The many lessons from Wisconsin

I stand by my comments yesterday that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in his recall election does not necessarily translate to Mitt Romney’s campaign in the state against President Obama. That said, there are some lessons to take away from last night’s results:

1.The political momentum is firmly against public-sector unions. That is the biggest takeaway message from the 18-month saga in Wisconsin. The public is tired of paying for this arrangement of better pay and benefits for people who are supposed to work for the public, but who are ready to hold the public hostage though strikes and collective bargaining. Once upon a time, those on the left understood the distinction between organizing private labor and organizing public labor, and why the latter goes against the public’s interest. Slowly, the public is re-teaching them.

2. Money still matters in politics, but it reflects popular sentiment rather than driving it. Yes, Walker outspent Barrett by tens of millions of dollars. Why? Because there is more money to be raised for curbing public-sector unions’ largesse than for defending it. Large numbers of people felt that well before Walker came onto the scene, and their numbers have only grown as they’ve watched events in Madison unfold over the past 18 months; the fund-raising totals merely reflect that reality.

Liberals are trying to cast this as the consequence of the Citizens United decision, claiming that Supreme Court ruling opened the floodgates for businesses to “buy” elections. What Citizens United did, in fact, was to level the playing field between businesses and the special-interest groups — specifically, in this case, organized labor — that have been likewise “buying” elections for years. I don’t remember liberals complaining about campaign-finance rules back when Obama ditched public financing during his 2008 campaign and greatly outspent John McCain. Or back when they were crowing that Obama would raise $1 billion for his re-election campaign this year. Now he appears likely to fall short of that absurd target — which, again, is a reflection of public sentiment — and the complaints are cranking back up.

3. Speaking of double-talk, the calls for “new civility” apparently were no different. As if the sincerity of those preaching civility hadn’t already been thoroughly discredited: Note just this one compilation of tweets — be forewarned that the language is far more foul than we allow on ajc.com blogs — calling for someone to kill Walker, or claiming they’ve “already payed for the hit.” (”Payed” — a student of one of Wisconsin’s fine union teachers, perhaps?) And to think, conservatives were accused of far worse merely for using cliche words and symbols for targeting certain incumbents and elections. In the end, each side should spend more time policing its own than grasping for ways to be offended.

4. The Wisconsin GOP’s ground game is impressive. Ground game, get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts — call it what you like. Walker won last night by a larger margin than in 2010, despite the labor-union/liberal anger against him, in part because he outperformed in the same precincts he won two years ago while his opponent ran pretty much even (Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was Walker’s Democratic opponent both times). This graph from the Huffington Post tells the story much more quickly and clearly than the proverbial thousand words could (click “Compare to 2010″ if it doesn’t load initially). That’s how you increase your margin even as voter turnout increases.

5. Exit polls are about as useful for predicting the day’s outcome(s) as drawing numbers out of a hat. The initial predictions based on the exit polls were for a dead heat. Then, they were adjusted to predict a 52-48 outcome for Walker. In the end, he won by 6.9 percentage points. The final Real Clear Politics average of polls in the race showed Walker with a 6.7-point lead, almost dead-on. So, why are the exit polls so far off?

The simplest answer is that they’re not really designed to predict the outcome, but rather to tell us about the electorate who decided the outcome and to be used as a tool for calling an election once there are sufficient voting data to confirm the trends found in the exit polls. Yet, the same news organizations that commission the exit polls knowing this is what they’re useful for turn around on election night and use them to predict outcomes. You’d think my colleagues would have learned their lesson by now: As Nate Silver of the New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog noted on Twitter last night, “Exit polls have been highly accurate in every recent election except 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.”

6. Wisconsin is in play in November. While I won’t promote Romney’s chances in Wisconsin based on the recall election’s results, the problems with the exit polls mean I sure as heck would not be smug about Obama’s showing, either. Yes, the exit polls showed him with a 7-point lead over Romney as voters’ preferred candidate. But keep in mind that 4- to 7-point discrepancy between what the exit polls showed for Walker and what he wound up with. Keep in mind, too, that Obama won the state by 14 points in 2008. As far as November goes, the exit polls only confirm the suspicion that Wisconsin will be competitive.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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253 comments Add your comment

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

June 6th, 2012
11:36 am

The big thing here is that dummycrats get a large portion of their campaign contributions directly from public unions. It’s the world’s largest and most corrupt government kick back scheme.

And the good, decent people of Wisconsin just flamed it.

Buh bye, obozo.

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

June 6th, 2012
11:38 am

If you doubt me, just bear witness to all the blood gushing from the mouths of the most virulent liberals last night and this morning.

Something major must have happened to get them this foamy.

getalife

June 6th, 2012
11:43 am

Money won, congrats.

walker lost the senate and now wants to work together.

Exit polls show our President will win that state again.

Enjoy your money victory cons.

getalife

June 6th, 2012
11:48 am

Keep fighting.

Money is tough to beat after citizen united.

The money playing field will be level in the next one after the gop spent 40 million plus and the dems spent 4 million.

Money won not you cons.

@@

June 6th, 2012
11:48 am

Another thing we’ve learned.

Exclusive Interview: Thug Threatens WI Poll Watcher That He’ll ‘Bang Her Head Against The Floor’

Their “War on Women”.

She, on the other hand, acted appropriately.

Dusty

June 6th, 2012
11:48 am

Thank you, Kyle.

Did I mention that the Braves won last night 11 to 0? Yes they did. Very good!!!

Dusty

June 6th, 2012
11:54 am

getalife,

You’ve got to learn to be a better loser.

The majority won yesterday in Wisconsin. Get over it!

getalife

June 6th, 2012
11:57 am

“Cost overruns of almost $1 billion — so far — at Ga. nuke reactors” Jay

Your solyndra .

Enjoy.

I am over it dusty.

Our President has a seven point lead there.

That is great news.

Rafe Hollister- trying to save the Choom Gang

June 6th, 2012
11:58 am

getalife

Keep on dreaming! 88% said they made up their minds long before any money by either side was spent. Issues do matter and are the biggest deciders of elections. The passion I saw last night on both sides can not be bought with a few television ads. I do not care how many ads you watch if you are a union backer, you are not suddenly going to flip to the other side. There were undecideds that the ads could reach.

Oblama is probably going down big time, but it is way to early to predict anything. I saw that in Jun 92, Ross Perot had a big lead on GHW Bush and Bill Clinton was in third place. Carter was up by 7 on Reagan in Jun 80. We know how those races came out. Reagan won by a landslide, so he picked up those 7 plus 7-10 more percent.

I hope that some of these Blue states will now enact right to work laws. We have seen in WI that when people are not required to join a union membership declines greatly. In WI from about 9,000 to less than 3,000 after Walker’s reforms.

saywhat?

June 6th, 2012
11:58 am

kyle-”Money still matters in politics, but it reflects popular sentiment rather than driving it. Yes, Walker outspent Barrett by tens of millions of dollars. Why? Because there is more money to be raised for curbing public-sector unions’ largesse than for defending it.”
__________________________________________________________________________
Kyle, are you aware that more money was given to the the Walker campaign by 3 wealthy donors than all the money combined to the Barret campaign? 3 rich people = “popular sentiment”?

Don't Tread

June 6th, 2012
11:59 am

“the complaints are cranking back up”

Typical leftist hypocrisy…when they raise more money and win, it’s ok, but when the other side raises more money and wins, the election “was bought”. Same with Occupy Something (”the 99%”) when compared with the Tea Party (”extremists”, “bigots”, “Nazis”, etc.), and corporate donations to campaigns (”the election was bought”, “corporations are now people”) vs. union donations to campaigns (”the people are exercising their 1st Amendment rights”).

They really hate it when people who don’t agree with them have the same rights they do. It’s evil, I tell ya!

Rafe Hollister- trying to save the Choom Gang

June 6th, 2012
11:59 am

Should read, there were few undecideds the ads could reach.

Conservative Gwinnettian

June 6th, 2012
11:59 am

The senate victory could not be more meaningless. The “new “senator will never serve in the wisconsin state house, as they do not report to the statehosue until Jan 2013, after the Nov 2012 elections. the Nov 2012 elections will be held under different house and senate districts (drawn up by wisconsin republicans, yea) and thus this ALL changes before wisconsin state house and sentate meets again in 2013. An the changes come Nov 2012 will not favor the Democrats. A very hollow and worthless victory. Probably haven’t heard this anywhere else, but it is the truth.

Soothsayer

June 6th, 2012
11:59 am

Many look on Gov. Walker’s victory last night as some sort of mandate on his governorship. That is completely wrong.

Last night’s victory simply indicates that there are more voters in Wisconsin who are not affiliated with or sympathetic of unions.

The fact that it was a close as it was speaks volumes about Walker’s governorship.

I believe that most people (those not affiliated with a union in some way) view people who belong to unions as being overpaid. Whether or not that is true will be revealed in the coming years.

Will Wisconsin be able to find workers for jobs that were once union? What will they have to pay those people.

Unfortunately, because of the scarcity of jobs, people will take any job at any pay.

This has been a sad 30+ years in America. Our long-running experiment with neo-liberal economics has now reached bottom and is merrily bouncing along.

getalife

June 6th, 2012
12:00 pm

Whoa, Our President opens up a double digit lead in Pa.

This one is over.

DebbieDoRight - A Do Right Woman

June 6th, 2012
12:02 pm

We’ve learned that there is a percentage of people in Wisconsin who yearn to go back to the golden age of serfdom and fealty to their “betters”.

We’ve also learned that in 5 years, Wisconsin will be begging for teachers. Talked to a good friend who lives in LaSalle — lots of teachers are packing up and leaving. They feel their skills can be better used elsewhere. I guess this “era” can be called The Great Teacher Escape Of 2012. Homeschools should prosper though.

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

June 6th, 2012
12:03 pm

off topic from Alter.net:

Transglutaminase is an enzyme made by the fermentation of bacteria and added to meat pieces to make them stick together. Yes, “meat glue” — it’s what’s for dinner! This is yet another dandy product from industrialized food purveyors that keep inventing new ways to mess with our dinner for their own fun and profit. Right about now, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why do they need to glue meat together?” Glad you asked. It’s so the industry can take cheap chunks of beef and form them into what appears to be a pricey steak.

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

June 6th, 2012
12:05 pm

And the good, decent people of Wisconsin just flamed it.

Wisconsin has spoken, the November election is decided?

LOL. dream on

Overtaxed Consumer

June 6th, 2012
12:09 pm

If Moochelle 0bama lived in the State of Wisconsin, I would refuse to buy and cheese or bratwurst made from her.

@@

June 6th, 2012
12:09 pm

Debbie:

If those teachers were smart, they’d open up a private school.

Rafe Hollister- trying to save the Choom Gang

June 6th, 2012
12:12 pm

Something we have known all along, that was demonstrated last night again, is that a large percentage of union members and their overlord leaders are more often than not on opposite sides of the issue. The union membership needs to do a better job of selecting their leaders. 33% of people with family members, who were union, voted for Walker.

I do not think many union members are wed to the Democrat party, just their overlords. For their survival, they need to look to support leaders more moderate in their political stands. The members should demand more say in how their dues are spent.

Keeping It REAL Real

June 6th, 2012
12:15 pm

You people on here who oppose the President & his social agenda are all hypocrites.

If, as a man, you had to climb into the same marital bed every night with Me-Chelle 0bama, gay marriage would eventually start to seem like a not-so-bad idea to you, too.

Rafe Hollister- trying to save the Choom Gang

June 6th, 2012
12:20 pm

Debby do right

We have heard that song and dance before. Those teachers will get over their hissy fit and be right back there in Sep. They will decide over the summer that a real job is hard to get, requires you to work 12 months, probably has worse insurance plans, and is less rewarding that teaching. What state is hiring teachers anyway. How are they going to sell their houses and move? Oblama economy kinda takes away their choices, I’d say.

DebbieDoRight - A Do Right Woman

June 6th, 2012
12:24 pm

@@ – probably. But as you know just by the events that are happening here in Georgia; teacher pay is declining while everything else is going up. They (the teachers) probably couldn’t even afford the interst on a loan in order to start up their own school.

School is over budget? Cut teacher pay. Increase class size.

No one can come up with a different way to handle things. It’s a shame, but it’s true. The teacher, the student, and our society suffers.

Now what would I do? I have no idea! But when things like billion dollar stadiums take precedence over educating our kids then it’s understandable why companies are looking to overseas markets to hire quality workers.

Kyle Wingfield

June 6th, 2012
12:26 pm

getalife: Aside from the obvious differences between subsidizing nuclear power, which is a proven technology and is expensive in large part because of government regulations, and what Solyndra was doing, which was an unproven technology and is expensive in large part because it doesn’t work, there’s the fact that the federal loans to Georgia Power for the new reactor were approved by the Obama administration, in Feb. 2010.

As usual, you’re clueless.

claytondawg

June 6th, 2012
12:28 pm

Unions want a controlling portion of any political party. It just happens to be the Democrats at this time with their mindless ideals.

Kyle Wingfield

June 6th, 2012
12:28 pm

Soothsayer: How do you spin the fact that he won more votes — both in absolute numbers, and as a share of the total vote — than he did in 2010? How in the world does that speak negative volumes about his governorship?

DawgDad

June 6th, 2012
12:29 pm

“Money won, congrats”

Money DOES NOT vote.

DebbieDoRight - A Do Right Woman

June 6th, 2012
12:30 pm

I would refuse to buy and cheese or bratwurst made from her.

Maybe you can buy a vowel or a few adverb or something. That may help. :roll:

Rafe: Those teachers will get over their hissy fit and be right back there in Sep. They will decide over the summer that a real job is hard to get, requires you to work 12 months, probably has worse insurance plans, and is less rewarding that teaching. What state is hiring teachers anyway. How are they going to sell their houses and move?

You kidding right? Ever heard of “Teach America”? We NEED Teachers!! No one wants to take the job!! Besides, this is a “global economy” — teaching, like any other career, can be mobile; this isn’t the 18th century, (i know you hate to hear that), and teachers can get a job with the D.O.D. (I’m a D.O.D. student); or go to another country to teach.

My friend Mei Ing is teaching English in Hong Kong — for a whole lot more money than she ever made in Georgia.

Aquagirl

June 6th, 2012
12:31 pm

Did I mention that the Braves won last night 11 to 0?

Oh, the Atlanta autonomous unionized collective won? Was it in our taxpayer-funded stadium or someone else’s subsidized facility? :)

Chef Boy-ar-dee

June 6th, 2012
12:34 pm

If First “Lady” Me-Chelle 0bama lived here in Georgia, I would refuse to buy any “garden fertilizer” produced by her.

LoganvilleGuy

June 6th, 2012
12:34 pm

Here is the mistake that BOTH parties make:

They assume that an election victory means that voters endorse a particular policy or belief. However, I can assue you that is not the case.

Every election that I’ve voted in, I’ve voted almost exclusively Republican. However, that doesn’t mean that I endorse every policy or position they put forth. As a matter of fact, I find many of their stances offensive and insulting. However, I find more of the policies and positions of the Democratic party to be even more offensive and insulting.

I am a disgusted voter that votes for the party that offends me the least. They shouldn’t consider that vote a ringing endorsement of their actions. I think you will find that many moderate voters feel the same way.

Tiberius - Banned by Bookman and proud of it!

June 6th, 2012
12:35 pm

One of your best analyses yet, Kyle.

Jefferson

June 6th, 2012
12:38 pm

Anyone who cares about WS is a polical nerd.

Sam

June 6th, 2012
12:39 pm

money doesnt drive popular sentiment? why are they spending all that money then kyle? just to reflect the sentiment of the folks so they dont forget ? pretty naive statement

DawgDad

June 6th, 2012
12:39 pm

“I am a disgusted voter that votes for the party that offends me the least. They shouldn’t consider that vote a ringing endorsement of their actions. I think you will find that many moderate voters feel the same way.”

. . . also Tea Partiers, Conservatives, Libertarians, . . .

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

June 6th, 2012
12:42 pm

sucks to be getalife today

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

June 6th, 2012
12:44 pm

Sam: money doesnt drive popular sentiment?
———-

Does money drive YOUR political sentiment? Or just everyone else’s?

resno2

June 6th, 2012
12:48 pm

getalife – how much did obama spend to win his election? Could it have been the most spent on any election EVER? So are you enjoying your money victory?

TGT

June 6th, 2012
12:54 pm

Amazing that libs want to whine about money in a fight that they initiated. Conservatives were supposed to lay down I suppose. Liberals pitched a hissy fit prior to Walker’s reforms, after they took effect, and all the way up to the recall. The union thugs waved their bully sticks and got smacked down, and now they want to whine about money. Get used to it. You should be already. Since late 2009: GOP wins VA gov., NJ gov., pick up Ted Kennedy’s seat, retakes the House in historic 2010 midterm beat-down (along with sweeping victories in states all over the union). For over two years now the GOP has dominated elections. There is little reason to think that won’t continue.

@@

June 6th, 2012
12:56 pm

Debbie:

I’ll agree with you about the stadiums over education but lack of money isn’t the problem. It’s the money that goes towards funding bureacracy that’s the problem.

Losing the Brains Race
America is spending more money on education while producing worse outcomes.

@@

June 6th, 2012
12:56 pm

getalife

June 6th, 2012
12:57 pm

Yeah kyle.

Another billion wasted in your world is okay.

Anyhoo, the gop wasted another 60 million on a recall election.

The dems spent 4 million so they are the real fiscal cons.

Kyle Wingfield

June 6th, 2012
12:57 pm

Sam: There have been plenty of races won over the years by underfunded candidates. Money only goes so far.

DebbieDoRight - A Do Right Woman

June 6th, 2012
12:58 pm

There is little reason to think that won’t continue.

Thinge change. I had thought, until Clinton took the big Chair, that the U.S. would be destined to always have a republican president until the end of time. Things change.

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

June 6th, 2012
12:58 pm

It’s kinda cute to watch the dummycrats clutch their fake polls and babble off at the mouth with their mindless excuses, plus, it keeps them occupied with other things besides wrecking our great country.

We’re gonna see a lot of red, foamy faces come November.

getalife

June 6th, 2012
12:59 pm

dawgdad,

“Corporations are people my friend” willard robme.

@@

June 6th, 2012
1:00 pm

Citizens United is a result of the MSM’s bias. It’s as simple as that.

Rafe Hollister- trying to save the Choom Gang

June 6th, 2012
1:02 pm

Debbie

I am not worried about their being enough teachers in WI, there are thousands here in GA that would move up there to fill the vacancies. Don’t know what they pay up there, but past history has shown that teachers “up north” make more than those “down south”.

BTW, Walkers says he has reduced class sizes and has not laid off teachers or state workers, while balancing the budget, with no tax increase. This is amazing stuff, when compared to the results of the Oblamer regime.

getalife

June 6th, 2012
1:03 pm

It does not suk lil bar.

I will keep writing the truth.

We will keep fighting.

After our President wins again, I will not rub it in.

I will just breathe a sigh of relief that our country will stay out of the gop ditch for another four years.