Despite a major effort by Democrats and organized labor, Gov. Scott Walker coasted to an easy win in a recall election Tuesday in Wisconsin, as Democrats were able to only win a small moral victory in the Wisconsin State Senate.
Even before the results were final, both parties were spinning the outcome from Washington, D.C., as Republicans said it gave them momentum for November and Democrats said the defeat didn’t matter one bit.
Speaker John Boehner called Walker’s win a “victory for taxpayers” and “supporters of smaller, more accountable” government.
“Walker pitched a landslide shutout,” said Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican.
“Gov. Walker has shown that citizens and taxpayers can fight back — and prevail — against the runaway government costs imposed by labor bosses,” said Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney in a statement.
Democrats meanwhile furiously rejected any assertions that the win for Republicans in Wisconsin would have any bearing on the November race for the White House, noting that exit polling from the Badger State actually showed President Obama with a strong lead over Romney of seven points.
Does that mean Mr. Obama will win by 7 points in November in the Badger State? Republicans think they are much closer than those numbers – and have five months to prove it.
One thing this latest recall test proved in Wisconsin was that Republicans have a very effective get out the vote operation now in that state, and it showed in areas like Brown County, home to Green Bay.
In the 2010 elections, Walker carried Brown County over Democrat Tom Barrett by a 56-43% margin; last night, the Governor pushed that to a 60-40% edge, squeezing out 9,000 more votes than in his original election.
This latest Wisconsin vote also again showcased the edge that Republicans have in campaign spending, as Walker and groups allied with the GOP Governor outspent Democrats by an estimated margin of as much as 8:1.
Big Labor had hoped to be able to eat into that edge and provide an old time organizational lift for Barrett, but it didn’t happen – as this represented yet another election upper cut to the jaw of labor unions.
What lesson should we draw for November? Maybe the more important question will be what lessons will the two parties take away from this – and how will they change their approach in five months?
At the state level, Republicans held three of four recalls for state Senate, but were behind in a fourth – that technically would give Democrats the advantage in the state Senate – but since the legislature isn’t supposed to meet again until after elections in November, it doesn’t make that much of a difference right now.