As it ends up, Wisconsin wasn’t even that close [Update]
In the Wisconsin recall election last night, Gov. Scott Walker and Lt Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch jumped to an early lead and never relinquished it, beating their Democratic rivals by 7 points, 53% to 46% and 6 points respectively. 3 of the 4 Republican state senators held their seats with one headed to recount.
Of course given the spin up to the vote, the left was pretty sure that it was a very close race and that they’d squeak out a win because, well, they were the left, for heaven sake and their cause was true and just … or something.
In the end the results left some pretty bitter lefties as seen here with this drama queen:
Of course instead of what this crybaby says, what happened last night was precisely the opposite of what he contends. Democracy didn’t “die” last night, it actually did what it was supposed to do. The unions and Democrats attempted to redress their grievances against the governor, succeeded in getting a recall election and lost.
That’s exactly how the system is supposed to work. Sorry, no guarantee on the outcome.
It also brought out one of the funniest and perhaps stupidest examples of trying to spin/distraction I’ve seen:
You can’t make this stuff up. And of course, watching Ed Schultz melt down on live TV was the treat of the night.
On a more serious note, Josh Marshall at TPM published his thoughts immediately after the results were certain:
These are bad times for incumbents across the country and, frankly, around the world. A governor convincingly (we still don’t know the exact margin) winning a recall election is a big deal. Victory counts. There’s no getting around that.
That’s exactly the opposite that Alec McGillis was trying to contend yesterday. And, Marshall is correct. It is anti-incumbent fever which has been the feature of the past few elections. So surviving a recall and actually doing better than he did the first time? Significant.
Marshall goes on:
This is also a big loss for public employees unions. There’s no getting around that fact. Just why that happened is another matter. But at the end of the day, victory is all that matters. Walker went big to destroy the public sector unions in his state. And the labor movement went all out to take him down and lost. Wisconsin’s a pretty progressive, fairly blue-ish state. This result in this state has to embolden Republican governors across the country to think you can go for game-changing attacks on key Democratic constituencies like labor and not pay a price at the polls. Public employees unions across the country have feel like they have crosshairs on their backs. And they do.
I don’t think you can spin this any other way.
But, as we see with the lame Axelrod tweet, attempts to do so will be fairly common on the left. Already it is “we were outspent” instead of voters just flat rejected their recall effort. And, no denying it, pubic service unions lost big.
I think Marshall was fairly stunned by the result and in a burst of shocked honesty, laid out the real results. I look for he and many others to be much more guarded and circumspect today. I also expect a lot of whistling past the graveyard from them.
The loss in WI is remarkable for the size of the gap between Walker and Barrett. And as usual the left is shocked at the outcome. Because, one supposes, they actually believed they were close to winning given the polling and coverage:
Walker can’t seem to break his 50 percent ceiling of support among Wisconsin voters. His ballot support has hovered at either 50 percent or 49 percent in 12 of the 14 polls released since early May, and recent polls show the race tightening in the final stretch.
“We’re very much anticipating that there’s a chance that we could be in a recount scenario,” said Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. He said the party will have more than 440 lawyers in the field on Tuesday “doing election protection activities but also tasked with recount preparation, making sure that we know where absentee ballots are at, making sure that we have a strong handle on what’s happening out there.”
But other than the one State Senate race, none of the other races ended up anywhere near recount territory and were instead dramatic and resounding victories for the incumbents.
I bring the polling up for a reason. It is a way the left is going to console themselves and try to convince themselves that the outcome in WI has no national meaning. Marshall goes on in his immediate reaction to provide the example:
For all the ominous things this election said for labor movement and Dems, I don’t buy that this tells us a lot about President Obama’s fate in Wisconsin or across the country. Why? Look no further than the polls. Tonight’s exit polls showed that President Obama would win handily with this electorate. Indeed, all the polls leading up to this vote showed Walker winning by a solid margin and President Obama winning by an even solider margin.
Right – the polling. It was dead on, wasn’t it? And the exit polling in particular was so … accurate.
Last Marshall quote of significance, because I touch on it quite often and it does point to something I feel is of tremendous importance:
Why weren’t the anti-Walker forces able to sustain those numbers? That’s an important question I don’t think we have an answer to. Enthusiasm is critical. But enthusiasm and passion is evanescent if it doesn’t live within robust institutions. Which brings us back to the power (or lack thereof) of the union movement and public impressions of it. Why Walker ceased to be unpopular is the big question here.
Why? Because results matter and what Walker was able to do is show positive results with his agenda. And, more importantly, he accomplished them in enough time for them to be obvious to the voters. Secondly, 60% of the voters apparently felt the recall system was misused in this case, citing “misconduct” as the only reason it should be used. Obviously they didn’t feel this constituted misconduct.
Finally, it appears that while the enthusiasm of a core of union members remained high (like the guy in the video), the movement wasn’t able to sustain that enthusiasm less involved in the recall effort. Whereas the Walker side was able to motivate voters to turn out for him.
That quiet enthusiasm that manifests itself in the voters is what the left doesn’t understand. And apparently it is something the polls don’t catch. Most voters aren’t these simple animals that are susceptible to spin and appeals to class warfare. They’re much more complex than that, able to weigh arguments and make decisions based on what they see and how they see it in terms of results. Walker produced results. The voters, last night, endorsed them.
Democracy didn’t die last night, it got a transfusion and is well on its way to recovery.
Not that the left is at all happy about that.
Update: About that “we were outspent” meme:
Much of the money for the race has come from out of state. About $63 million has been spent on the race so far, including $16 million from conservative groups such as the Republican Governors Association, Americans for Prosperity and the National Rifle Association. The majority of Walker’s donations are from people outside Wisconsin.
Democratic groups – including those funded by unions, the Democratic Governors Association and the Democratic National Committee – have poured in about $14 million, based on a tally from the government watchdog group the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. Barrett’s $4.2 million in donations, meanwhile, were mostly from inside Wisconsin.