I have no idea how the vote in Wisconsin will go today. All polls seem to point to a victory by incumbent governor Scott Walker and my guess is that’s how it will turn out.
But the left, or at leas part of the left in the guise of The New Republic’s Alec MacGillis, is trying to walk back the national significance of a possible Walker victory.
Citing the conventional wisdom that a loss today would bode ill for Obama in Wisconsin and nationally come November, well, he’s not on board with that:
I don’t buy it. And that goes the other way, too — I don’t think Democrats should take away too much optimism for their fall prospects if Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett pulls off an upset win. Part of this has to with all the usual reasons why state contests should not be taken as barometers of national sentiment, as listed in a smart guest post by Will Oremus on David Weigel’s Slate blog: "1) It’s a recall. 2) It’s happening in June. 3) The incumbent is a Republican. 4) Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney is running. 5) A significant number of states (49 by my count) will not be participating. 6) Need I go on?"
Seems to be missing a few numbers, doesn’t it?
7) the left initiated the recall, has poured millions upon millions of dollars into a state which Obama took by 14 points, and is seemingly failing in its attempt to oust a sitting Republican governor.
8)if the left and unions can’t motivate voters in this state, what does that say about their chances nationally?
9)the left elevated this into an election with “national implications”, not the right.
10)the left began the meme that this would foretell the November national election, not the right.
11)Barack Obama is avoiding WI like the plague because he understands the national implications of being associated with a loss there by the left.
MacGillis is pretty sure he can figure out a way that such a loss would actually be good for Obama.
My colleague Noam Scheiber adds an interesting conjecture on the lessons that the parties will take from the Wisconsin results about the allocation of resources this fall, arguing that a Walker win might also help the Democrats in that regard.
Oh, well, then certainly a loss would be much less biting then (really?). The Democrats would learn a valuable lesson about “the allocation of resources this fall”? Yippee.
But how does MacGillis think this is a good thing for Obama? Well, he manages to ignore 7-11(+) above (and pretty much everything else of significance) and reduces his analysis to the absurd:
So beware the pundits who turn Tuesday’s vote into nothing but a grand partisan referendum and fail to take into account a less cable-ready way of assessing a Walker victory: as a statement of grudging pro-incumbent sentiment in a time of cautious optimism about a painfully gradual economic recovery.
Anyone who actually believes it’s a “grudging pro-incumbent sentiment” being expressed in Wisconsin is doing an admirable and obvious job of whistling past the graveyard. They also don’t have any real clue about what’s happening there today.