Tag Archives: recall

In Wisconsin, It’s Game On

Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics breaks down Wisconsin which is quickly becoming Battleground central of the 2012 election:

Is Wisconsin the new Ohio? It’s beginning to feel that way. As the presidential race hurtles toward a dramatic conclusion, both campaigns are suddenly locked in an intense battle to win the Badger State and its 10 Electoral College votes.

Polls

A new poll from Rasmussen Reports underscored just how close the contest has become here: President Obama and Mitt Romney were tied at 49 percent each in the poll of likely voters, conducted Thursday. Overall, Obama leads by just 2.3 percent in the RealClearPolitics Average in Wisconsin, down from 6.6 percent two weeks ago.

The cavalry

Obama’s campaign has moved quickly over the last week to try to shore up support in a state the president won overwhelmingly four years ago. In addition to the vice president’s visits Friday, the campaign announced that the president himself will make a campaign stop next week in Green Bay. In another sign of Democrats’ concern over the tightening race in Wisconsin, earlier this week Priorities USA, the super PAC supporting the Obama campaign, bought advertising time in five media markets for the final week of the campaign.

Meeting the challenge

The Romney camp has also mobilized more resources to the state, apparently sensing a shift in momentum. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio stumped for Romney on Thursday in the heavily Republican area of Waukesha, just west of Milwaukee. RNC Chairman and Wisconsin native Reince Priebus barnstormed the state earlier in the week, and Romney is set to hold a “victory rally” in the Milwaukee area on Monday night.

The latest firewall

Along with Ohio and Iowa, Wisconsin represents what is being termed Obama’s “Midwest Firewall.” Ohio remains the focal point, thanks to the electoral math; whichever candidate wins the Buckeye State and its 18 electoral votes has a much easier route to reach the magic number of 270. But with Wisconsin (and Iowa) very much in play, the Romney campaign senses an opportunity to break through Obama’s firewall, and with the state’s 10 electoral votes in its column the Romney brain trust can suddenly see a potential path to the White House despite losing Ohio – something that would be unprecedented for a Republican presidential candidate.

Changing map

Under normal circumstances, the idea that a GOP nominee could lose a more traditionally Republican-leaning state like Ohio but win in historically less favorable territory like Wisconsin and Iowa — states Obama carried in 2008 by 14 and 9.5 percentage points, respectively — would appear to be a long shot. But this year is far from normal. Despite having suffered a decline of roughly four points or more in several other swing states since the first debate in early October, Obama’s lead has slipped less than half of that amount in Ohio. He appears to be “defying gravity” there — in the words of NBC News’ Chuck Todd — thanks in part to his stance on the auto bailout, heavy ad spending, an intense early voting effort, and a local economy performing better than the national average. In Wisconsin, however, it appears the laws of physics still apply. Obama has lost 5.3 percent in the RealClearPolitics Average in Wisconsin since October 3, the day of the first presidential debate.

Republican game changers

[T]he Romney campaign has two additional reasons to believe it can keep the president earthbound there.

  • The first is the choice of Paul Ryan, who represents the state’s 1st Congressional District in the southeastern part of the state and hails from Janesville. Ryan’s status as favorite son, and his ability to appeal to independent voters in the state, is suddenly more important than ever.
  • Second, Republicans believe the political machine they’ve built statewide over the past few years, largely to battle the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker, will make the difference for Romney on Election Day. That machine, which the Republicans test-drove back on June 5, performed exceedingly well: Walker turned out 1.3 million voters in the recall, more than 205,000 more than he did in his 2010 victory.

Early voting

Early voting started this week in Wisconsin, and Republicans say they got off to a good start. “Republican strongholds like Waukesha and Washington counties over-performed 2008, while Democratic strongholds like Dane County under-performed,” said Rick Wiley, political director for the Republican National Committee and former executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. But given the overwhelming size of Obama’s victory in Wisconsin four years ago, Republicans could out-perform 2008 by a significant amount but still come up on the losing end, especially if Democrats are able to avoid a substantial drop-off in enthusiasm.

A Preview of Bill Clinton’s Speech Tonight?

Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel brings up the fact that Clinton spoke to the Democrat faithful in Wisconsin when Barack Obama was too busy raising money in every state around Wisconsin to stop in and fire up the troops.  Clinton gave a fiery speech excoriating Republicans for stopping the Obama agenda and Gilbert expects many of the same themes tonight:

It was only three months ago that tonight’s featured Democratic Convention speaker, former President Bill Clinton, came to Milwaukee to campaign for Tom Barrett against Gov. Scott Walker in the June 5 recall election. Clinton railed against what he termed an uncompromising Republican Party. To the degree that Clinton goes on the offensive tonight against Republicans, we could hear some echoes of his June 1 Milwaukee speech at Pere Marquette Park.

At that rally, Clinton presented himself as an expert of sorts on the ingredients for national prosperity, saying, “I think I know a little bit about what would bring America back, what would bring economic recovery.” Clinton said a lot of communities have already come back economically, and they “all have one thing in common: they are involved in creative cooperation, not constant conflict.”

He framed the campaign as a debate between people “who want to work together to solve problems and people who want to divide and conquer.” “Everywhere I go in America, everywhere I go in the world, the only thing that’s working is when you get everybody who’s got a stake in the game in there and treat them with respect and people go forward together. That’s how you get out of a ditch. You get out of a ditch when people stand on each other’s shoulders, and somebody gets to the top and reaches down and pulls everybody up.”

Clinton argued that today’s GOP represents the antithesis of that spirit. He talked about how prominently Republicans had figured in the Wisconsin Progressive tradition, saying, “That’s gone now.”   Clinton extolled the notion of “an economy of shared prosperity when times are good and shared sacrifice when times are not.”

He said Wisconsin had voted for him against incumbent Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992 even though — he said — it was one of “only two” states that was better off economically than four years earlier. “Nonetheless you understood in the long run we had to build a nation of shared prosperity, shared responsibility, one nation, undivided.  When a child in Wisconsin says the Pledge of Allegiance, it is a rebuke to the far right, winner-take-all, take-no-prisoners, divide-and-conquer, constant-conflict philosophy of government.”

At the beginning of his speech, Clinton told the crowd, “The great thing about not being president is you can say whatever you want. Nobody has to care any more, but you can say it.”

Wisconsin: Battleground or Not?

I was an early adopter of Wisconsin being a prime battleground in 2012. The 2010 success statewide coupled with an expected Scott Walker recall victory led me to believe there would be incredible momentum heading into November for the eventual GOP nominee. Unfortunately while most of the premises held true any subsequent momentum seems to be lacking. Romney may still win Wisconsin, but it may need to be part of a bigger wave nationally than I originally thought he’d need.  The dean of Wisconsin politics, Craig Gilbert, take a look at the current Wisconsin landscape:

Neither the Obama nor Romney campaign is running broadcast television ads here. Why have the presidential ad wars, raging in more than half a dozen other states since May, largely bypassed Wisconsin so far? Could it be that Wisconsin is not quite the battleground it has been in the past?

Not a Tier 1 Battleground

The campaigns’ TV buys show that Wisconsin, where President Obama leads in the polls, currently ranks behind seven or eight other states in competitiveness — among them Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and New Hampshire. Romney himself told the Toledo Blade recently that “there are just many places we can’t afford to be running ads,” because much of the money his campaign has been raising this summer can’t be spent by law until after the national convention. Democratic pollster Paul Maslin said Wisconsin is “not at the level of Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, Florida” as an electoral target right now. “It’s in the next batch.”

Follow the money

In the end, what the campaigns, the parties and the big-spending outside groups do with their advertising buys in the coming weeks and months will answer the question of how competitive they believe Wisconsin is in 2012. As Tad Devine, strategist for the 2004 Kerry for President campaign, said during that race, “If you want to understand the strategic intent of a presidential campaign, look at what they do with their media buy.” That’s the “tell.”

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Mapping the Reddest and Bluest Parts of Wiscosin

The incomparable Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel shows the parts of Wisconsin where opposing candidates fear to tread based on ward-by-ward results in the June gubernatorial recall vote:

The “reddest” place in Wisconsin last month was the affluent village of Chenequa in the lake country of suburban Waukesha County, where 316 people voted for Republican Scott Walker and only 30 voted for Democratic Tom Barrett, a margin of more than 10-to-1. The “bluest” place in Wisconsin last month was the far northern town of Sanborn in Ashland County, home to several hundred members of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa, where 389 people voted for Barrett and only 48 voted for Walker, a margin of almost 9-to-1.

About 18% of the Wisconsin electorate June 5 lived in a village, city or town where Gov. Walker won at least 70% of the vote. About 14% lived in a village, city or town where Barrett won at least 70% of the vote. In other words, these landslide communities, where 40 points or more separated the two parties in the recall fight, are home to about a third of Wisconsin’s voters.

By and large, the state’s reddest and bluest areas are geographically distinct and somewhat distant from each other. But there are places where red and blue communities sit almost side by side. The northwest corner of the city of Milwaukee, Ward One, brushes up against the southeast corner of Washington County and the village of Germantown. Barrett won Milwaukee’s first ward by 55 points. Walker won Germantown by 49 points. In the Pepin County village of Stockholm, a picturesque Mississippi River getaway along the Minnesota border, Barrett won 77% of the vote, while losing the county as a whole by 20 points. The city of Appleton can boast landslide wards for both parties.

The single most Republican ward in the state was Appleton’s 41st, an annexed area on the northern edge of the city that Walker carried by 86 percentage points (79 votes to six). But also in the city of Appleton is Ward Eight, which Barrett carried by 55 points. The Republican ward is home to an upscale residential development. The Democratic ward is home to Lawrence University, one of the few college campuses that was still in regular session on the day of the June 5 election.

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Quick Hits

President Obama, Mitt Romney and other federal candidates can immediately start collecting contributions through text messaging services.

A new initiative called “I Vote Israel” is encouraging Americans living in Israel (Jews and non-Jews) to register and vote absentee.

Obama heads to Michigan this week — events are planned statewide through Friday.

Virginia Senator Mark Warner disagrees with Obama, says private sector not doing fine.

Obama tells Wisconsin TV station he was too busy to march with unions in the Wisconsin recall — no follow-up question about the 6 fundraisers next door.

Speaking of Wisconsin, apparently it was a win for Democrats according to DNC Chairman Howard Dean…no, really.

Obama to take another stab at the state of the economy in a speech Thursday in Cleveland, OH — that should be fun.

Wisconsin Recall Post Mortem

Karl Rove identifies in the Wall Street Journal the comparative strength in the GOP ground game versus the braggadocios Democrat ground game. Walker won the recall because:

Democrats were out-hustled by the Republicans– Walker won with 205,509 more votes than he received 18 months ago. Walker won by 172,739 votes, up from his 2010 margin of 124,638 votes; 38% of union households voted for Mr. Walker, up a point from 2010. The Badger State now looks more like it did in 2000 and 2004, when Democrats narrowly carried it by margins of 5,708 votes and 11,384 votes, respectively. President Obama’s campaign now admits Wisconsin is a tossup.

Democrats losing the voter-registration war in the eight battleground states:

In  Florida and Iowa Democratic registrations are down from their 2010 levels. Nearly 29,000 Democrats have disappeared from the Iowa registration rolls since January 2011, while about 10,000 Republicans have been added [Rove claims Florida is also seeing increased registrations of Republicans]. In Pennsylvania, both parties have lost ground—but Democrats have lost more: there are now 176,000 fewer Democrats registered in Pennsylvania than in November 2010, while GOP registrations have dropped by 62,000. Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and North Carolina, both parties increased registrations—but Republicans added more. (All registration numbers come from state websites.)

Bottom line: “To beat Mr. Obama, Republicans must duplicate the ground game deployed by the GOP in Wisconsin that registered, persuaded and produced a massive turnout.”

Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard blog says Scott Walker is sending a message to Mitt Romney: “Go Big, and Go Bold

“In order for him to be competitive, not only in Wisconsin but in states like Wisconsin, he’s going to have to come out and show an aggressive plan to take on what we know are even bigger problems in our federal government. If he can do that, I think he can be competitive in Wisconsin.”

John McCormick at Bloomberg takes a lengthy look at the shaken Obama electoral map after Walker’s victory:

Until earlier this week, target states listed by President Barack Obama’s campaign didn’t include [Wisconsin]. In a campaign video released June 4 — the day before the recall — Obama campaign manager Jim Messina listed Wisconsin as “undecided,” along with Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Virginia. “The key for Governor Romney to be competitive enough to win is I think he’s got to lay out a clear platform — something similar to what our friend Paul Ryan has done,” Walker said.

Looky Here: Wisconsin Exit Polls Showed Romney-Obama Tied

The Dean of conservative (and liberal for that matter) election watching did what everyone else in the media was too lazy to do — applied the exit poll adjustments to the Presidential race that they did for the gubernatorial race. And look what he found:

The Wisconsin exit poll evidently reported the race for governor in the recall ballot as 50%-50%. With 92% of the vote in, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s excellent website reports the score as 54%-46% Walker. Let’s say that’s the final results: only 13% of precincts from Milwaukee County and 3% of precincts from Madison’s Dane County—the Democrats’ two reservoirs of big majorities—remain uncounted. It has been emblazoned on mainstream media that the exit poll also showed Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney in the state 51%-45%. But if you think the exit poll was 4% too Democratic—and that’s in line with exit poll discrepancies with actual vote results over the last decade, as documented by the exit poll pioneer, the late Warren Mitofsky*—that result looks more like 49%-47% Romney. Or assume the remaining Milwaukee County precincts whittle Republican Governor Scott Walker’s margin over Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to 53%-47%, which looks likely, the Obama-Romney numbers would look like 48%-48%.(emphasis added)

This is in a state that Obama carried 56%-42% in 2008. But those putative numbers also look very much like the numbers in 2000, when Al Gore carried Wisconsin 47.8%-47.6% over George W. Bush, or the numbers in 2004, when John Kerry carried Wisconsin 49.7%-49.3% over Bush.

Although Barone read the compression to 7% as the final margin for Walker’s race correctly, I’m not sure his 6% mention of the Obama exit poll lead is correct.  I saw it as 7%.  Either way, this still confirms that the grossly inaccurate exit polls — when appropriately adjusted — confirm what most of us believed: Wisconsin is a toss-up state and smack dab in the middle of the Presidential Battleground.

Quick Hits Around the Battleground

Nevada Republicans Work Around State Party — More on the lackluster state party that spawned Team Nevada even before the Ron Paul takeover

Nevada GOP political director seeks to unify Romney, Paul factions — New state head from Utah looking for reconciliation between warring factions within the party

Obama holds onto lead in Pennsylvania — New Franklin & Marshall poll shows Obama with a 12 point lead but support is still below 50% for the President

Colorado ballot measure on marijuana to impact Presidential contest — Both candidates oppose legalization but in a close race, perception for or against one candidate can tip the scales

Ohio Senator Rob Portman and Potential Romney VP Meets Netanyahu, Barak in Israel — Note this is the type of trip Joe Biden took to Russia before getting the nod from Obama

Obama outraised Romney in Virginia in April — Neither candidates total is all that much but it is noteworthy

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, another Potential VP, See Boost for Romney in Wisconsin — McDonnell was on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” talking up the Wisconsin results

Wisconsin now tougher for Obama, but still uphill climb for Romney — 12 hours later the reality settles in that Democrat spin on misleading exit polling doesn’t hold up

Walker Recall as Proxy for November

We’ve written many times about the difficulties extrapolating too much between the Wisconsin recall election and the race in November between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Quite possibly the primary unknown for the recall was who is going to show up on election day? Will it be the Wisconsin of 2008 that voted for Obama by +14 points or will it be the Wisconsin of 2010 that voted in Governor Walker and an overwhelming Republican legislature? Republicans want a repeat of 2010 and Democrats obviously would like to see a repeat of 2008.

Looking at the Walker percentages across demographic groups, yesterday’s recall was an almost perfect repeat of his 2010 performance:

According to quite possibly the best source for coverage of Wisconsin, Craig Gilbert in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

This was a volatile conflict but not a volatile electorate…Tuesday’s electorate in many ways resembled the one that propelled Walker to victory 19 months ago. It was slightly less conservative [but] like 2010, it contained nearly even numbers of Democrats and Republicans.

So if Republicans looking to flip Wisconsin into the Romney column were hoping to recreate the 2010 Republican wave, yesterday’s turnout was a strong piece of evidence in their favor.

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Wisconsin Mega Post: Why Wisconsin Matters (Keep scrolling)

Considering the entire American political world is watching Wisconsin today, it would be silly to either blog every interesting article on the state today or ignore the state since we’ve discussed at length how the Presidential impact is nebulous at this juncture.  Instead, I will venture to micro-blog various noteworthy pieces and update this post throughout the day.

One of my favorite bloggers, Jay Cost, kicks things off properly with a “must read” explanation of why Wisconsin is so important:

There have been, and still are, public benefits to unionism. Trade unions remain a way for master craftsmen to protect their skills from cut-rate competitors, and offer customers a credible guarantee that the job will be top-notch. Industrial unions are now an outdated mode of employer-employee relations, but they were once a way for the working class to renegotiate their share of the national surplus during the industrial revolution, and they contributed to the middle class that emerged in the postwar era. But what about government unions? It’s hard to argue that there was ever a compelling social need for them.

They are partially responsible for the Democratic party’s lurch to the left. The old craft and industrial unions had a stake in the private economy: the faster it grew, the more workers were needed, and the more money everybody made. However, that is not how public sector unionism works at all. In fact, the interest of the public sector unions is not in growing the private economy, but of socializing an ever-greater portion of the national wealth.

Today’s Democrats protect and expand government unions whenever and wherever they are able – by fighting efforts to trim collective bargaining rights, by opposing school choice, by resisting efforts to make the government function more efficiently, etc.  So, if it seems to you that, during your lifetime, the Democratic party has gone from being the party that utilized government to help the little guy, to just being the party of government, the rising influence of government unions is a big piece of the puzzle.

In many respects, labor unions are an artifact of an age long gone, and they remain in existence today due in part to the political needs of the Democratic party. Republicans are thus bound to have a tense relationship with them, but the GOP is obliged to step in – as Governor Walker has – when the unions are behaving in a way that runs contrary to the public interest. Here’s hoping that Walker is vindicated today, and that Republican leaders around the country have the courage to follow his lead.

Elspeth Reeve of The Atlantic Wire breaks down the Wisconsin numbers you need to know:

  • 60 percent to 65 percent: The expected turnout Tuesday, high for a special election.
  • 26: Number of Republican offices around the state dedicated to helping Walker survive the recall that will start working for Romney the day after the election, the Associated Press’ Thomas Beaumont reports.
  • 0: Percentage of those ads aired by Obama or Romney.
  • 0: Number of visits Obama has made in support of Walker’s challenger, Tom Barrett.

Rick Moran looks at 5 Reasons Why Labor Has Already Lost the Wisconsin Recall Election:

  1. Voters have moved on from the controversy over collective bargaining reform, which was the cause of the recall effort
  2. The public supports Walker’s efforts 50 – 43 to reform public employee collective bargaining.
  3. The national Democratic Party’s lukewarm support for the recall.
  4. Where’s Obama?
  5. The pension bomb has already defeated unions

Mickey Kaus points out an incredible sign Democrats “know” this race is lost:

As far as I can tell–and I watched it twice–the CBS Evening News did not bury it’s story on tomorrow’s crucial election. They didn’t run it at all. Nothing. Zip. And they say the liberal MSM is downplaying the recall in anticipation of a likely Walker victory.

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The Battle for Wisconsin

Wisconsin, Wisconsin, Wisconsin — Easily the most important state for the next 36 hours as we near the end of the near-permanent recall campaign ever since Governor Scott Walker fixed the state’s budget and economic woes.  The always insightful Jeff Zeleny picks up on the Wisconsin-specific changes in Presidential campaigning thanks to the expected success of Republicans in the recall elections:

A Republican resurgence here, which has burst into full view as the party determinedly defends its sitting governor in a rare recall election, is spilling into the presidential race. A Republican victory here could set off a wave of adjustments in the lineup of swing states. Even before the outcome of Tuesday’s vote is known, Democrats are warning that Wisconsin is far from a surefire win in November. “We are tremendously polarized,” Mike Tate, the Wisconsin Democratic chairman, said in an interview on Sunday. “We’re going to remain a very competitive state heading into the fall.” … “I think it will be hard for Obama to get re-elected,” said [Obama supporter Laurie] Gilson, who works at Shopko, a discount store. “I hope he gets back in, but the economy is in the toilet and too many people don’t want him around anymore.”

What makes Wisconsin unusually important?

President Obama holds multiple paths to re-election, with a handful of battleground states being able to slip away without leading to his defeat. But each possible outcome on his campaign map has always shared a common trait: winning Wisconsin.

Enter the Romney campaign:

Romney is within striking distance of Mr. Obama in Wisconsin, according to several public and private polls and interviews with strategists in both parties, and he intends to start building a campaign operation off the robust get-out-the-vote machinery assembled for Mr. Walker. The decision by the Romney campaign to try to contest Wisconsin is the first sign that Republicans are eager to expand their targets of opportunity and compete on terrain that not long ago seemed squarely on Mr. Obama’s side.

White House distances itself from the recall:

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How Much Does the Wisconsin Recall Matter for November?

I’ve discussed this previously and it’s unquestionably the most intriguing question remaining in this Pickett’s Charge of a recall effort — Walker is going to win easily as are likely his down-ticket allies — But what of any implications are there in November for the Presidential contest? I’ve thought from the beginning that this recall would be a bellwether for the national campaign. Unfortunately, naggingly persistent split polling argues otherwise. Today brings two such pieces of evidence.

First, CBS News discusses “Why Wisconsin’s recall election matters to Obama and Romney” with smart quotes from non-partisans:

“The Wisconsin recall is what the Spanish Civil War was to World War II,” Mordecai Lee, a governmental affairs professor at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, told Hotsheet. Lee said the state is “a warm up, a testing ground” for the presidential race. “This state is up for grabs in the recall election and it’s up for grabs this fall,” said Mike McCabe, Executive Director of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks political spending in elections.

Each side then argues why the recall will help them in November:

  • Republican Party officials believe that a win by Walker would leave Democrats deflated, making it difficult for them to get excited for the general election.
  • [DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Shultz argues the recall] has given the Obama for America operation an opportunity to do… the dry run that we need of our massive, significant, dynamic grassroots presidential campaign, which can’t really be matched by the Romney campaign

So far so good, but:

Most recent polls suggest that Walker enters the final week of the race with a slight lead. While the polls in the state also suggest that Mr. Obama has a small advantage over Mitt Romney.

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