The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Kloppenburg Defeats Truman


Sure, there’s talk of shutdowns and Trump-mania in the final Morning Jolt of the week, but there’s no more surprising story than the sudden revelation that the results in Wisconsin were not what we thought:

Waukesha County: Hey, Never Mind Those Earlier Vote Totals

Okay, deep down, I know that the Supreme Court election in Wisconsin is going to come down to a couple thousand votes “found” in the car trunk of a Milwaukee elections official. We’ve seen this movie before. It never has a happy ending for our side.

But still, it’s pretty wild when you get a sudden and unexpected reversal like this one: “In a political bombshell, the clerk in a Republican stronghold released new vote totals adding a net total of 7,403 new votes in the tight state Supreme Court race to Justice David Prosser, swinging the race significantly in his favor. Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said Thursday that she failed to correctly enter in her computer and then report 14,315 votes in the city of Brookfield, omitting them entirely in an unofficial tally released after Tuesday’s election. The new totals give 10,859 more votes to Prosser and 3,456 more to Kloppenburg, she said. “I’m thankful that this error was caught early in the process. This is not a case of extra ballots being found. This is human error which I apologize for, which is common,” Nickolaus said, her voice wavering as she spoke to reporters. She said she had reviewed numbers from all the other municipalities in the county to ensure that no other similar errors were made. She said she was not aware of any error of this size being made in any past election in her county.”

In the Corner, Daniel Foster says that local Democrats are vouching that this is an honest mistake: “At one point Ramona Kitzinger, a Democratic representative on the canvassing board and vice-chair of county’s Democratic party, stepped up to podium to confirm Nickolaus’s account. “We’re satisfied that it’s correct,” Kitzinger said of the numbers.“We went over everything and made sure the numbers jibed.”

“Prosser gains 7,500 votes; Fleebaggers’ heads spontaneously exploding,” summarizes Weasel Zippers.

Nathan Wurtzel: “I’ll be honest: I don’t blame Dems for being ticked off about WI. If it was the other way around, I would be furious.”

We would be screaming ‘BS’, right? While a narrow Democrat victory is always possible in a close, hard-fought race, we’ve just heard too many horror stories about ACORN and multiple registrations and ballots riding around for days in election workers’ cars. As soon as the final precincts indicated a close race, you heard the cynical scoffing from many (including myself) – “too bad it’s not outside the margin of fraud.”

Dave Weigel notices most folks’ reactions are predictable: “WANTED: A pundit who had the same reaction to missing ballots being found and changing result in Minnesota 2008, Wisconsin 2011.”

Give some credit to Ann Althouse – when she saw the initial results reported on Election Night, she thought something smelled funny: “UPDATE, 11:43: Dane (Madison’s county) is nearly all in. I don’t see how Kloppenburg can net more than about 3,000 with what’s left of Dane. Waukesha is now shown as completely in, but the numbers didn’t change, so I think something may have been misreported. I took the trouble to do a calculation and was going to predict that Prosser would net 40,000 more votes in Waukesha. What happened?”

She also reacts incredulously when a Politico columnist suggests the recount process could get ugly and partisan: “To become contentious and partisan? It’s been ridiculously contentious and partisan here in Wisconsin since mid-February. It’s hard to understand why the Republicans should stand down now. Prosser was way ahead and would have easily won if Democrats hadn’t turned what was supposed to be a nonpartisan election into a referendum on the Republican governor they hate. It took Prosser a long time to realize he had to fight like a politician and not just sit quietly modeling traditional judicial demeanor. Outrageous, dirty politics was played against the old jurist, and he had little idea what to do about it. Now, his advocates are supposed to play nice so things won’t get ugly? We’ve been in uglyville since February.”

The Ace of Spades is downright giddy about the implications: “A lot of people have pointed out: This officially means Wisconsin is a purple state. It might even be reddish. Even if it had been an even split — what the hell? We heard for weeks about how outraged the left was, how animated. Because I still get my news, even second-hand, from the media, I got the impression the left was roaring back. But they never bothered to report how animated the right still was, huh? They sort of wishcasted that all away, huh? So, at the end of the day, in an election the left poured money and energy in to, and had the media faithfully singing from their hymnals… we won. In Wisconsin. I don’t know — I think based upon this Wisconsin is officially “Lean GOP” in November.”

At Legal Insurrection,William Jacobson offers an appropriate historical parallel: “It is way, way, way too early for us to celebrate, and there will be a recount regardless, but how good would it be if this became the Dewey Defeats Truman of our time?”

Tags: David Prosser , Wisconsin


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