Free Markets, Free People


WI recall elections–Republicans retain majority in Senate

4 of 6 Republicans on a recall ballot retained their seats in Wisconsin state recall elections.  That retains the Republican majority by one seat.

By keeping a majority in the Senate, Republicans retained their monopoly on state government because they also hold the Assembly and governor’s office. Tuesday’s elections narrowed their majority – at least for now – from 19-14 to a razor-thin 17-16.

Republicans may be able to gain back some of the losses next week, when two Democrats face recall elections.

Democrats had hoped to block the Republican agenda by taking control of the Senate in the recall elections, but the GOP should be able to continue to advance its agenda.

"I think it’s a huge victory for us," said John Hogan, director of the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate. "Voters gave us a mandate last fall. . . . They backed us up again (Tuesday). Voters told us loud and clear, ‘Stay the course. Things are working.’"

But Democrats claimed victory for the two seats they captured from Republicans.

"We went on their turf and we won on Republican turf," said Mike Tate, chairman of the state Democratic Party. "We will not stop, we will not rest . . . until we recall (Gov.) Scott Walker."

Yeah, not so much, as Nate Silver explains in the NY Times:

All of these seats can be classified as being in swing districts, having voted for Mr. Walker, a Republican, in 2010 but for President Obama in 2008. Most are a couple of points more Republican than Wisconsin as a whole. The closest thing to an exception is the 32nd Senate District in the western corner of the state, served by the Republican incumbent Dan Kapanke. It is more liberal than the others, having given Mr. Walker only a narrow plurality in 2010 and Mr. Obama 61 percent of its vote in 2008.

The two GOP state senators that lost were Kapanke in what Silver describes as a “more liberal” district, and State Senator Randy Hopper.  Bottom line, the Democrat goal of wrestling the Senate away from the GOP and stopping the Governor’s agenda failed.  All the spinning in the world doesn’t change that.  You have to remember too, that the GOP Senators targeted were from what Democrats considered the most vulnerable districts.

And it can be considered even more of a failure because of the amount of outside effort and money spent by Democrats in the failed effort:

So far more than $35 million has been spent on the recall races, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks political money. The spending on the nine races dwarfs the $19.3 million spent in last year’s 115 legislative races, and approaches the $37.4 million spent in the race for governor.

The flow of money came as unions saw the recall elections as the best way to halt Walker’s agenda and to send a message to other states considering changing their collective bargaining laws. Political observers are watching Wisconsin to see what the results say about the mood of the electorate leading up to next year’s elections for president and Congress.

Unions played a huge role for Democrats by spending vast sums of money on advertising, and supplying manpower in all the Senate districts. Conservative groups have parried with their own influx of cash.

So all-in-all, one has to conclude that despite the Democratic cash and message, for the most part, voters rejected it.  

The big question – will the Wisconsin GOP take these results as a validation of their agenda, or will they back off now and try to “compromise”?

Stay tuned.


Twitter: @McQandO