Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Trying to make some sense of the Wisconsin vote

Precincts Reported: 99%
As of 3:16 a.m. ET
Source: Associated Press
Indicates winner

The right is jubilant. Just look at them dance for joy. Read their headlines:
Governor Walker's Victory Spells Doom For Public Sector Unions" -- Forbes
"Victory for Walker could spell doom for Obama" -- FOX News
"Biggest losers: Teacher’s unions earn “F” for Wisconsin recall abuse" -- Michelle Malkin
I haven't had time to really analyze the vote totals yet. I'm still not sure who voted and who didn't, especially in cities like Milwaukee, Madison, Kenosha, and Racine although I hear the turnout there was at record highs. Three-fourths of the state's African-American population lives in Milwaukee and I know the black and Latino vote went heavily for Barrett, as did the youth and women's vote.

What I can already see is that, considering Walker outspent Barrett 10-1, his 7-point margin of victory ain't much. Nobody in Wisconsin really won anything here. If anything, this was a victory for Citizens United and the Koch Bros. and a big defeat for the democratic process, such as it is. And what did Walker's T-Party billionaires really get for their $45 million? They managed to retain control over the State House that they already had. Only now, they will have to spend the rest of the year, heading into the national elections and the rest of Walker's term, confronted by a well-organized (if poorly-funded) grass-roots movement, spearheaded by organized labor. Does that put them in an envious position? I don't think so.

Interestingly, exit polls showed that 65% of Walker's votes came from people who didn't necessarily agree with his union-busting policies, but  who thought the idea of a recall election was a bad way to get rid of election pols. Also, Barrett, wasn't a strong candidate, only ran a short, underfunded campaign and certainly wasn't really a strong pro-union candidate. Some 37% of union households voted for Walker.

As for "doom"  for Obama, I doubt it. The Democrats carefully and consciously kept Obama away from Wisconsin as did the Republicans with Romney. Wisconsin is a battleground state that went for Obama in '08. The Dems certainly weren't going to invest big capital in a race that they had already decided was a probable loser.  As a result, Obama most likely comes out of this unscathed. In other words, Obama once again did the smart thing rather than necessarily the right thing.  What else is new?  Exit polls showed most voters favoring Obama over Romney by a 9% margin, a bigger margin that Walker's victory over Barrett.

Nagging questions remains however. What if the DNC had put $10 million more into this race? What if Obama and other heavy hitters had been more visible and held massive campaign rallies in Milwaukee and Madison? Could they have squeezed another 150,000 votes on top of an already high voter turn out? We'll never know.

What-ifs aside, the progressive movement in Wisconsin continues to grow. Hopefully it will regroup and continue to fight in defense of schools, teachers and collective bargaining rights for the state's public employees.


  1. Agree completely. i know a good number of people up there who were so fed up with the money wasted on the recall in addition to feeling the recall process is set aside for Illinois governor types that break the law while in office. Ethics of how Walker handled this aside, he hasn't been proven to have broken any laws while in office (yet). So they voted for Walker even though they disagree with his decision.

    It means nothing really in the big picture. This country has the attention span of a housefly. It doesn't project to anything. The media must always revert to hyperbole with every event in this country. Everything's a mandate, everything's a sweeping win/loss with widespread implications. This is no different.

    I do think it's good though that a lot of attention is being paid to where these Republican's money is coming from. The more people who understand Citizens United and its implications is better for our country.

  2. ReTiredbutMisstheKidsJune 6, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    Thanks, Mike. Your analysis of the "victory" makes me feel a little better. I came to your blog via Fred's, & I have to
    --sadly, but not surprisingly--agree with the questions surrounding the DNC & the absence of Obama.
    Yes, the lack of presence/support indicates that something is afoot, indeed. And--according to the huge headline on the front page of The Sun-Times today (article by the astute Lynn Sweet),"Beyond Recall: Wisconsin's Mixed Message-While voters in the Badger State kept their Republican governor in office, they're still comfortable voting for Obama."
    That being said, why would he have to bother to come out? Did he come out wearing "his union shoes" (or marching shoes or whatever he called them) when teachers filled the state capitol in Madison?
    No, but he did give a big shout-out to the Central Falls, R.I. teacher purge!

    Questions need to be asked & answered...
    As long as I'm on that subject

  3. It's not Obama's problem. It's our problem that we spend too much of our time waiting for Obama.


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