Wisconsin as the preliminary bout

Today is a big day not only because of the Transit of Venus (see below) but because Wisconsin will vote on whether or not to recall Governor Scott Walker for curtailing collective bargaining for public employee unions.

All eyes will be on my former state because experts are seeing it as a preview of what might happen in the presidential election.  If voters decide to keep the Republican Walker, that might be a sign they will vote Republican in the presidential race.  That doesn’t happen very often in Wisconsin, but if they do, it may well be enough to tip the Electoral College  to Mitt Romney.

In Wisconsin recall, it’s TV ad spending vs. boots on the ground – The Washington Post.

What do things look like, Badgers?  When I lived there, things were peaceful and people were nice.  My impression is that union supporters are in a frenzy, but that such a public display of emotion is turning off other citizens of the badger state.  If Walker is kept in, does that really also mean a repudiation of Obama, who has campaigned hard to recall him in favor of Democratic candidate Tom Barrett, who won the primary though he as mayor of Milwaukee also  battled the unions?  Or do Wisconsin voters see these as two different things?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Tom Hering

    If Walker is kept in, does that really also mean a repudiation of Obama, who has campaigned hard to recall him …

    Say what?! When? Where? The only time we’ve seen national Democrats show up to help the recall effort was this past week, and the President wasn’t one of them. He hasn’t given us a single word of support that I’m aware of.

  • Tom Hering

    If Walker is kept in, does that really also mean a repudiation of Obama, who has campaigned hard to recall him …

    Say what?! When? Where? The only time we’ve seen national Democrats show up to help the recall effort was this past week, and the President wasn’t one of them. He hasn’t given us a single word of support that I’m aware of.

  • formerly just steve
  • formerly just steve
  • formerly just steve

    I think it’s two different things. The public generally has a high bar for recalling sitting executives but that doesn’t mean they necessarily endorse them. On the other hand, its clear to me from Obama’s lackluster support of the recall, and his subsequent tiptoeing backwards away from it not only tells us he thinks the recall effort is ultimately going down in defeat but that it could have an impact on his campaign.

  • formerly just steve

    I think it’s two different things. The public generally has a high bar for recalling sitting executives but that doesn’t mean they necessarily endorse them. On the other hand, its clear to me from Obama’s lackluster support of the recall, and his subsequent tiptoeing backwards away from it not only tells us he thinks the recall effort is ultimately going down in defeat but that it could have an impact on his campaign.

  • Chessieman

    I would say that the state is definitely very frustrated about the recall elections. I have been volunteering for Walker over the past few days and frequently people will slam their doors or hang-up their phones as soon as they hear we are making a call/door-knocking related to the election, even before we say who we are calling/campaigning for.

    While the entire state is very fed-up with all the recalls (here in the E.C. area, this will be our fourth election this year) I think if anything this frustration benefits Walker more than anything else.

    One of our neighbors is a staunch democrat and even had a Barrett sign up in the first election, this election they have a 4×8 Walker sign in their yard. They stated they are so sick of the recall elections they are supporting Walker, “He did what he said he’d do, and now we are just like two-year-olds complaining about not getting the toys we wanted.” Basically they summed up their support by saying, “Even though we didn’t agree with all the ways Walker has done it, he has balanced our budget and benefited our schools by allowing them more flexibility to reduce costs.”

    I believe that the polls will reflect this sentiment today as people both support Walker and voice opposition for the futile recall elections.

    As far as the general temperament of the state, the unions have definitely divided the state, and have shown their true selfish colors. I can say this as I as well work in the public sector under public sector unions. Thankfully, with Walker’s reforms I no longer have lock-step with the public sector union giants. In general the strong-armed union antics have really turned a lot of voters off of politics. I have friends who have been intimidated by by the unions with threats on their jobs if they vote for Walker.

    People are mad about politics and sharply divided. The deep wounds this fight has caused will take time to heal, and will greatly affect the political campaigns in Wisconsin for the near future.

    I guess this is my opinion from the few thousand doors I’ve knocked on and phone calls I’ve made this weekend. I’m looking forward to great returns tonight!

  • Chessieman

    I would say that the state is definitely very frustrated about the recall elections. I have been volunteering for Walker over the past few days and frequently people will slam their doors or hang-up their phones as soon as they hear we are making a call/door-knocking related to the election, even before we say who we are calling/campaigning for.

    While the entire state is very fed-up with all the recalls (here in the E.C. area, this will be our fourth election this year) I think if anything this frustration benefits Walker more than anything else.

    One of our neighbors is a staunch democrat and even had a Barrett sign up in the first election, this election they have a 4×8 Walker sign in their yard. They stated they are so sick of the recall elections they are supporting Walker, “He did what he said he’d do, and now we are just like two-year-olds complaining about not getting the toys we wanted.” Basically they summed up their support by saying, “Even though we didn’t agree with all the ways Walker has done it, he has balanced our budget and benefited our schools by allowing them more flexibility to reduce costs.”

    I believe that the polls will reflect this sentiment today as people both support Walker and voice opposition for the futile recall elections.

    As far as the general temperament of the state, the unions have definitely divided the state, and have shown their true selfish colors. I can say this as I as well work in the public sector under public sector unions. Thankfully, with Walker’s reforms I no longer have lock-step with the public sector union giants. In general the strong-armed union antics have really turned a lot of voters off of politics. I have friends who have been intimidated by by the unions with threats on their jobs if they vote for Walker.

    People are mad about politics and sharply divided. The deep wounds this fight has caused will take time to heal, and will greatly affect the political campaigns in Wisconsin for the near future.

    I guess this is my opinion from the few thousand doors I’ve knocked on and phone calls I’ve made this weekend. I’m looking forward to great returns tonight!

  • Chessieman

    I guess I didn’t tie my comment in with Obama. Obama has (wisely) stayed out of the race. Obama is not overly liked in Wisconsin right now, and if by some chance Barrett does get in, Obama will have Barrett’s full support in November anyways. However, if Obama ties himself to closely with Barrett right now,Wisconsin voters would just as quickly reject him come November if Walker wins. Obama sees no reason to tie his stakes so closely with Barrett.

    Also, regardless of Barrett’s actions in Milwaukee, he is directly tied with Unions. They are the catalyst of this election, and have been huge supporters of Barrett. Consequently Barrett has willingly towed their line, and tied himself directly with the unions. For the most part this election will show the Wisconsin opinion between unions and Walker.

  • Chessieman

    I guess I didn’t tie my comment in with Obama. Obama has (wisely) stayed out of the race. Obama is not overly liked in Wisconsin right now, and if by some chance Barrett does get in, Obama will have Barrett’s full support in November anyways. However, if Obama ties himself to closely with Barrett right now,Wisconsin voters would just as quickly reject him come November if Walker wins. Obama sees no reason to tie his stakes so closely with Barrett.

    Also, regardless of Barrett’s actions in Milwaukee, he is directly tied with Unions. They are the catalyst of this election, and have been huge supporters of Barrett. Consequently Barrett has willingly towed their line, and tied himself directly with the unions. For the most part this election will show the Wisconsin opinion between unions and Walker.

  • Tom Hering

    Chessieman @ 3, I’ll match you story for story about Wisconsinites who are sick and tired of out-of-state conservative billionaires and organizations using our state as a testbed for their radical national agenda.

  • Tom Hering

    Chessieman @ 3, I’ll match you story for story about Wisconsinites who are sick and tired of out-of-state conservative billionaires and organizations using our state as a testbed for their radical national agenda.

  • formerly just steve

    No, Tom, they’re much more comfortable with international unions pouring money (and busing protesters) into the state.

  • formerly just steve

    No, Tom, they’re much more comfortable with international unions pouring money (and busing protesters) into the state.

  • Carl Vehse

    A victory for Gov. Walker, especially a strong one, should be tied more to a mandate to eviscerate Wisconsin unions for their illegal activities.

  • Carl Vehse

    A victory for Gov. Walker, especially a strong one, should be tied more to a mandate to eviscerate Wisconsin unions for their illegal activities.

  • Chessieman

    @Tom: Sentiments can fall both ways, and there are many strong opinions on this matter all across the state. However, at least on the western side of the state where I have been campaigning, the majority of my contacts have expressed frustration against the national unions.

    I have talked to many teachers and public workers who express frustration about the national unions and their strong-arm tactics.

    I would also like to point out that large out-of-state unions have been some of the largest contributors in this election. For years our state’s leadership has lived in fear of these unions, their tremendous money and ambition. I guess the past two years has been the tipping point, and today we will see whether these powerful interest groups an their paid workers are able to counteract the grassroots movement and the support of small-business across the state that Walker has been getting.

    I know in Western Wisconsin there are scarcely 4 paid workers on Walker’s campaign, and I worked over the weekend with dozens of volunteers. We had 5 small businesses risk a foray into politics by posting political signs in support of Walker. On the other hand, I encountered 8 paid workers for Barrett and the big unions. I think the contrast is clear.

    Obviously we disagree on this issue, so our perceptions will also be so tinted, but I believe that the state-wide election will reflect this general sentiment today.

  • Chessieman

    @Tom: Sentiments can fall both ways, and there are many strong opinions on this matter all across the state. However, at least on the western side of the state where I have been campaigning, the majority of my contacts have expressed frustration against the national unions.

    I have talked to many teachers and public workers who express frustration about the national unions and their strong-arm tactics.

    I would also like to point out that large out-of-state unions have been some of the largest contributors in this election. For years our state’s leadership has lived in fear of these unions, their tremendous money and ambition. I guess the past two years has been the tipping point, and today we will see whether these powerful interest groups an their paid workers are able to counteract the grassroots movement and the support of small-business across the state that Walker has been getting.

    I know in Western Wisconsin there are scarcely 4 paid workers on Walker’s campaign, and I worked over the weekend with dozens of volunteers. We had 5 small businesses risk a foray into politics by posting political signs in support of Walker. On the other hand, I encountered 8 paid workers for Barrett and the big unions. I think the contrast is clear.

    Obviously we disagree on this issue, so our perceptions will also be so tinted, but I believe that the state-wide election will reflect this general sentiment today.

  • Joe

    Tom –you realize that under our federal system the States are supposed to be the test beds of new policies. That is why the Supreme Court calls the States “laborarories of democracy.”

    Anyway, there is lots of energey on both sides today, but I do personally know severl democrats who are voting for Walker becuase they think recalls should not be used in the absense of a crime, etc. I don’t know anyone who identifies as a Rep who is voting for Barrett.

    As for Obama — Latest poll I saw had Walker up 7 points and Obama up 9 points. How can this be? Walker is gettign the anti-recall vote which is helping him carry independants but those independants may not become Reps. in the long run.

  • Joe

    Tom –you realize that under our federal system the States are supposed to be the test beds of new policies. That is why the Supreme Court calls the States “laborarories of democracy.”

    Anyway, there is lots of energey on both sides today, but I do personally know severl democrats who are voting for Walker becuase they think recalls should not be used in the absense of a crime, etc. I don’t know anyone who identifies as a Rep who is voting for Barrett.

    As for Obama — Latest poll I saw had Walker up 7 points and Obama up 9 points. How can this be? Walker is gettign the anti-recall vote which is helping him carry independants but those independants may not become Reps. in the long run.

  • Cincinnatus

    A couple of comments:

    First, I must represent an opinion too little heard in Wisconsin: I rather loathe Walker as a corporate hack and urban corruptocrat (though I have no objections to his “assault” on collective bargaining), but I also contest the procedural prudence of this recall. It controverts our republican and constitutional form of government to activate a massive, disruptive, expensive, splenetic exercise in plebiscitary populism simply because a duly elected leader and duly elected legislature craft and enact a policy opposed by a certain faction of the population. Except in cases of criminal malfeasance, neglect of constitutional responsibilities, etc., initiating recalls purely due to policy disputes sets a bad and destabilizing precedent. I could go on, but I’ll just state, for the record, that I’m staying home and refusing to participate in the recall today as a (statistically meaningless) protest to this ridiculous exercise in cynical populism.

    Second, my prediction–nay, virtual certainty–is that Walker will win. All polls predict this, for what they’re worth. I’ll be superficially surprised–but otherwise apathetic, as I couldn’t care less about the outcome of this election–if Barrett, the mayor of a failed city who makes Al Gore look charismatic, wins. But, and here’s the kicker, it doesn’t matter. On the one hand, Walker has expended all his political capital, and has stated no interest in pursuing any other major policy initiatives in the near-to-medium-term future. Collective bargaining was the atom bomb (even though it’s a typical policy in many other states, but that’s another discussion…). On the other hand, if Barrett were to win, he would be a lame duck juxtaposed against a Republican legislature. He wouldn’t be able to do anything meaningful to oppose or overturn the policy (Act 10) he is ostensibly being elected to oppose or overturn. He would be able to pursue no policies of his own. And he would be up for election again in a couple of years.

    Which leads me to my third point…

    This recall election has almost nothing to do predictively with whatever will happen in November’s presidential election in Wisconsin, and any commentator’s who think so are being sensationalist. The demographics of those who vote today and those who vote in November will likely be different. And there is a reason the National Democratic Party hasn’t had anything to do with the recall–and has in fact distanced itself from the whole spectacle. Precisely because it is a spectacle that would be a waste of national campaign funds. Barrett is a weak candidate who won’t add anything to the Democratic political arsenal. He’s unlikely to win. And his victory would mean nothing for November: hatred of Walker has not translated into love of Obama in Wisconsin. In fact, while I won’t be surprised if Romney wins Wisconsin in the fall–Wisconsin is rather a red state these days–I expect that it’s more likely that Wisconsin will go for Obama again, as they did in 2008, regardless of the outcome of today’s recall.

    And in case it wasn’t clear, bah humbug to pointless recall elections. Wisconsin has been in perpetual campaign mode since early 2010, and I’m sick of it.

  • Cincinnatus

    A couple of comments:

    First, I must represent an opinion too little heard in Wisconsin: I rather loathe Walker as a corporate hack and urban corruptocrat (though I have no objections to his “assault” on collective bargaining), but I also contest the procedural prudence of this recall. It controverts our republican and constitutional form of government to activate a massive, disruptive, expensive, splenetic exercise in plebiscitary populism simply because a duly elected leader and duly elected legislature craft and enact a policy opposed by a certain faction of the population. Except in cases of criminal malfeasance, neglect of constitutional responsibilities, etc., initiating recalls purely due to policy disputes sets a bad and destabilizing precedent. I could go on, but I’ll just state, for the record, that I’m staying home and refusing to participate in the recall today as a (statistically meaningless) protest to this ridiculous exercise in cynical populism.

    Second, my prediction–nay, virtual certainty–is that Walker will win. All polls predict this, for what they’re worth. I’ll be superficially surprised–but otherwise apathetic, as I couldn’t care less about the outcome of this election–if Barrett, the mayor of a failed city who makes Al Gore look charismatic, wins. But, and here’s the kicker, it doesn’t matter. On the one hand, Walker has expended all his political capital, and has stated no interest in pursuing any other major policy initiatives in the near-to-medium-term future. Collective bargaining was the atom bomb (even though it’s a typical policy in many other states, but that’s another discussion…). On the other hand, if Barrett were to win, he would be a lame duck juxtaposed against a Republican legislature. He wouldn’t be able to do anything meaningful to oppose or overturn the policy (Act 10) he is ostensibly being elected to oppose or overturn. He would be able to pursue no policies of his own. And he would be up for election again in a couple of years.

    Which leads me to my third point…

    This recall election has almost nothing to do predictively with whatever will happen in November’s presidential election in Wisconsin, and any commentator’s who think so are being sensationalist. The demographics of those who vote today and those who vote in November will likely be different. And there is a reason the National Democratic Party hasn’t had anything to do with the recall–and has in fact distanced itself from the whole spectacle. Precisely because it is a spectacle that would be a waste of national campaign funds. Barrett is a weak candidate who won’t add anything to the Democratic political arsenal. He’s unlikely to win. And his victory would mean nothing for November: hatred of Walker has not translated into love of Obama in Wisconsin. In fact, while I won’t be surprised if Romney wins Wisconsin in the fall–Wisconsin is rather a red state these days–I expect that it’s more likely that Wisconsin will go for Obama again, as they did in 2008, regardless of the outcome of today’s recall.

    And in case it wasn’t clear, bah humbug to pointless recall elections. Wisconsin has been in perpetual campaign mode since early 2010, and I’m sick of it.

  • Cincinnatus

    Also, I will physically slap the next person who calls Walker’s policies “radical.” Get some perspective.

    Tom.

  • Cincinnatus

    Also, I will physically slap the next person who calls Walker’s policies “radical.” Get some perspective.

    Tom.

  • Tom Hering

    Chessieman @ 8, do you really think the recall isn’t a grassroots movement because lots of out-of-state money and manipulators got involved in it? The same thing can be said, quite rightly, about the Walker campaign. So we’ll get nowhere throwing that accusation at each other. The citizens of this state (you and me) are evenly divided. (As of last night, Barrett and Walker are separated by three points – in a poll which has a 2.8% error of margin.)

    And hey, almost every Barrett yard sign I’ve seen since he won the primary has been homemade. Unlike all those “I stand with Scott Walker” signs (which used to read “I stand with Walker” until somebody noticed the easy joke). Me? I stand with Wisconsin, i.e., it’s progessive tradition. Forward!

  • Tom Hering

    Chessieman @ 8, do you really think the recall isn’t a grassroots movement because lots of out-of-state money and manipulators got involved in it? The same thing can be said, quite rightly, about the Walker campaign. So we’ll get nowhere throwing that accusation at each other. The citizens of this state (you and me) are evenly divided. (As of last night, Barrett and Walker are separated by three points – in a poll which has a 2.8% error of margin.)

    And hey, almost every Barrett yard sign I’ve seen since he won the primary has been homemade. Unlike all those “I stand with Scott Walker” signs (which used to read “I stand with Walker” until somebody noticed the easy joke). Me? I stand with Wisconsin, i.e., it’s progessive tradition. Forward!

  • Tom Hering

    “Walker’s policies are radical. Walker’s policies are radical. Walker’s policies are radical.” :-D

  • Tom Hering

    “Walker’s policies are radical. Walker’s policies are radical. Walker’s policies are radical.” :-D

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@14:

    I know vaguely where you live, so I’ll drive out east and ask around till I find you. At which point, *slap*x3.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@14:

    I know vaguely where you live, so I’ll drive out east and ask around till I find you. At which point, *slap*x3.

  • Bob

    You’ve got some of your facts wrong.

    ‘who has campaigned hard to recall him in favor of Democratic candidate Tom Barrett,’

    The truth is just the opposite. Obama has done no campaigning for Barrett. None. He’s said he supports him — but that’s it.

    ‘If Walker is kept in, does that really also mean a repudiation of Obama,’

    The short answer is no. I believe Obama will win Wisconsin.

  • Bob

    You’ve got some of your facts wrong.

    ‘who has campaigned hard to recall him in favor of Democratic candidate Tom Barrett,’

    The truth is just the opposite. Obama has done no campaigning for Barrett. None. He’s said he supports him — but that’s it.

    ‘If Walker is kept in, does that really also mean a repudiation of Obama,’

    The short answer is no. I believe Obama will win Wisconsin.

  • Bob

    ‘While the entire state is very fed-up with all the recalls (here in the E.C. area, this will be our fourth election this year) I think if anything this frustration benefits Walker more than anything else.’

    I see it just the opposite.

    Walker’s the one who blew it up first. He seems unable to work with anyone who doesn’t seen things through his ideological lense.

    Barrett has a proven track record — ten years in Congress and a Milwaukee mayor. His style and approach is just the opposite in most every way from Walker’s.

    President Clinton said it last week speaking in Milwaukee: “Constant conflict is a dead bang loser.” People are sick of it.

    That’s what Walker has done. And that’s one reason I think he’ll
    come up short.

  • Bob

    ‘While the entire state is very fed-up with all the recalls (here in the E.C. area, this will be our fourth election this year) I think if anything this frustration benefits Walker more than anything else.’

    I see it just the opposite.

    Walker’s the one who blew it up first. He seems unable to work with anyone who doesn’t seen things through his ideological lense.

    Barrett has a proven track record — ten years in Congress and a Milwaukee mayor. His style and approach is just the opposite in most every way from Walker’s.

    President Clinton said it last week speaking in Milwaukee: “Constant conflict is a dead bang loser.” People are sick of it.

    That’s what Walker has done. And that’s one reason I think he’ll
    come up short.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bob, I agree with both your pronouncements @16. But as for @17, I think your comments are not dispositive of anything.

    First, I’m not so sure that “constant conflict is a dead bang loser.” In fact, I’m not even sure what that means. It’s a platitude that’s thrown about in political contests–usually by the side that’s losing–to secure a few meaningless rhetorical points, but it doesn’t actually mean anything in practice. For better or worse, the mechanisms of mass democracy in our system are premised upon conflict, and the attempt to channel conflict toward productive ends. American democracy functions as a result of dissensus, not consensus. Walker’s policies incited union protests–i.e., conflicts. The recall election itself is a conflict. And arguing that this conflict is the conflict to end all conflicts is naive. If people were truly sick of electoral “conflict,” they would be content to wait like adults for the next regularly scheduled election. But they’re not, apparently (I am, but I don’t speak for most Wisconsinites, obviously). Accordingly, it seems rather pointless, at best, and hypocritical, at worst, to drone on about the evils of conflict–while encouraging the continuation of said conflict. It’s a non-issue. Conflict is happening, and the recall election won’t end the conflict, no matter the result.

    Second, you claim that “Barrett has a proven track record.” Of what? You might be the only person on the planet who, upon reflection, would identify Barrett as anything like a strong candidate. He’s not. He’s a weak candidate. The DNC knows this. State party leadership knows this. I would hope that even Barrett himself knows this. Barrett’s weakness is part of the reason the DNC hasn’t invested or campaigned for the recall! He may have been the strongest of the recall primary candidates, but that only says that there was a severe paucity of plausible Democrats willing to participate in the spectacle. Let me name some strong Democrats with “proven track records”: Russ Feingold, David Obey, heck, even an incendiary twit like Peter Barca. These names are conspicuously absent from the recall election (which is only further evidence that the whole thing is ill-advised, even in the eyes of Democratic Party leadership, but that’s another topic). The point is that Barrett hasn’t much to brag about. He lost the last election. He is the mayor of a demonstrably failed city that is among the worst cities in America on a host of quantitative indicators (dropout rates, unemployment, poverty, etc.), and the city has only spiraled further into the abyss under his lackluster (at best) mayoral tenure, whether said spiral is entirely his fault or not (it’s not). He’s got the personality of a doorknob. You’re just not credible if you claim, in seriousness, that Barrett is a strong candidate with a “proven track record.” Of what? What has Barrett done that he can brag about? Nothing, which is why he hasn’t been bragging about it. He can’t very well claim that he’s been a beloved and successful mayor of Milwaukee, now can he?

    Oh, and don’t forget! Barrett originally couldn’t even get the union endorsement of the major unions. Why? Pay attention, kids: because he publicly took advantage of the provisions of Act 10 to save Milwaukee several million dollars in union contract wage and benefit reductions last year. Yes, folks: Barrett has actually used–and apparently demonstrated the fiscal utility–of the law he is ostensibly campaigning to overturn (which will be impossible, anyway).

  • Cincinnatus

    Bob, I agree with both your pronouncements @16. But as for @17, I think your comments are not dispositive of anything.

    First, I’m not so sure that “constant conflict is a dead bang loser.” In fact, I’m not even sure what that means. It’s a platitude that’s thrown about in political contests–usually by the side that’s losing–to secure a few meaningless rhetorical points, but it doesn’t actually mean anything in practice. For better or worse, the mechanisms of mass democracy in our system are premised upon conflict, and the attempt to channel conflict toward productive ends. American democracy functions as a result of dissensus, not consensus. Walker’s policies incited union protests–i.e., conflicts. The recall election itself is a conflict. And arguing that this conflict is the conflict to end all conflicts is naive. If people were truly sick of electoral “conflict,” they would be content to wait like adults for the next regularly scheduled election. But they’re not, apparently (I am, but I don’t speak for most Wisconsinites, obviously). Accordingly, it seems rather pointless, at best, and hypocritical, at worst, to drone on about the evils of conflict–while encouraging the continuation of said conflict. It’s a non-issue. Conflict is happening, and the recall election won’t end the conflict, no matter the result.

    Second, you claim that “Barrett has a proven track record.” Of what? You might be the only person on the planet who, upon reflection, would identify Barrett as anything like a strong candidate. He’s not. He’s a weak candidate. The DNC knows this. State party leadership knows this. I would hope that even Barrett himself knows this. Barrett’s weakness is part of the reason the DNC hasn’t invested or campaigned for the recall! He may have been the strongest of the recall primary candidates, but that only says that there was a severe paucity of plausible Democrats willing to participate in the spectacle. Let me name some strong Democrats with “proven track records”: Russ Feingold, David Obey, heck, even an incendiary twit like Peter Barca. These names are conspicuously absent from the recall election (which is only further evidence that the whole thing is ill-advised, even in the eyes of Democratic Party leadership, but that’s another topic). The point is that Barrett hasn’t much to brag about. He lost the last election. He is the mayor of a demonstrably failed city that is among the worst cities in America on a host of quantitative indicators (dropout rates, unemployment, poverty, etc.), and the city has only spiraled further into the abyss under his lackluster (at best) mayoral tenure, whether said spiral is entirely his fault or not (it’s not). He’s got the personality of a doorknob. You’re just not credible if you claim, in seriousness, that Barrett is a strong candidate with a “proven track record.” Of what? What has Barrett done that he can brag about? Nothing, which is why he hasn’t been bragging about it. He can’t very well claim that he’s been a beloved and successful mayor of Milwaukee, now can he?

    Oh, and don’t forget! Barrett originally couldn’t even get the union endorsement of the major unions. Why? Pay attention, kids: because he publicly took advantage of the provisions of Act 10 to save Milwaukee several million dollars in union contract wage and benefit reductions last year. Yes, folks: Barrett has actually used–and apparently demonstrated the fiscal utility–of the law he is ostensibly campaigning to overturn (which will be impossible, anyway).

  • DonS

    I think what needs to be said has been well said above. However, I can’t help but repeat this gem from Cincinnatus’ post @ 11:

    but I also contest the procedural prudence of this recall. It controverts our republican and constitutional form of government to activate a massive, disruptive, expensive, splenetic exercise in plebiscitary populism simply because a duly elected leader and duly elected legislature craft and enact a policy opposed by a certain faction of the population. Except in cases of criminal malfeasance, neglect of constitutional responsibilities, etc., initiating recalls purely due to policy disputes sets a bad and destabilizing precedent.

    :-)

  • DonS

    I think what needs to be said has been well said above. However, I can’t help but repeat this gem from Cincinnatus’ post @ 11:

    but I also contest the procedural prudence of this recall. It controverts our republican and constitutional form of government to activate a massive, disruptive, expensive, splenetic exercise in plebiscitary populism simply because a duly elected leader and duly elected legislature craft and enact a policy opposed by a certain faction of the population. Except in cases of criminal malfeasance, neglect of constitutional responsibilities, etc., initiating recalls purely due to policy disputes sets a bad and destabilizing precedent.

    :-)

  • WebMonk

    An author who writes a couple books I thoroughly enjoy, had a post on the recall (he lives in Wisconsin). The thing that caught my attention the most was the (hastily dodged) reaction to a guy who said he had voted for Walker in the primary.

    http://blog.patrickrothfuss.com/2012/06/of-thee-i-sing/

  • WebMonk

    An author who writes a couple books I thoroughly enjoy, had a post on the recall (he lives in Wisconsin). The thing that caught my attention the most was the (hastily dodged) reaction to a guy who said he had voted for Walker in the primary.

    http://blog.patrickrothfuss.com/2012/06/of-thee-i-sing/

  • Cincinnatus

    WebMonk@20: I didn’t know voting for Walker is akin to celebrating FGM. It seems this Rothfuss fellow is part of the problem he himself excoriates if that is the extent of his epistemic closure.

    And how can someone whose political and epistemic horizons are so restricted capable of writing good books? Assuming they are good (haven’t read them, but heard good things).

  • Cincinnatus

    WebMonk@20: I didn’t know voting for Walker is akin to celebrating FGM. It seems this Rothfuss fellow is part of the problem he himself excoriates if that is the extent of his epistemic closure.

    And how can someone whose political and epistemic horizons are so restricted capable of writing good books? Assuming they are good (haven’t read them, but heard good things).

  • Cincinnatus

    I accidentally the whole thing @21.

  • Cincinnatus

    I accidentally the whole thing @21.

  • https://profiles.google.com/114761676313688657626#114761676313688657626/about P.C.

    As a Cheesehead, having now lived in California for 35 yrs, I am hopeful that Governor Walker will prevail.

    If he doesn’t win then I am going to encourage him to move to California and run for governor. Anyone who can take a $3.6 billion deficit inherited from the uber, liberal, former governor Doyle (a much higher per capita deficit by the way than California’s routine and obscene $20+ billion annual budgets deficits) and turn it into a $157 million surplus in 18 months is exactly the type of fiscal and moral leadership that California requires to, once again, become the ideal location to live, work, vacation, and prosper. On Wisconsin!!

  • https://profiles.google.com/114761676313688657626#114761676313688657626/about P.C.

    As a Cheesehead, having now lived in California for 35 yrs, I am hopeful that Governor Walker will prevail.

    If he doesn’t win then I am going to encourage him to move to California and run for governor. Anyone who can take a $3.6 billion deficit inherited from the uber, liberal, former governor Doyle (a much higher per capita deficit by the way than California’s routine and obscene $20+ billion annual budgets deficits) and turn it into a $157 million surplus in 18 months is exactly the type of fiscal and moral leadership that California requires to, once again, become the ideal location to live, work, vacation, and prosper. On Wisconsin!!

  • WebMonk

    Cin, “I accidentally the whole thing @21.”???

    Part of Pat’s personality is grand overstatement. That’s not meant literally, just as a description of the huge reaction he and his friends all had to the statement. And I agree – reactions of that level exacerbate problems. That was part of the point – demonstration of the extreme emotions involved.

  • WebMonk

    Cin, “I accidentally the whole thing @21.”???

    Part of Pat’s personality is grand overstatement. That’s not meant literally, just as a description of the huge reaction he and his friends all had to the statement. And I agree – reactions of that level exacerbate problems. That was part of the point – demonstration of the extreme emotions involved.

  • Cincinnatus

    WebMonk@24: Thanks for clarifying that Rothfuss wasn’t as serious as he seemed to the uninitiated.

    That said, the “extreme emotions” involved here in Wisconsin have certainly contributed to the circus-like quality of the recall saga, as initiated in February 2011. Walker is “radical” and “fascist” and “evil” (and those are the mild insults I’ve heard) who is turning Wisconsin–singlehandedly!–into the Mississippi of the Midwest (Mississippi is the politically correct placeholder for impoverished for political squalor for white Midwesterners who have usually never left their own state). Our educational system will IMPLODE. We’re the mockery of the country–nay, the world! We will never recover if Walker is not recalled! He’s selling us to the Koch brothers!

    All because he passed a budget through the constitutionally legitimate legislative process.

    Meanwhile, those who oppose Walker are “union thugs” and “socialists” sucking at the public teet, singlehandedly ruining our grandchildrens’ future!

    Now, there is a kernel of truth in the “analysis” of both sides. But really, people. As I said to Tom, get some perspective. It is said that academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small. I think that is the case here in Wisconsin. The issues themselves have been exploded beyond all meaningful deliberation by demogogic rhetoric.

  • Cincinnatus

    WebMonk@24: Thanks for clarifying that Rothfuss wasn’t as serious as he seemed to the uninitiated.

    That said, the “extreme emotions” involved here in Wisconsin have certainly contributed to the circus-like quality of the recall saga, as initiated in February 2011. Walker is “radical” and “fascist” and “evil” (and those are the mild insults I’ve heard) who is turning Wisconsin–singlehandedly!–into the Mississippi of the Midwest (Mississippi is the politically correct placeholder for impoverished for political squalor for white Midwesterners who have usually never left their own state). Our educational system will IMPLODE. We’re the mockery of the country–nay, the world! We will never recover if Walker is not recalled! He’s selling us to the Koch brothers!

    All because he passed a budget through the constitutionally legitimate legislative process.

    Meanwhile, those who oppose Walker are “union thugs” and “socialists” sucking at the public teet, singlehandedly ruining our grandchildrens’ future!

    Now, there is a kernel of truth in the “analysis” of both sides. But really, people. As I said to Tom, get some perspective. It is said that academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small. I think that is the case here in Wisconsin. The issues themselves have been exploded beyond all meaningful deliberation by demogogic rhetoric.

  • Tom Hering

    So far, in the heavily Democratic county where I live, voter turnout has been high. I was #563 in the middle of the day in our ward, and I’ve seen other polling places where the line stretches out the door and down the block. I predict a very close win, whoever the winner is. And a recount, whoever the winner is. And a state that for the next two years continues to be passionately and pretty much evenly divided.

  • Tom Hering

    So far, in the heavily Democratic county where I live, voter turnout has been high. I was #563 in the middle of the day in our ward, and I’ve seen other polling places where the line stretches out the door and down the block. I predict a very close win, whoever the winner is. And a recount, whoever the winner is. And a state that for the next two years continues to be passionately and pretty much evenly divided.

  • Tom Hering

    I know vaguely where you live, so I’ll drive out east and ask around till I find you. At which point, *slap*x3.

    I love my proxy server. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    I know vaguely where you live, so I’ll drive out east and ask around till I find you. At which point, *slap*x3.

    I love my proxy server. :-D

  • Matt

    Following the polls leading up to the recall election made me optimistic about Walker’s chances. He’s consistently had a 5 or so point lead in many of the polls, while slightly less in one or two others. Normally this wouldn’t be much of a lead, but people had been aware of Walker’s policies since he passed the union bill, and most people’s opinions were firmly solidified around that time. So that left the Walker and Barrett to fight over the 2 or 3 percent (maybe 4 or 5 percent) of undecideds.

    That leaves core voter passion as the final piece of artillery in both campaign’s arsenal. At the time of the passage of Walker’s bill last year, one would have thought the union supporters would have had the clear advantage. But Barrett won the democratic primary over Kathleen Falk, – even within Madison, Falk’s home turf – although Falk had the overwhelming support of the unions. And even after gaining union support, Barrett’s campaign focused on jobs and Walker’s apparent connection to the John Doe Scandal, with nary a word about the public unions. I think people, independents included, probably thought the union push back against Walker was based on rage (my mom works near where Walker’s family lives, and due to union threats needed daily police surveillance) rather than economic realities and not something they wanted to be a part of. Therefore, it seems the recall is more of a traditional liberal vs. conservative ideological war, rather than a one issue battle where one side alone has a righteous fury on their side. We already had one of these elections. Two years ago. With the exact same candidates. Walker won. So as a Walker supporter I’m cautiously optimistic. As much as the unions hate Walker, his supporters would are just as likely to do anything to vote for him.

    But crazy things can happen. And we’ll find out tonight – presuming their isn’t a recount – who won.

    Also, I tend to agree that this won’t have too much of an impact on the presidential race. The polls of the last few months tend to be pretty consistent in showing Walker having a lead in the recall race, among the same potential voters who give Obama a lead in the presidential race.

  • Matt

    Following the polls leading up to the recall election made me optimistic about Walker’s chances. He’s consistently had a 5 or so point lead in many of the polls, while slightly less in one or two others. Normally this wouldn’t be much of a lead, but people had been aware of Walker’s policies since he passed the union bill, and most people’s opinions were firmly solidified around that time. So that left the Walker and Barrett to fight over the 2 or 3 percent (maybe 4 or 5 percent) of undecideds.

    That leaves core voter passion as the final piece of artillery in both campaign’s arsenal. At the time of the passage of Walker’s bill last year, one would have thought the union supporters would have had the clear advantage. But Barrett won the democratic primary over Kathleen Falk, – even within Madison, Falk’s home turf – although Falk had the overwhelming support of the unions. And even after gaining union support, Barrett’s campaign focused on jobs and Walker’s apparent connection to the John Doe Scandal, with nary a word about the public unions. I think people, independents included, probably thought the union push back against Walker was based on rage (my mom works near where Walker’s family lives, and due to union threats needed daily police surveillance) rather than economic realities and not something they wanted to be a part of. Therefore, it seems the recall is more of a traditional liberal vs. conservative ideological war, rather than a one issue battle where one side alone has a righteous fury on their side. We already had one of these elections. Two years ago. With the exact same candidates. Walker won. So as a Walker supporter I’m cautiously optimistic. As much as the unions hate Walker, his supporters would are just as likely to do anything to vote for him.

    But crazy things can happen. And we’ll find out tonight – presuming their isn’t a recount – who won.

    Also, I tend to agree that this won’t have too much of an impact on the presidential race. The polls of the last few months tend to be pretty consistent in showing Walker having a lead in the recall race, among the same potential voters who give Obama a lead in the presidential race.

  • WebMonk

    Wow. That wasn’t even remotely close. 57% to 43% is a massive margin for something like this.

    What the heck was going on with all the polls that they were so far off?

    It looks like Wisconsin is pretty firmly standing with Scott Walker after all.

  • WebMonk

    Wow. That wasn’t even remotely close. 57% to 43% is a massive margin for something like this.

    What the heck was going on with all the polls that they were so far off?

    It looks like Wisconsin is pretty firmly standing with Scott Walker after all.

  • Carl Vehse

    Best line of the night: “Obama’s dog is cooked.”

  • Carl Vehse

    Best line of the night: “Obama’s dog is cooked.”

  • Matt

    Glad Walker won!

    On another note, is there any benefit to exit polling? Moments before ABC projected Walker as the winner based on actual numbers, I had been looking at numerous online stories regarding exit polls showing Walker and Barrett in a dead heat. Even with pinpoint accuracy it seems a major waste of time and money for polsters to be interviewing and extrapolating the opinions of a few voters, when they’ll have the hard data availabe mere hours later. Adding to that, apparently their exit polls are often off by 5+ percent. From an information standpoint this isn’t even helpful. From a time and money standpoint, it’s downright wasteful. Does anyone claim any sort of benefit to this sort of thing at all?

  • Matt

    Glad Walker won!

    On another note, is there any benefit to exit polling? Moments before ABC projected Walker as the winner based on actual numbers, I had been looking at numerous online stories regarding exit polls showing Walker and Barrett in a dead heat. Even with pinpoint accuracy it seems a major waste of time and money for polsters to be interviewing and extrapolating the opinions of a few voters, when they’ll have the hard data availabe mere hours later. Adding to that, apparently their exit polls are often off by 5+ percent. From an information standpoint this isn’t even helpful. From a time and money standpoint, it’s downright wasteful. Does anyone claim any sort of benefit to this sort of thing at all?

  • Bob

    Matt,

    I’m not sure about the wisdom of exit polling, either.

    Some here in Wisc. were pissed that the networks called the election while folks were still in line to vote. Oh well, it’s happened before and it will happen again.

    I think I said this earlier, but this vote wound up virtually the same as in 2010 — the same percentages with Scott Walker 54, Tom Barrett 46.

    It’s not a bellwether for the fall elections. Sorry.

    “The turnout late Tuesday was on track to roughly match the 2.16 million who voted in the 2010 race that elected Walker governor, but fall well short of the 2.98 million that gave Barack Obama a 14-point victory in the state in 2008.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/wisconsin-recall-vote_n_1572662.html

    And Cincinattus, you called this one early on. Congratulations. It’s making me rethink the value of recalls.

  • Bob

    Matt,

    I’m not sure about the wisdom of exit polling, either.

    Some here in Wisc. were pissed that the networks called the election while folks were still in line to vote. Oh well, it’s happened before and it will happen again.

    I think I said this earlier, but this vote wound up virtually the same as in 2010 — the same percentages with Scott Walker 54, Tom Barrett 46.

    It’s not a bellwether for the fall elections. Sorry.

    “The turnout late Tuesday was on track to roughly match the 2.16 million who voted in the 2010 race that elected Walker governor, but fall well short of the 2.98 million that gave Barack Obama a 14-point victory in the state in 2008.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/wisconsin-recall-vote_n_1572662.html

    And Cincinattus, you called this one early on. Congratulations. It’s making me rethink the value of recalls.

  • DonS

    Matt @ 31: Exit polls are not intended to be used to predict election results. They cannot accurately do that, because the demographics of voter turnout vary by time of day, and also from election to election. Also, with mail-in ballots comprising an ever-increasing proportion of total ballots, it is increasingly the case that the election day turnout is substantially different than overall turnout.

    The purpose of exit polls is research. They are to be analyzed after the fact, to understand the voter turnout in a particular election and why they may have voted as they did. Any media outlet (practically all of them) which uses them to predict election results is merely seeking attention. Ignore them.

  • DonS

    Matt @ 31: Exit polls are not intended to be used to predict election results. They cannot accurately do that, because the demographics of voter turnout vary by time of day, and also from election to election. Also, with mail-in ballots comprising an ever-increasing proportion of total ballots, it is increasingly the case that the election day turnout is substantially different than overall turnout.

    The purpose of exit polls is research. They are to be analyzed after the fact, to understand the voter turnout in a particular election and why they may have voted as they did. Any media outlet (practically all of them) which uses them to predict election results is merely seeking attention. Ignore them.

  • Carl Vehse

    Given the existing union or racist thuggery in Wisconsin (and elsewhere), exiting voters may not tell pollsters how they actually voted.

  • Carl Vehse

    Given the existing union or racist thuggery in Wisconsin (and elsewhere), exiting voters may not tell pollsters how they actually voted.

  • Tom Hering

    What the heck was going on with all the polls that they were so far off?

    Actually, all the polls since October – except for two – showed Walker winning. And the last five polls (since May 23) showed Walker winning 54/42, 50/47, 53/47, 52/45, 54/42. Not too far off.

    So, congragulations to Governor Scott Walker. And to Senator John Lehman (D) for retaking the Senate – or so it seems (and maybe not for long).

  • Tom Hering

    What the heck was going on with all the polls that they were so far off?

    Actually, all the polls since October – except for two – showed Walker winning. And the last five polls (since May 23) showed Walker winning 54/42, 50/47, 53/47, 52/45, 54/42. Not too far off.

    So, congragulations to Governor Scott Walker. And to Senator John Lehman (D) for retaking the Senate – or so it seems (and maybe not for long).

  • Tom Hering

    Uh, that was supposed to be “congratulations” not “congragulations.”

  • Tom Hering

    Uh, that was supposed to be “congratulations” not “congragulations.”

  • WebMonk

    Thanks Tom. Being far from the action, most of the stories I was running across were giving a 51-48 sort of win for Walker.

  • WebMonk

    Thanks Tom. Being far from the action, most of the stories I was running across were giving a 51-48 sort of win for Walker.

  • Tom Hering

    Bob @ 32, recalls are a needed remedy. But I think the message yesterday was that they should only be used as a remedy for criminal behavior. A lot of Wisconsinites voted in this recall against the recall itself – what they really believed was a wrong use of the recall process.

  • Tom Hering

    Bob @ 32, recalls are a needed remedy. But I think the message yesterday was that they should only be used as a remedy for criminal behavior. A lot of Wisconsinites voted in this recall against the recall itself – what they really believed was a wrong use of the recall process.

  • Bob

    Tom,

    Thanks for your perspective.

    I do think that fairness was a big reason this recall failed. As you said, they should be reserved for criminal behavior.

    Not to mention that Barrett wasn’t a real strong candidate. Not to mention he was outspent 7-1, depending on who you read. Not to mention Walker had $20 million that he spent from day one to keep his cause going. He’s a very savvy politician, gotta hand him that.

    I was happy to see that the Guv wants to move Wisconsin forward together. That makes me glad.

  • Bob

    Tom,

    Thanks for your perspective.

    I do think that fairness was a big reason this recall failed. As you said, they should be reserved for criminal behavior.

    Not to mention that Barrett wasn’t a real strong candidate. Not to mention he was outspent 7-1, depending on who you read. Not to mention Walker had $20 million that he spent from day one to keep his cause going. He’s a very savvy politician, gotta hand him that.

    I was happy to see that the Guv wants to move Wisconsin forward together. That makes me glad.


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