom Gang

June 5th, 2012
12:49 pm

will be emboldened to destroy all state public worker unions in Wisconsin next year.

Is there something wrong with that? Public workers should not be unionized anyway. Striking against themselves (taxpayers hopefully) is on its face, stupid.

jake

June 5th, 2012
12:50 pm

Road Scholar, you’re not to be taken seriously. Bob, remember that for decades, the left only had a single-digit “mandate” and they ran rampant with it. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and you cry foul? Sorry, there’s no more mercy up here in the northland. The recall election is about unions maintaining the status quo regardless of how it busts the budget. Walker is admired up here because he has the gonads to stand up to them. The unions are loathed because instead of behaving like adults and waiting until the next election to weigh in again, they acted like spoiled children shrieking for their lollypop that suddenly got taken away.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 5th, 2012
12:52 pm

You mean to say:
“I’m take my crook with the new legal defense fund against your make believe crook any day”

??

Thought so. Why do you think Palin quit in light of the allegations? If she could beat them? That’s not usually how it works..

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 5th, 2012
12:54 pm

td

June 5th, 2012
12:54 pm

Bob

June 5th, 2012
12:36 pm

” Governor Walker has no mandate because he went to war to destroy the unions instead of fighting just their abuses.”

Taking collective barging for wages and benefits away from public sector unions is not abuse.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

June 5th, 2012
12:55 pm

Road Scholar: Working men who are selfish will always vote GOP.
———-

We need to spread the wealth around, eh?

Sorry, Americans won’t go for Marxism. Let’s hope they outnumber Democrats in Wisconsin today and nationwide in November.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 5th, 2012
12:56 pm

if he wins tonight he will be emboldened to destroy all state public worker unions in Wisconsin next year

Not if the Democrats win the Senate back in Wisc. Walker will be Neutered.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 5th, 2012
12:59 pm

I am not familiar with the ethics charges against Walker

And that is a common conservative take on most everything they don’t want to hear. Cover ears and yell “blah, blah, blah, I can’t hear you!”

linkee:
http://www.alternet.org/news/155713/will_scott_walker_get_a_pink_slip,_orange_jumpsuit_or_a_second_chance

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

June 5th, 2012
1:01 pm

Walker’s decision to take on the public sector unions was the REAL “gutsy call”.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

June 5th, 2012
1:02 pm

alternet…now there’s a reliable source.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 5th, 2012
1:09 pm

Walker has hired high-powered criminal defense lawyers and is using a portion of his $30 million raised for the campaign to pay legal bills being run up by his campaign attorneys and his personal criminal defense attorneys, over $320,000 combined so far. The use of a campaign war chest to pay legal fees is only permitted under Wisconsin statutes when a person or their “agent” acting on their behalf are “under investigation for, charged with, or convicted of a criminal violation” under campaign finance and election laws. Walker announced he was starting a criminal defense fund in March 2012.

Ayn Rant

June 5th, 2012
1:09 pm

Actually, the outcome in Wisconsin will confirm what we already know: the voters are about evenly divided between the political parties, and totally distracted from the important issues of our country. The Wisconsin election is about unions vs. oligarchs.

MrLiberty

June 5th, 2012
1:10 pm

Yes, today those who support a smaller government will be able to vote for Mr. Walker. In November, those who support small government will not find anyone to vote for.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

June 5th, 2012
1:13 pm

The Wisconsin election is about unions vs. people who work for a living.
——-

Fixed.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 5th, 2012
1:14 pm

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Conservatives have chosen another solid winner of a human being:

3) Who has been charged and what are the charges so far in the investigation?
So far the investigators have charged six people with 15 felonies; one person, who turned himself in to prosecutors, was convicted on two counts:
* Timothy Russell (former deputy chief of staff to Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker) was charged with two felonies, and one misdemeanor related to embezzlement of donations intended for Wisconsin veterans in a special fund, which was created at Walker’s direction. The money was used by Russell and his partner, Brian Pierick, to take a few vacations.
* Brian Pierick (partner of Timothy Russell): charged with two felonies involving child solicitation. It appears Russell’s phone records led to Pierick and a nasty story about two men soliciting a 17-year old minor for sex.
* Kevin Kavanaugh (appointed by Walker as a county veterans’ official): charged with five felonies related to embezzlement from the veterans fund. Kavanaugh appears to have been raiding the funds separately from Russell.
* Kelly Rindfleisch (former deputy chief of staff to then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker): charged with four felonies relating to campaign fundraising while on the county payroll. Rindfleisch’s worked on a secret wifi system in her office just steps away from Walker’s office. Rindfleisch continued to work for Walker’s campaign until she was charged.
* Darlene Wink (former aide to then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker): pled guilty to two unclassified misdemeanors as part of a deal that she made with the prosecutors relating to working on campaign fundraising while on the county payroll. Winks office was down a short hallway from Walker’s.
* William Gardner (President and CEO of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad): Gardner pled guilty to felony violations of Wisconsin’s election campaign laws in April of 2011. Gardner tried to convince prosecutors that his $50,000 in illegal contributions to Walker, which he funneled through his employees and a girlfriend, was an innocent mistake, except he had done the same thing the previous year.

mwuahahahahahahahahaha

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 5th, 2012
1:17 pm

The Wisconsin election is about unions vs. politicians bought by big business to break up any and all unions in the state, not just the state employees.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fixed your typo

md

June 5th, 2012
1:21 pm

“The Wisconsin election is about unions vs. oligarchs.”

The WI election is about unions against their own neighbors…..the ones paying the bills.