Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Super June 5, 2012: Recall in Wisconsin, five presidential primaries, and American democracy in action


We're not going to be live-blogging tonight's rather significant election results -- notably the recall vote in Wisconsin, five presidential primaries (including California and New Jersey, with just one state left after today), and a pile of congressional primaries -- but Richard and I are going to comment throughout the evening, updating this post fairly frequently.

In Wisconsin, exit polls are showing a close race, so close in fact that there may be a recount, with the process dragged out for an extended period, but I think it's pretty clear Gov. Walker will survive. Polls had him up by 3-6 points, and I suspect that's where it'll land. Richard will delve into why this may be, and a lot of it has to do with simple exhaustion after a year of this.

And, I must say, while I detest Walker and have opposed him vigorously, particularly on his assault on unions, I do not generally support the recall of elected officials and do not necessarily think he should be removed from office at this time. That may put me in opposition to many on the left, but recall is actually a right-wing tool to mobilize knee-jerk populism against duly elected democratic representatives. And like him or not, Walker was elected by the people of Wisconsin. If you don't like him, fine, I'm with you, but the appropriate democratic response is not to seek his recall but to work to vote him out of office at the next general election. Which is to say, Walker's opponents will have the opportunity to vote against him in 2014. That may not be soon enough, but that's the way the system works. Sometimes your "enemies" get elected. Sometimes, often, they do things you don't like, even deeply unpopular things. It goes both ways. Deal with it.

This is not to say I wouldn't be happy if Walker were to lose this vote today. I would be, in a way, and I think it would be a good thing for Wisconsin. But the bigger issue here is about the democratic system -- and not about removing Walker from office. And on that level I'm against recall. And those who embrace it now should remember that it can go the other way as well, and that it's a weapon Republicans will not hesitate to use, just as they use impeachment and the filibuster for partisan purposes.

And while Walker may indeed survive today, he and his fellow Wisconsin Republicans did an awful lot of damage to themselves with their assault on unions. It may not be the political suicide I suggested a year ago, but they have mobilized a powerful force against them. It may not be enough today, but it could very well be enough in November, particularly if President Obama is able to prevail in Wisconsin and to benefit from labor support in other tight swing states.

Anyway, Richard wrote about this today as well, and we're pretty much in agreement about both Walker and recall. Before I hand this over to him, I encourage you to check out his posts:



Just tuning in to CNN, which is reporting that exit polls are showing a tie between Walker and Barrett at 50% to 50%. If this is right, that means the recent polling is off by a fair bit. The average of those polls is around 6-7% in favour of Walker.

Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, is being interviewed by Wolf Blitzer, and he looks worried. It's going to be a long night.

Wow, John King is announcing CNN's exit polls on the presidential race. Obama is up significantly, 54% to 42%. Average of recent polls only had Obama up by 6%. I'd have to think that a 12% lead for Obama signals some movement in Barrett's direction. 



Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said his campaign is contacting Wisconsin residents to counter reports of a robo-call that says anyone who signed a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker doesn't have to vote in Tuesday's election.

Barrett, the Democrat challenging the Republican governor, said he has recorded a robo-call of his own telling people that signing a petition wasn't enough and that they do have to cast a ballot, WisPolitics.com reported. There have been a number of reports of Wisconsin residents receiving calls saying that their signature on the recall petition counts as their vote.

Republican dirty tricks? No! Never! (They never do such things, right? Vote suppression isn't a cornerstone of their electoral strategy, right?)

More here.

Oh, in case you were wondering, Mitt -- who is now running unopposed -- has won New Jersey. No need for dirty tricks on the part of his bullying buddy Chris Christie.



A few pundits are saying that if Barrett ends up losing by a small margin, there may be some unhappiness with President Obama for not helping out enough. It's the kind of thing that may not matter in any material sense, but it would be fair comment.

Excuse me for being annoyed, but Wisconsin is one of the biggest political stories of the year, and CNN is sharing airtime with coverage of the Queen. Give me a break! Over to MSNBC for me.

At the moment, 16% of polls are reporting and Walker has a healthy lead: 60% to 39%. The problem with trying to make sense of this is that we don't know where these polls are and what has yet to report. John King needs to get on the map and tell us what's going on.

As of 9:45 eastern time, CNN has just updated their exit poll to indicate Walker ahead by a 52% to 48% margin. Who knows? Oh, back to the Jubilee.

There you go. NBC is now calling it for Walker. Well, that wasn't that close at all. Were the exit polls off by that much?

The fact that Obama did well in exit polling tells me that a lot of people are either tired of the recall exercise or don't think it's right to turf Walker after he won a general election.

No doubt Walker will be a bigger star for the GOP, though I am not certain this was a referendum on a conservative agenda. But a win is a win and bragging rights come with it.

Money will be a big part of the story. No doubt about that. There is also no doubt that this result will put Wisconsin in play in November.

That's it for me. Will I be able to survive a full day of conservative gloating tomorrow? I'm not sure.

Good night. 



One question will be, should Obama have done more -- or, really, just something, anything -- to help the anti-Walker campaign?

I say no. First, he would have been accused of meddling in a state matter.

Second, it's not clear that his involvement would have helped matters. Could he have swayed a few independents? Yes, possibly, but it's unlikely he could have done enough to tip the balance. Actually, given that Walker has survived by a wide margin, wider than the polls were indicated, there's no way he would have been able to.

Third, following on the above, a Walker win would have been spun by Republicans as an Obama loss. Even if he never could have done enough to tip the balance, his involvement would have been seen as a personal failure, proof of his electoral weakness.

Fourth, Walker's win might actually help Obama and Democrats generally in Wisconsin in November, as they'll be able to run against the governor's (and Republicans' generally) extremism. Plus, it's likely that the Democratic base will come out of this recall election energized for a win in November. (Well, that's what I'm hoping, anyway.)

Of course, Republicans will spin this as a glorious victory, and of course that will mean turning it on Obama, but I doubt this will have much impact on the rest of the national campaign. And, again, even with Walker's win tonight, Wisconsin is still Obama's to lose.

Otherwise, Romney has won California! Hardly a surprise given that he has a car elevator there -- and, again, that he's running unopposed.

The other three states voting today, along with Cali and Jersey, were Montana, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Yes, Romney won all three. But what a nice job by Santorum pulling in 12% in SD and 10% in NM. The dream lives.

There were some high-profile Congressional primaries today. We'll get to those in the days to come. For now, that's it for us.

Good night, everyone.

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