Tuesday, June 5, 2012

On Wisconsin

(Yes, I know that you’re going to see hundreds of variations of the post title today and tomorrow, if you haven’t already. What the hell. It’s only a pun if you’re a college football fan.)

So this is it; the recall election in Wisconsin. Polls are all over the place; some have Scott Walker ahead of Democrat Tom Barrett by five, some show the race narrowing to within the margin of error, and so we’re left with the tired but tried and true cliche of it all coming down to turn-out. Given that Scott Walkers backers, i.e. the Koch brothers and a lot of other outside forces, have outspent the Barrett campaign by like seven to one, it’s pretty amazing that it is this close. If it had been a one-to-one race, Barrett would probably be way ahead.

Throughout the recall race, the White House has stayed on the sidelines, resisting the calls from the state party to get involved and send the president to campaign for Tom Barrett. My hunch is that the president, while supporting Barrett, does not want to spend political capital on what was perceived as a losing proposition. If Mr. Obama had gone in on the race and then Walker won, it would have been seen by the Villagers and the rest of the cool kids at the pundit table as a really bad sign for the fall election. A Barrett win would shine nicely on the local organization as pulling off a win against terrific odds, and you can bet the White House will be first in line to congratulate them if they win. But they’re not going to goaded into the fight if it looks like a loss would be worse for them than it would be for the Wisconsin Democrats.

I’m going to stick with my earlier call and say that Walker wins by a narrow margin and the Republicans will be insufferable about this particular race until they find some other shiny object to annoy us with. And Mr. Walker is still under investigation for corruption, so the recall election — even if he wins it — could be just the start of his demise.