Does the Wisconsin vote matter?

The American Future Fund put together a very funny video that shows Progressives before and after the Wisconsin election.  Before, defeat meant an imminent apocalypse; after, defeat meant . . . nothing:

You can’t blame the Progressives for their differing before and after statements. With the November 2012 election coming up, one could argue that circumstances forced them to take both positions.

But we here at the Bookworm Room aren’t Progressives, and we’re not trying to induce people to vote one way or another.  Perhaps, then, we can come to a consensus about the implications of Walker’s victory in Wisconsin.

I’m too lazy right now to hunt up links, so I’m going to make factual statements that I’m 99% certain are accurate.  You can accept them as true, or you can call me on my errors.  This also isn’t a carefully framed essay.  Instead, I’m just throwing out ideas.

1.  Here’s a fact I know for certain, because I was there when it happened: I heard a pro-Obama liberal say, “Oh, my God!  This is a disaster.”  When I asked why, she said, “Because I wanted Obama to win in November, and this means he won’t.”  The media and White House may be spinning, but at least one (wo)man on the street thinks that the Wisconsin election, rather than being an anomaly, is a harbinger of things to come.

2.  Many have commented on the disparity between exit polls and votes.  I’m not ready to draw a conclusion from those discrepancies.  Roger Simon suggests a Bradley effect, one that sees political ideology, not racial views, as the opinion people are trying to hide during face-to-face interviews.  If he’s right, the polls in this election season just became meaningless, and all bets are off for November.  DQ, however, had a good point, which is that, until we know how many absentee ballots were cast in Wisconsin, we can’t know how anomalous the poll results really were.  Here in Marin, for example, up to 60% of voters do so by absentee ballot.  With only 40% of voters showing up at the polling places, and the pollsters only catching a small fraction of those, there’s going to be a wide margin for error in any hypothetical exit polling.

3.  Some man-on-the-street interviews saw people saying, “I just don’t like the recall idea.”  Maybe that’s true.  Or maybe people are lying about their motives for voting conservative in order to hide their resurgent conservative identity.  In any event, a couple of interviews does not a statistical sample make.  What’s of some significance is the fact that Scott Walker is the only governor to survive a recall vote.  In other words, in other places and other elections, people weren’t so squeamish about kicking out a governor who was fighting a recall.

4.  Money matters — and I’m not talking about money spent on elections.  Scott Walker, in the short time available to him as governor, shifted the Wisconsin balance sheet away from a huge, even catastrophic deficit.  People who are not ideologues will vote for someone who is manifestly preserving their way of life, even if they’re voting outside of their normal party identification.

5.  The unions are in serious trouble.  It’s not just that they lost.  It’s that, when workers in Walker’s Wisconsin were given a choice to walk away from the unions, they did so — causing a 2/3 drop in union rolls.  This means that the unions are serving only the politicians and the union leaders.  The rank and file might have been getting good benefits, but they realized that good benefits are meaningless in a broke nation.  They opted for social stability, rather than being forced to turn over their money to a union that didn’t serve them well and that didn’t serve their community well.

6.  This is deeply damaging for Barack Obama.  Oh, I know that Wisconsin is just one state.  There might have been all sorts of unique Wisconsin factors at work here that, practically speaking, have no relationship to Obama and to the nation as a whole.  But this was a big Democrat push.  The unions, which are synonymous with Democrats, put their all into this.  The protests against Walker were tied closely to the Occupy movement which is, in turn, tied closely to the Democrats.  The two candidates took positions that perfectly represented the dividing lines of political thought in this country, with Walker being the principled, budget-cutting conservative, and Barrett promising the same old big-spending, pro-union Democrat governance that saw Wisconsin slowly go broke in the first place.  When the Democrat side lost, you could practically see the stench start rising from the corpse.  That stench is going to stick to Democrats nationwide and, naturally, it’s going to stick hardest to the top Democrat.  It’s not the nail in the Obama re-election coffin, but it’s certain equal to a handful of nails, and joins other painful moments, ranging from big failures, such as the dismal job reports, worldwide economic collapse, and the scary despotism of the Arab Spring that Obama helped usher in, to small failures, such as the dog wars, the mommy wars, the bullying wars, etc.  Obama is looking like a very weak horse indeed, and in unstable times, that’s the last person the voters want shepherding their nation.

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  • Danny Lemieux

    I agree, this was a bfd.

    My voices from Wisconsin point out the following:

    1) Walker’s true margin was likely bigger by 2-3% because of massive vote fraud. There were reports the Dems were shipping busloads of “voters” to the polls, many of whom could register on-site without showing government ID.

    2) People in Wisconsin are pretty Liberal, in general, but they are also conservative in their personal finances. They saw the recall effort as a huge waste of public monies.

    3)  The overt thuggish behavior of the unions turned a lot of people against the Dems. There’s a lesson there for the Obama campaign that they will assuredly ignore.

    I believe that most people are underestimating the ripple effects that this election will have in other states. 

  • Charles Martel

    I remember the climatic moment in Chinatown when Jack Nicholson is beating an answer out of Faye Dunaway viz her true relationship with the evil John Huston character:
    Dunaway: “Anomaly!”
    Dunaway: “Harbinger!”
    Dunaway: “Anomaly!”
    Dunaway: “Harbinger!”
    Glad to see the Dems bringing back a classic shtick.

  • Mike Devx

    “Turnout is huge, very heavy, in Madison,” the election manager said.  “Almost 120% of the voters are going to vote.”

    I know our education system is a little dumbed down compared to yesteryear… but most people will recognize fraud when they see it.  The media got its act together and reported that 96% of the voters in the Madison area voted… which is still utterly and completely unbelievable.   FRAUD.   FRAUD.   FRAUD.

    Wisconsin voters will recognize how huge the factor of fraud was.  It can’t be hidden with numbers that high.  The Democrats have made a HUGE mistake in bussing in so many people from neighboring states to register to vote on Election Day (photo id not required either).  They didn’t even try to hide it.  Fair-minded Democrats will be disgusted at this “the end justifies the means” corruption.

    I think some fair-minded Democrats also stayed home due to recall fatigue.  Walker had done absolutely nothing wrong, and was delivering exactly what he promised during the campaign.  You should recall a politician only for some form of serious violation such that he no longer DESERVES to hold public office.  Simply throwing a snit fit because you lost the election is no reason to have wave after wave of recall elections, until finally, what, you get your way?  I do think some number of Democrats have become disgusted with the sideshow circus.  They may even be ashamed of it.  A vote is a vote.  Move on to the next REAL election.

    Finally, this is yet another tea leave to read:  The 2010 results really did matter.  Sometimes off year elections are anomalies, to be quickly forgotten as irrelevant.  Not this time.  Something *is* going on.

    I’m not ready to say this guarantees an Obama defeat in 2012.  Obama is going to have to fight to keep Wisconsin, a state he won easily in 2008.  Where else is he going to have to fight like hell?  Which other constituencies of his have been drained?  All that rabid enthusiasm (yes, rabid) is gone.  Reality has set in now that the Obama Dream has turned out to be a false face, a deception.

    If you fell for the Big Deception in 2008… how are you going to vote – or stay home – in 2012?



    I read Chinatown while looking at Madcow’s face and suddenly I have an urge to sing….

    Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye, Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie. When the pie was opened the birds began to sing, Oh wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king? The king was in his counting house counting out his money, The queen was in the parlour eating bread and honey The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes, When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose!     

  • Indigo Red

    The total of voters registered before Tuesday is the 100% while 120% includes the voters registering at the polls which would be 20%. Wisconsin allows same day registration, BUT NOT WITHOUT PHOTO ID. The actual act of voting doesn’t require photo ID – more’s the pity, but WI has certain requirements before a valid registration is accepted. 

    Despite two injunctions on Mar 6 and 12, 2012  preventing WI polling places from demanding photo IDs before voting, the “following constitute acceptable Proof-of-Residence if the document contains your current name and address and is valid on Election Day (unless otherwise indicated): 

    A current and valid Wisconsin driver license.
    A current and valid Wisconsin identification card.
    Any other official identification card or license issued by a Wisconsin governmental body or unit.
    Any identification card issued by an employer in the normal course of business and bearing a photo of the card holder, but not including a business card.
    A real estate tax bill or receipt for the current year or the year preceding the date of the election.
    A residential lease which is effective for a period that includes election day (NOT for first-time voters registering by mail).
    A university, college or technical institute identification card (must include photo), ONLY if the bearer provides a fee receipt dated within the last nine months or the institution provides a certified housing list to the municipal clerk.
    A gas, electric or telephone service statement (utility bill) for the period commencing not earlier than 90 days before election day.
    Bank statement.
    A check or other document issued by a unit of government.”

    The applicant must also meet the 28 consecutive day State residency requirement. Although registration can take place on voting day at a polling station, the newly registered are issued a provisional ballot which is not included in the vote total unless and until the registrant’s data is verified. 

    Voter fraud in WI seems to me to be far more difficult than it is in California where no ID whatsoever is required to register. I have registered three separate times in different locales and have done so through the mail with only my vital data and a signature. There is absolutely no evidence I am who I say I am beyond my word. And then, I vote by mail without any human to human contact that would at least prove I am a person and not a horse. Then again, a California court has ruled that animals are people, so… 


  • Libby

    I think this matters to other states, and other Republican governors in particular. It shows them that they can trust their citizens to support bolder and less popular budget measures (at least those that impact the unions).
    Walker has set a great example as a leader who can trust his citizen enough to be honest about what he will do during the campaign, and then following through with it even in the face of fleeing state senators and other shenanigans, In return, he won the support of citizens when things got really ugly. Breaks the RINO model of playing fair with the opposition and then compromising when the Dems (and the media)inevitably turn on them.

  • Ymarsakar

    Wisconsin is only one battlefield. As seen in Vietnam, you can win battles, and yet lose the war.