The Wisconsin recall vote: What should we expect?

Jun 05, 2012

The Fix's Aaron Blake chats with readers Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET about Tuesday's attempt to recall Gov. Scott Walker (R).

Submit questions and opinions for Blake to respond to now.

Hey everyone, and welcome to out live chat on the Wisconsin recall election today. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is the favorite, but nobody is declaring the race over just yet.

What's on your mind? What do you want to know more about today?

If Walker loses, what do you think the reasons will be?

The primary message (and one we're seeing in Europe) would be that austerity is unpopular. We've seen a number of governors make tough budget-cutting decisions, irritating certain elements (often unions) and paying a price with their approval numbers. Walker would be paying with his job.

Second, if he loses, it will also be some vindication for unions, who have been fighting this battle for a year and a half now. And it will be proof that they can still turn out voters.

Overall, though, the result is likely to be much different than it was in 2010, when Walker won by a few points. And given that the environment isn't as GOP-friendly, maybe it would just be a natural rolling back (slightly) of the GOP wave in 2010.

As I can see from your colleague's article, the left has already starting talking about how regardless of the outcome, this is a moral victory for the left. No one actually believes this right? When you base your whole campaign around a single issue, and it turns out the public doesn't care nearly as much as you guessed, its a massive failure. I expect that if the left loses today as expected, then we have a new superstar in Walker and the left may have to address the point that Unions are not nearly the selling point they used to be.

Moral victories are for people who didn't win. And it's hard to see how Democrats come away happy if they don't win. After all, this is a swing state and Walker won a narrow race last time.

This would also be the third straight time that labor failed to win in a race that they saw as sending a message (first, the state Supreme Court race and then the state Senate recalls last year).

You bring up a good point about whether Walker will become the next big thing, and it's quite possible that Republicans would rally around him. But he is still a very polarizing figure, and national Republicans know that. So I wouldn't expect them to push him too hard (at least right away) on the national stage.

If Scott Walker wins won't all Republican Governors try to do the same thing because if the unions get crushed here conventional wisdom says it will work elsewhere? If they are able to do that won't the Democratic Party will be severely hurt and wasn't that really the point of Walker's doing this to begin with?

I'm not sure that Republican governors will see this as a clear mandate for the kind of policies Walker pursued. Walker still had a MAJOR headache on his hands because he rolled back collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions, and it doesn't appear at this point that he's going to win overwhelmingly (if he wins at all).

It may give them a little more confidence in their budget-cutting maneuvers, but I'm not sure it changes the game that much.

The suspense is too much. Any exit polling to give us an early idea of where it's going?

It's way too early for exit polling that would tell us anything instructive. Polls have only been open a few hours after all!

Do you think democrats have a decent shot at taking the state senate?

Yes, they do. This could be their consolation prize. After failing to win the state Senate in last year's recalls, they've initiated recalls against four GOP senators. Two of them -- state Sens. Moulton and Wanggard -- appear to be the most likely to lose. And if Democrats can re-take the Senate, the GOP no longer has total control over state government.

How is the turn out in Wisconsin at the moment look like and are the Milwaukee and Madison areas coming out in heavy numbers since that is crucial to any Walker Recall effort being successful.

We are expecting big turnout everywhere,  but it's too early to tell whether the Democratic areas are turning out big for Barrett.

One of the interesting things about this race has been how all-consuming it has been for the state. Everyone is aware of what's going on, almost everyone is firmly on one side or another, and now it's all about who gets their voters to the polls (to be a little cliche). There were very few undecideds in late polling of the race.

This just seems like a stupid idea to begin with. You elected someone for X number of years, let them serve their term. Could you imagine if the president could be recalled merely by getting a certain number of Signatures? Obama and GW Bush would be going through elections every year.

The thing about recalls is that it's not just a normal number of signatures; it's A LOT of them. Democrats collected more than 1 million in a state with under 6 million people.

If you translate that to the national level, a recall effort would require tens of millions of signatures just to put the race on the ballot. That's a huge effort.

Considering that Wisconsin has gone from a $3 billion deficit to a budget surplus, isn't it fair to say that the changes brought about by the Wisc. Republicans have improved the state's financial situation?

That's certainly the case Walker has been making. His campaign and the RGA have done plenty to contrast the state's economic outlook with that of Milwaukee, where Tom Barrett serves as mayor. And that appears to have gotten them some traction.

Have you come to any feeling as to the rumored story that Walker is in the focus of the investigation on the misuse of taxpayers funds and work hours in Milwaukee during Walker stint as County Manager.

This is something Democrats have tried to use against Walker, with limited success. For more, see here: http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/barrett-focuses-on-probe-of-walker-aides-in-final-recall-debate-9h5k6hr-156139325.html

Let's just say that Walker wins and doesn't get recalled.  How bad has this whole recall vote hurt his image (has it at all?)?  Will he get any respect from his peers, and will it be harder for him to get things done?

It will definitely be harder to get things done if Democrats re-take the state Senate.

But I'm not sure that his image has paid a price. He's actually more popular than when this whole thing kicked off. Now, the opposition is definitely motivated, but his political standing overall doesn't appear to have suffered.

Aaron: For most of my life (I'm 64) Wisconsin was the epitome of Midwestern progressivism, making it a solid Democratic state. In fact, the state's history in that regard goes back to before I was born--Robert LaFollette was the symbol of it. To use today's color coding, what has caused Wisconsin to go from blue to purple? I'm guessing it's partly due to the decline of industrialism and the loss of a working class that tended to be to the left, at least on economic issues.

It's certainly all about the economy. I'm from Minnesota, and that state underwent a big rightward shift in 2010, the likes of which I never imagined. Midwestern states have paid a big price; the question is whether the shift to purple is a passing fad or evidence of a longer-term political shift. And I think that's a very valid question.

If Walker survives, as seems likely, what are his chances for being on a national ticket in the future as president or VP? I know he didn't finish college, which would make him a first since Truman.

I think there will be some chatter along those lines. Some people forget that Walker is very young for a governor -- 44 -- which means he could have a long political career in front of him. That said, he faces another election in 2014, so he'll have to continue to fight for his political career. And starting your career with such a polarizing image isn't always a great entree on to the national scene. Do Republicans want a VP that half of people love and half, for lack of a better term, hate?

Thanks everyone for coming out! And stay tuned to The Fix tonight for all our coverage of the voting in Wisconsin!

In This Chat
Aaron Blake
Aaron Blake covers national politics at the Washington Post, where he writes regularly for the Fix, the Post?s top political blog. A Minnesota native and summa cum laude graduate of the University of Minnesota, Aaron has also written about politics for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and The Hill newspaper. Aaron and his wife, Danielle, live in Annandale, Va.
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