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The Campaign Spot

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

Decision Day Dawns in Wisconsin



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It’s Tuesday, Recall Election Day in Wisconsin. I wonder if MSNBC will see a surge in viewers tonight, as optimistic (but hopefully not overconfident) righties tune in to watch the hosts’ collective meltdown?

From the Morning Jolt today:

It’s Decision Day in America’s Dairyland!

If you live in Wisconsin, go vote. But you probably know that already. If you know someone in Wisconsin,you may want to encourage tehm to vote, but… consdierhin how thye’ve been at the epicenter of a political earthquake and about two years’ worth of aftershocks, they probably know it’s recall election day already. They may just scream in response, “LEAVE ME ALONE!”

And you really can’t blame them:

A bitterly contested state Supreme Court race in April 2011 — when incumbent Justice David Prosser narrowly survived a recount — was followed by a state Senate recall primary and general elections through the summer, municipal voting in February, the presidential primary in April and more recall primaries on May 8, including one for governor.

If there’s any state that epitomizes what the permanent campaign feels like, it’s this one. Wisconsin voters essentially have been asked to cast ballots every 60 days for more than a year, and they’ve been exposed to a relentless barrage of television and radio advertisements, mailers, phone calls, yard signs, stump speeches and debates.

All told, close to $110 million in political advertising has been spent through May 21, according to Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks such spending, and it’s left residents with a bad case of election fatigue.

I’ve been checking in at the liberal blog FireDogLake to see how the lefty grassroots are taking the Wisconsin developments. David Dayen writes:

Labor keeps insisting that they have a superior ground game, and even the DNC has said this is a “dry run” for November (I would argue that it’s not all that dry, giving the implications of a union-busting Governor beating back a labor-led surge). This is an opportunity to test the voter turnout systems for the fall.

Ultimately, however, one must acknowledge that no public poll has shown Barrett in front. That argues strongly that Walker will be able to hold on. He goes into Election Day a small favorite. Moreover, with public employee union membership in the state declining as the anti-collective bargaining law gets implemented, as was the point, this could represent a high-water mark from an electoral standpoint for labor in the state. They will not have the funds anymore as their membership gets decimated. The larger war, to drain funds from a Democratic-friendly source, has been fought and concluded, in many respects. Building worker power becomes that much harder when the right to organize is restricted. I don’t know what the answer is post-recall, but it probably doesn’t lie with elections.

Walker has won the campaign spending and advertising war, for whatever that’s worth:

Walker, the Republican Governors Association, and independent tea party groups and other grassroots fiscal conservative organizations have spent around $2.484 million to run ads in the recall campaign over the past week, according to data provided to its clients by Kantar Media/Campaign Media Analysis Group, a company that tracks and estimates the costs of campaign television ads. That’s more than double the $1.125 million Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Walker’s Democratic challenger, Democratic Party committees and independent progressive groups have spent to run commercials from last Monday through Sunday. Overall nearly $3.6 million has been spent to flood Wisconsin airwaves with recall spots the past week.

If Barrett loses, expect to hear a lot of Democrats insisting, without much compelling evidence, that they would have won handily if their side had just spent more money. Of course, if a Democratic takeover of the governorship of a swing state – and a warning to every other GOP governor who dares cross public sector unions – was just a matter of spending more money… why wouldn’t the DNC or its allied groups spend the bucks necessary?

For what it’s worth, Conservative Art Critic over at Ace of Spades, who has been following this recall obsessively – but in the good way – makes his final projection of 52 percent to 48 percent.  Nate Silver concludes, “If we put Walker’s lead in WI polls into our forecasting model, it would give him about a 95% chance of beating Barrett.”


Tags: Scott Walker , Tom Barrett , Wisconsin


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