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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In the Wisconsin Recall, It's the GOP Who Are Acting Worried

Wisconsin recall protester
Embattled Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker knows something that the pundits don't. While everyone else is looking at Walker's single-digit lead in the polls (within the margin of error for most and closing, by the way) and declaring Walker the winner of a contest still a week away, King Scotty is hidden away in his castle. The rabble are much closer to storming the gates than the court seers are willing to admit. His grip on power is as fragile as an egg and must be handled very, very gently.


With a slim lead in the polls and just a week to go until the June 5 recall election, Scott Walker isn’t taking any chances.

The Wisconsin governor is running under the radar in an attempt to freeze the race where it stands and limit the chances of a momentum-shifting mistake.

His engagements in public venues have tailed off. Retail events have given way to rallies with supporters at campaign offices. Walker’s passive debate performance Friday, where he seemed more comfortable withstanding rhetorical blows from Democrat Tom Barrett than landing many of his own, offered more signs of his play-it-safe homestretch approach. The governor even passed on asking Barrett a direct question — usually a ripe opportunity to place an opponent on defense for a perceived weakness.

Reading that does not bring to mind the word "confidence."


This is a man who's spending about 170% of what his opponent is spending on advertising. That's not figuring in millions in super PAC advertising, which is not a direct contribution to Walker's campaign. And the best he can do is barely hold his head above water -- if he's even managing to do that. This is a man who has the Koch brothers busing in adoring crowds from out of state to create the illusion of widespread support. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.

And that polling that shows Walker clinging on to his slim lead? Well, that may not actually be worth all that much.

Chris Cillizza, Washington Post:

Democrats caution, rightly, not to put too much stock in any of the polling due to the uniqueness of the circumstances; Wisconsin has never had a gubernatorial recall election before and therefore predicting turnout in a poll is even more difficult than it is is a more traditional contest.

Democrats also believe that if they can keep Walker’s margin to low single-digits heading into the vote next Tuesday they can win it on the ground thanks to their superior organizational efforts — much of which is being spearheaded by labor unions. As evidence of their organizational edge, Democrats note that early voting is running higher than expected — a good sign for them, they believe.

While Democrats continue to insist that the race remains a toss-up, Republicans are privately growing more and more confident — insisting that they have shown the incumbent with a solid single-digit lead in internal polling for some time.

Keep in mind that when Republicans tell a journalist something "privately," it means the opposite -- they know it's going to wind up in print. While Democrats and recall supporters have been happy to release their internal polling, Republicans are less inclined to prove their claims. And by "less inclined," I mean "not at all inclined." They'll tell someone like Cillizza that things look good -- and you'll just have to take their word for that.

And that "organizational edge" has the right terrified. Over at Zombie Breitbart, Mike Flynn tells wingnuts the shocking, horrifying, outrageous truth: early voting is easy, recall supporters are helping early voters cast ballots, canvassers are going door to door, and unions have vans to drive people to the polls. The propaganda arm of the GOP doesn't have a lot to work with here, but they're trying to cook up some sort of recall dirty-tricks to be freaked out about. They aren't very sanguine about this and they don't want their voters to be either.

If Barrett's the winner after all the smoke clears, the punditry will declare it a "stunning upset" -- which is what they always do when their laziness doesn't pay off. But recall supporters won't be surprised at all.

And, considering all the evidence, neither will Walker or the Republicans.


[Photo credit: Sue Peacock, via Flickr]

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