Wisconsin: Labor gambles and loses

By Ken Feltman

After all the campaigning and vicious attack ads, outright thuggery in a few areas and millions of dollars in outside money, the results in the Wisconsin recall election look a lot like the results from November 2010.

Yes, there were dirty tricks. People come from outside Wisconsin and claimed they lived in Wisconsin. Many of them took advantage of the election-day registration law and voted on election day, probably for the Democratic slate. There were reports of phone calls to labor union households with a message that anyone who signed a petition demanding the recall election need not bother to vote because their opinion had been counted.

After all the rancor and dirty tricks, Governor Scott Walker’s 2012 victory looks a lot like his 2010 victory: Walker won men and lost women; He lost voters under 30 but won every other age group; He won independents but lost moderates.

Walker lost college grads while winning voters without a college degree; He was beaten badly in union households; He lost low-income voters but won every other income group.

Walker won almost all Republican voters and lost almost all Democrats; He won rural and suburban voters and lost urban voters.

The same two candidates met in two elections, separated by just 19 months and a white-hot political inferno, but not much changed – except that organized lost a huge gamble.

Things in the United States may never be the same.

Ten years from now, 20 years, perhaps 100, analysts may look back at June 5, 2012, and say that was the date that marked the beginning of the U.S. return to industrial competitiveness. We cannot know today what verdict history will return but we know that the voters turned sour on the cost of the welfare state and – for the first time in U.S. history – returned a governor to office in a recall election.

A narrow loss by an incumbent Republican state senator flipped the senate to Democratic control, 17-16. But the senate is not expected to meet before the November general election. Governor Walker is unlikely to call a special session. Beside that, Republicans were meeting at 4 o’clock this morning to decide whether to demand a recount. Apparently, some GOP officials claim that election day registrations seemed to be dominated by new voters who arrived by the bus load, registered, voted, then got back on the bus and headed across the state line into Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois or Iowa.

We shall see.

About Radnor Reports

Ken Feltman is past-president of the International Association of Political Consultants and the American League of Lobbyists. He is retired chairman of Radnor Inc., an international political consulting and government relations firm in Washington, D.C. Known as a coalition builder, he has participated in election campaigns and legislative efforts in the United States and several other countries.
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