Milwaukee, Wis. — Folks, it’s been a wild night — no, a wild year. Here are some scribbles from Barrett’s empty ballroom at the Hilton.
– Walker is the first governor in history to beat a recall. And he galloped to victory in a bluish state — with more votes than he won during his 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
– Walker’s policies, not his personality, won him the election. According to a recent Marquette University poll, 55 percent of likely voters said they favor limiting collective bargaining for public-sector employees.
– Walker’s administration wasn’t torn apart. His lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, kept her job. But the state senate may have flipped to the Democrats, due to a close race in Racine.
– Turnout hit record highs across the state — more than 55 percent according to the Associated Press.
– Wisconsin Democrats are deflated. Many of them are angry with the president for avoiding Wisconsin. Post-Walker, they may help Tammy Baldwin with her Senate bid and knock on doors for Obama, but this was the race of the year — and they lost big.#more#
– John Nichols of The Nation on the Left’s error: “They made mistakes, particularly as regards to messaging. They were let down by national Democratic players.”
– Barrett to NRO, post-concession, on whether he blames Obama: “No, not tonight. Tonight is about talking with friends.” Or getting struck by them: An enraged woman slapped the mayor for conceding. (Jim has the video.)
– The Clintons remain popular among Wisconsin Democrats. One Milwaukee teacher told me tonight, after Barrett’s speech, that he’ll “remember [Bill] Clinton’s visit” if Secretary Clinton runs in 2016.
– The Badger State GOP is pumped about its November chances. After boosting Justice Prosser last spring, then rallying behind the recalled state senators and Walker, they’re in tip-top campaign shape.
– Team Obama is clinging to the president’s decent numbers in the exit polls — a strange strategy, to say the least. Romney has barely begun his general-election campaign and, after Walker’s win, he likely sees an opportunity.
– Romney’s statement: “Governor Walker has shown that citizens and taxpayers can fight back and prevail against the runaway government costs imposed by labor bosses.”
– The takeaway from Walker’s speech: As the victor, he’ll seek unity. “We are no longer opponents,” he told the crowd in nearby Waukesha. “We are one as Wisconsinites.” (Watch it here.)
– Beers and brats with Barrett would be a good start.
– Ed Schultz after NBC News called the race for Walker: “Okay, I think it’s awful close and there’s a lot of absentee ballots yet that are still out and it’s going to be very, very close down to the wire.”
– Even though voter identification is a perennial issue in Wisconsin, it didn’t tip the outcome.
– As we predicted, the Milwaukee suburbs were critical to Walker’s win.
– Jesse Jackson was ubiquitous at Barrett HQ — and as expected, he raised a few eyebrows.
– Walker’s 53 percent win was impressive, but a few of those voters may drift back to the Democratic column. On the trail, bipartisan anger about the recall process was a constant refrain.
– Walker’s numbers among independents are solid, according to CBS News. Among this coveted group, he beat Barrett soundly, 54 percent to 45 percent.
– And lastly, Barrett’s late-night spin: Yes, I lost, but “democracy came alive.”