Today over two million Wisconsinites are expected to head to the polls to forever alter the course of their ship of state. And by forever, I mean until 5 months from now, when the state legislature will be up for re-election. Polls close at 8pm Central Time, which means that if the race is close, we'll know the results by sometime in November, when Waukesha County finally reports. In the mean time, here's what you need to know…
What do the latest polls say?
All polls show Walker ahead. The latest Public Policy Polling survey has Walker up over Tom Barrett 50-47%. That lead is down from 50-45% in a PPP poll conducted three weeks ago and it's also down from a 52-45 lead that Walker posted in a Marquette Law poll released last week, but it's at odds with another recent survey, conducted by We Ask America, that has Walker leading by 12%.
Just how full of shit are Democrats when they claim turnout will make up for their lagging survey numbers?
In their defense, a lot will depend on the makeup of the electorate. When Democrats won statewide in 2006 and 2008, self-identified conservatives made up only 30% of those who showed up. In 2010, when Republicans swept the state, self-identified conservatives made up 37% of the vote. If Democrats can increase turnout among minorities and young people, they have a shot.
On the other hand, "it will all come down to turnout" are usually the famous last words spoken by the party before they're melodramatically quoting the end of Gatsby — "tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther" and maybe not lose quite so badly in the Milwaukee suburbs.
On the bright side for liberals, future generations of Democrats will not have have to read about this potentially painful defeat, since budget cuts will have eliminated schoolbooks and English teachers.
How did this recall process start?
With over 900,000 petitions signed by Wisconsin residents who were upset that Walker decided to bring a little bit of the Middle East to the Midwest, as he successfully championed legislation to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights. Recently however, focus has shifted away from union rights and toward Walker's jobs record, which is one reason the White House has stayed away at tweet's length ("It's Election Day in Wisconsin tomorrow, and I'm standing by Tom Barrett. He'd make an outstanding governor. -bo").
What does the economic focus of the recall election have to do with President Obama's profile in courage?
Much of the Democratic narrative depends on the claim that Walker has failed to restart Wisconsin's economy. Lots of photo-ops in front of rusting cheese mongeries (I may have a stereotyped impression of Wisconsin's economy). The Obama campaign narrative is attached to a story of economic recovery. If nothing else, it's awkward.
Anything else awkward about the Wisconsin recall?
1. The nagging feeling that maybe conservatives deserve to win in Wisconsin, because hey, they paid good money for it. Walker has out-raised Barrett $30.5 million to $4 million. Outside groups are spending another $65 million, mostly in support of Walker.
2. The fact that Walker's slogan, Forward, is also Obama's.
3. Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch also faces recall. Her opponent is Democrat Mahlon Mitchell, a firefighter and union leader with no previous political experience. It's possible, though no one is predicting this, for Walker to win and Kleefisch to lose. Awkward.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: Polls, Recall, Scott Walker, Tom Barrett, Wisconsin