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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

A Heroic Effort Falls Short

Well that didn't go well. In last night's recall elections in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker scored a pretty decisive win -- 52% went for Walker, while 46% went to challenger Tom Barrett. Democrats take the consolation prize of the state senate, with former state Sen. John Lehman eking out a win over incumbent Sen. Van Wanggaard. The days of Walker's rubber-stamp legislature are over, so not a total loss. At least, for now.

Looking at the results, it seems that the national polling was correct. Barrett's and Democrats' internals were not so correct. Milwaukee didn't turn out as much as had been hoped (but Dane County, you are awesome), so perhaps that was the problem there -- the projections were off.

So what happened? The Wisconsinites who did turn out simply had no taste for a recall.

Wisconsin State Journal:

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said the overriding message from Tuesday's election was that many Wisconsin voters are sick of the "recall madness," which has led to recall elections against 13 state senators, Walker and Kleefisch.

"People are tired of recalls, and they don't think a recall was justified," he said.

Exit polling (which, admittedly, was shown last night to be flawed) backs that up. 60% of voters polled believed that recalls "are legitimate only for official misconduct."


So it's less of a case of loving Walker and more of a case of recall fatigue. We'll get him next time -- if the John Doe probe doesn't get him first.

Other than that, I'm still sorting through the wreckage here. One thing that's become very clear is that big money has to be purged from our electoral process. Walker outraised Barrett 7:1 and that may have made the difference for him -- if Barrett's vote total was proportionate to his war chest, he would've taken a mere 14% of the vote. Given what the two candidates spent per vote, Barrett might've buried Walker had the playing field been more level -- his spending was more than three times as effective as his opponent's. But Walker wallpapered Wisconsin with out of state, special interest money and it paid off.

"I think it's another lesson for all of us that money has an extraordinarily strong influence in campaigns," said state Rep. Mark Pocan. "When you don't have a balance in campaign spending, all too often money speaks the loudest."

It sure did here.


[image credit: adapted from a photo by marctasman, via Flickr]

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