The Corner

Democrats Search for Silver Lining in Wisconsin Defeat

Democrats are looking for silver linings from the drubbing they received in Wisconsin last night. They’ve seized on an exit poll showing that while Scott Walker exceeded his 2010 margin of victory last night in winning by seven points, the same electorate that kept him in office would support Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by 51 percent to 45 percent.

If the election were held today, Obama would likely win Wisconsin. But the election won’t be held till November, and Romney will now inherit Walker’s ground game and the psychological boost Republicans all over the state have gotten.

After all, this is a state Obama carried by 13 points in 2008, so the exit-poll numbers he notched up are a serious fallback from that showing. (Extrapolate that erosion of support to the national level and Obama falls from 53 percent of the vote in 2008 to 46 percent).

Even Obama campaign director Jim Messina is now listing Wisconsin as a tossup state for the first time on his election map. Last September, it was solidly placed in the Obama camp under all five of the scenarios that Messina outlined to donors as leading to an Obama victory.

Democrats are also crowing that they appear to have won in one of the four recall elections they triggered for GOP state senate seats. Democrat John Lehman of Racine has a 779-vote margin that is likely to survive a recount. He will deliver control of the state senate to Democrats by a 17 to 16 margin, but, as I wrote yesterday, the victory may be Pyrrhic. The state senate has finished its business for the year, and while it can reconvene for a special session to fulminate against Walker, nothing will be done legislatively.

Even some Democrats privately acknowledge that the carefully crafted GOP redistricting map in place for November’s election makes it likely that Scott Walker’s allies will control that body — as well as the state assembly — after the November election. Here’s hoping that they will consider legislation to reform the state’s “honor system” of same-day voter registration, which allowed thousands of people to flood polling places and vote without showing adequate identification to overworked election officials — some of whom just waved people into polling booths without any safeguards against fraud.

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