Join 3,432 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Wisconsin recall efforts fall short amid corruption fears
August 10, 2011 5:07 AM   Subscribe

After weeks of fake primaries, fraudulent mailers, special interest moneybombs, and last-minute attempts at voter suppression, Wisconsinites went to the polls yesterday in an unprecedented round of six recall elections targeted mainly at Republican state senators for their support of Governor Scott Walker's controversial union-busting agenda. Five of the six races were called by Tuesday evening, with Democrats taking two of the three they'd need to regain control of the state senate. The lone holdout? A dead heat between incumbent Alberta Darling and challenger Sandy Pasch in District 8 -- the very same district that saw suspicious vote-counting by conservative Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus unexpectedly tip the balance towards Walker ally David Prosser late in the crucial state supreme court race this past April. The protracted count and late-night shift toward Darling coupled with Nickolaus's questionable history soon prompted Democratic officials to make accusations of fraud (later retracted). Control of the senate now lies in the defense of two Democratic seats up for recall next week and the possible wooing of GOP Senator Dale Schultz, the only Republican to vote against Walker's bill. Walker himself will be eligible for recall next spring.

The Wisconsin union battle previously on Metafilter: Walker threatens crackdown after announcing anti-union push - protests erupt - stealth votes - Walker's conversation with a fake Koch brother - protests grow - the union bill passes under possibly illegal circumstances - a professor is bullied - constitutional crisis - power grabs and cronyism - Supreme Court race upset - the union bill struck down (since overruled) - fighting (literally) in the Supreme Court - voter registration locations shuttered in run-up to election
posted by Rhaomi (136 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Do any of your links give the results from yesterday?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:16 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


AP Results - seems to call 4 of the races for the Rs, 2 for the Ds, unless I'm missing something.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:21 AM on August 10, 2011


Four of the six seats remain in GOP hands, so they still have a majority.
posted by tommasz at 5:21 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not the actual vote totals, which are still preliminary as far as I know and slow to come, but I figured the outcome was clear from the title and the link to the unofficial state Democratic Party concession (I don't think Pasch has conceded yet herself).
posted by Rhaomi at 5:22 AM on August 10, 2011


When I looked at the Darling/Pasch race late last night, AP was reporting 52/48 for Darling, with most remaining precincts in Milwaukee county (the expectation would be that Democrats would be the majority there). At that point, Pasch could have made a theoretical comeback, unlikely, but maybe. It looked like Waukesha county had already reported at that point.
posted by gimonca at 5:27 AM on August 10, 2011


Sad, but predictable, really.

The US is taking a huge swing to the far-right. Wisconsin was, simply, an early beachhead in a state that was traditionally more moderate, so the sea change was more abrupt and upsetting (to some) than it may have been in a more conservative state (like Indiana, for instance.)

This result will simply embolden the conservative tide, now that it has survived a concerted attempt to push it back. 2012 is going to be a watershed election for this country. And, I don't mean that in a good way.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:32 AM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


gimonca- all of Milwaukee county was in before Waukesha county reported its final results.
posted by Jpfed at 5:32 AM on August 10, 2011


But it's not over yet, right? If the two Dems hold their seat next week doesn't the power shifts to them?
posted by Room 641-A at 5:36 AM on August 10, 2011


And now it's Darling 54, Pasch 46. So since I looked (11:30 pm or so) Darling picked up 2 percentage points from somewhere.

Looking at the final totals, though, my gut reaction is that Waukesha county isn't that big a portion of the overall total. It doesn't look that likely that Waukesha county by itself could have swung the election, fraudulently or otherwise. If I remember correctly, Waukesha had reported most or all of its precincts when I looked last night.
posted by gimonca at 5:36 AM on August 10, 2011


Fred Risser said a couple months ago that if the recalls do not result in a Dem Senate majority (and they did not) that it was unlikely that the Walker recall would happen.
posted by Jpfed at 5:37 AM on August 10, 2011


all of Milwaukee county was in before Waukesha county reported its final results

This was based on glancing at the AP results, the AP results could have lagged or been out of synch.
posted by gimonca at 5:38 AM on August 10, 2011


But it's not over yet, right? If the two Dems hold their seat next week doesn't the power shifts to them?

No. Those seats are already counted as part of the Dem's total, since they are sitting representatives.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:38 AM on August 10, 2011


If the two Dems hold their seat next week doesn't the power shifts to them?

Nope. The Dems do not currently have a Senate majority, and the elections next week determine whether they lose some seats they already have. They have nothing more to gain.

In a more abstract sense, even though they've gained a couple seats, the Dems suffered a significant defeat yesterday, in that the GOP feels reassured that they have an electoral mandate.
posted by Jpfed at 5:39 AM on August 10, 2011


I hope all of the people who said we should spend our efforts on this stupid recall instead of organizing toward a strike are happy now.
posted by enn at 5:41 AM on August 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


...and I imagine they probably are. They get to bask in their sense of moral superiority without having to worry about anything actually changing.
posted by enn at 5:44 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ok, thanks Thorzdad.

On preview: Jpfed, that was my next question.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:44 AM on August 10, 2011


enn- I believe the Dem failure to gain the Senate was not because the recall in itself was strategically a bad idea, but that Clark was not a strong candidate. Olsen was weak enough at the start of this that he could have been unseated by a better opponent.
posted by Jpfed at 5:49 AM on August 10, 2011


I hope all of the people who said we should spend our efforts on this stupid recall instead of organizing toward a strike are happy now.

Apart from your attitude, what exactly is it that prohibits doing both?

They get to bask in their sense of moral superiority. . .

And you're better how?
 
posted by Herodios at 5:50 AM on August 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


One of the reasons why the right win more elections than the left in most countries is that after electoral defeat the right blames itself while the left blames the people.
posted by joannemullen at 5:52 AM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is, fundamentally, the problem with the Democrats appropriating a Centrist position. Inevitably it will lead to a shift to the right: conservatives will be able to to adopt increasingly crazy positions while pushing the "middle" further and further over.

Over the next ten years, Democrats need to work their butts of on narrative and rhetoric. We need to figure out a way to move the country back to the left. I'd hazard that most people in the US support a government that is far more liberal than they realize; it just has to be called something other than "liberal".
posted by Deathalicious at 6:00 AM on August 10, 2011 [25 favorites]


Also, because of Wisconsin's policy that you have to be in office a year before you can be recalled, the Senators who were up for recall yesterday weren't the newly installed tea party types that came in in the last election. (Before the Nov. 2010 elections, Democrats held the state senate 18 to 14. ) They're Republicans to be sure, but Republicans who had been part of the old pre-Walker Senate that at least didn't have tens of thousands of people protesting in the streets of the capital.

Will be more interesting to see if the recall movement can maintain its momentum until the year's up and Walker and the newly elected Republicans who are mostly responsible for this mess are recallable.
posted by Naberius at 6:01 AM on August 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Kos noted that only 13 state legislators have been recalled in the entire history of the USA. So this is a huge victory, in the face of nearly impossible odds. These were recalls in heavily Republican districts.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:02 AM on August 10, 2011 [16 favorites]


One of the reasons why the right win more elections than the left in most countries is that after electoral defeat the right blames itself while the left blames the people.

The real problem is that when the Left wins more than 50%, they act as if they barely squeaked in, but when the Right does, they act like they have a mandate. In the US, at least, it seems like the people don't care what things you actually do so long as you just Get Things Done.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:03 AM on August 10, 2011 [23 favorites]


Apart from your attitude, what exactly is it that prohibits doing both?

Are you seriously asking this? The scarcity of resources.

And you're better how?

To begin with, I didn't waste millions of dollars of other people's earnestly-given money on an idiotic charade designed to protect the interests of the political class.
posted by enn at 6:04 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Kos noted that only 13 state legislators have been recalled in the entire history of the USA. So this is a huge victory, in the face of nearly impossible odds.

One more such victory and I am ruined
posted by jfuller at 6:09 AM on August 10, 2011


The US is taking a huge swing to the far-right. Wisconsin was, simply, an early beachhead in a state that was traditionally more moderate, so the sea change was more abrupt and upsetting (to some) than it may have been in a more conservative state (like Indiana, for instance.)

It's worth noting that all of these races were actually in very strong GOP districts, where even one win would have been a big accomplishment. On a national scale, if the Democrats were to win 2 of every 6 districts that were this red, they'd have a huge majority in the House, would likely retain the Senate, and re-elect Obama in a landslide.

In a more abstract sense, even though they've gained a couple seats, the Dems suffered a significant defeat yesterday, in that the GOP feels reassured that they have an electoral mandate.

Maybe that's what the GOP feels, but if I was Walker and the Tea Party winners, I'd be pretty worried, since extrapolating the results to state-wide means that Walker et al would actually lose a recall by a fairly significant margin of between 6%-10%.

I hope all of the people who said we should spend our efforts on this stupid recall instead of organizing toward a strike are happy now.

Why? The strikes already happened, and the time for political action was never better.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:10 AM on August 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Kos noted that only 13 state legislators have been recalled in the entire history of the USA. So this is a huge victory, in the face of nearly impossible odds.

A victory is when you get what you want. State workers get zero out of this. Why should I care what some field director gets to put on his resume? No points are awarded for effort here.
posted by enn at 6:10 AM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why? The strikes already happened, and the time for political action was never better.

What strikes? The teachers were out (a sickout, not a walkout) for, what, three days? There was the will among the rank and file to do much, much more, and it was intentionally shut down by the union leaderships and the Democratic Party establishment in favor of putting that will toward this doomed recall effort.
posted by enn at 6:13 AM on August 10, 2011


It's a huge....accomplishment. Don't think one could call it a victory.
posted by gimonca at 6:14 AM on August 10, 2011


enn - how do you see getting a strike to happen? (and do you mean a general strike, or just state workers?)

serious question, not arguing for the sake of arguing
posted by desjardins at 6:14 AM on August 10, 2011


Whatever. The Democrats didn't win the lottery; yeah that sucks. This is an amazing victory for them. There have been fifteen successful legislative recalls in the history of the entire country, and two- two of them were last night.

The Wisconsin legislature remains controlled by the Republicans by a single Republican vote, many of which are now well aware that they have a one in three chance of losing their job next year if they decide to continue blindly following a governor who has dropped more than 30 points in public approval. He will likely face a recall election next year; not a single Republican in the Senate wants to be on the same ticket as that one.

I'm sure there's going to be the usual round of the usual people deciding how they're going to blame Obama and/or Glenn Greenwald for just barely coming short of a complete Senate takeover and I'm sure that a lot of pro-Walker folks across the internet are going to crow about this and accuse comments like this of sad spin but really, I don't know how else to reflect on the bizarre perceptions from both sides about this percieved "victory: for the GOP: umm, yeah, congratulations on your amazing success in losing two Senate seats in elections that were forced on you because everyone hated you enough.

If incumbent Congressional Republicans in the national race next year manage to pull off a similar victory of losing a third of the seats they had challengers for I will be happy to join Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her pity party.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:14 AM on August 10, 2011 [53 favorites]


A victory is when you get what you want. State workers get zero out of this. Why should I care what some field director gets to put on his resume? No points are awarded for effort here.

If one were able to look past the next 30 days, then sure. The rest of us understand that this wasn't a resume exercise, and hopefully are the ones revving up the engine for the Walker and 2010 wave recalls. It's also worth it to remember that if Schulz is scared shitless over the results, there actually should be enough votes to overturn the bill.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:20 AM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Such an amazing victory, preserving their minority status. Now they will continue to be able to do nothing about anything. Pats on the back for everyone.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:22 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sad, but predictable, really.

The US is taking a huge swing to the far-right.


This is technically a swing to the left, as these were all republican districts at stake, and the Democrats won two.
posted by empath at 6:23 AM on August 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Such an amazing victory, preserving their minority status.

There have been 13 state legislators in the history of the country who have been successfully recalled.
posted by empath at 6:23 AM on August 10, 2011


"fraudulent mailers": there is little reason to think the mailers in question were anything but a mistake.

"last-minute attempts at voter suppression" -- the DMV hours issue has to do with later elections, not this one; the voter ID law is not yet active here.

As for Kathy Nickolaus, it's pretty clear she's bad at her job. But the reason lots of Republican votes come out of Waukesha County is that there are lots of Republicans in Waukesha County. The margin Darling got there yesterday is just about what you would have expected from past elections, and no, I don't think Nickolaus tampered with every single one.

As others have said above, the story here is not really that dramatic. The state Democratic party saw an opportunity to capitalize on angry Dem voters in WI and get some Democratic legislators in GOP-leaning districts, just as the Republicans did in Dem districts in 2010. Winning seats where your party's outnumbered isn't easy. SD32 (Schilling over Kapanke) isn't really a R district. SD18 (King over Hopper) is, and the Democrats probably wouldn't have taken that one if not for Hopper's marital problems.

To sum up: Half the people in Wisconsin are Republicans and half are Democrats. The Republicans vote for Republicans and the Democrats vote for Democrats. That's what happened yesterday, except that the D's took a Senate seat in R-leaning SD18. Coming within 4-6 points in SD8 and SD14 has to make the state party optimistic about the Assembly elections in 2012.
posted by escabeche at 6:24 AM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Correction: If one were unable
posted by zombieflanders at 6:25 AM on August 10, 2011


I joined my union this morning.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:26 AM on August 10, 2011 [19 favorites]


there actually should be enough votes to overturn the bill.

The Assembly has a large GOP majority through November 2012. None of the Governor's legislation is going to be overturned anytime soon and yesterday's election has no effect on that. The question is about Walker's ability to get legislation through between now and then.
posted by escabeche at 6:26 AM on August 10, 2011


enn - how do you see getting a strike to happen? (and do you mean a general strike, or just state workers?)

I would have loved to see a general strike, but even a strike limited to state workers could have been very effective.

I think it could have happened if the leadership of the unions hadn't been intent on avoiding a strike. The teachers were very conflicted on whether to keep the strike going, and it is my understanding that their leadership was instrumental into convincing them to end it.

It was probably possible to organize a strike even over the objections of the union leadership; it was a failure of organizing on the part of the people pushing for it (like me). I think there were some tactical mistakes—specifically, at the height of the protest activity and the Capitol occupation, it was decided by a bunch of general strike organizers not to push for an immediate strike but to try to get the infrastructure in place to have people strike after the bill actually passed. I didn't really see the point in waiting until you've already lost before taking action, and in any case the momentum had really faded at that point.

Even if there had not been these tactical problems, maybe it just wasn't possible. But I have a hard time believing that if all the energy that went into field organizing for the recall had gone into field organizing for the strike, we would have been left with as little to show for it as we now are.
posted by enn at 6:27 AM on August 10, 2011


It's also worth it to remember that if Schulz is scared shitless over the results, there actually should be enough votes to overturn the bill.

How much are you willing to bet on this? I will put money on that not happening.
posted by enn at 6:29 AM on August 10, 2011


Given that there have been so few successful recalls of state legislators in US history, I'd say this is a huge achievement (and pushing through nearly 13% of all successful recalls in history at one go looks like a pretty dramatic thing to me). But the victory party only comes later, after public workers' rights have actually been restored. And even then it's too early to roll out a "mission accomplished" banner.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:31 AM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't help but wonder if the results would have been different if all of the Rs were recalled. If I recall correctly, every eligible-to-be-recalled R was but you can't recall anyone there for less than a year. (Or something like that.)
posted by andreaazure at 6:32 AM on August 10, 2011


> Kos noted that only 13 state legislators have been recalled in the entire history of the USA. So this is a huge victory, in the face of nearly impossible odds.

"One more such victory and I am ruined"


Yeah, we all (think we) know what a pyrric victory is. How does that apply here?

Dissappointment in the absence of total victory is not pyrric.

Look at what was arrayed against this effort (read the FPP). In the middle of summer, on the GOP's home turf (these particular districts) a third of them were sent home. The country's attention is focussed, however briefly on this effort, and the reasons for it are clear to everyone.

darth_tedious on metafilter a few days ago:
Voters don't want to know how to fix a specific problem, or know that you have a plan for for fixing it that Serious People like, or know that you how to fix this problem-- voters want to know who to blame for all their problems.
Until the Dems stop focusing on solutions and start focusing on Robber Barons Who Are Laughing At You and Making Secret Insider Deals to Steal Your House and Molest Your Kittens, they are going to be reliably defeated by Republicans claiming that Eggheads and Black People Are Keeping You From Being Your Natural Millionaire Self.
This story told nationally on behalf of this effort seems like a step in the left direction.

Finally, Molly Ivins:
Each of us has as citizens of this country, an obligation to protect its political heritage, and an obligation to protect its Constitution and its basic rights. And in the course of doing that, you’ve got to have fun, because you’re not going to always win.
 
posted by Herodios at 6:35 AM on August 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


I think enn might be right though. A long enough strike can drive people to the polls to vote for whoever will calm the striking parties down again.

I can't help but wonder if the results would have been different if all of the Rs were recalled.

There's some discussion of this up-thread. None of the newly elected Tea Party legislators that really ticked everyone off were eligible for recall yet, so these were old-guard republicans who got the boot.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:37 AM on August 10, 2011


I agree that a strike could have been effective. I just don't know how you convince people to strike in this economy. I would say a general strike would be impossible right now; no one I know is in a financial state to ride it out.
posted by desjardins at 6:45 AM on August 10, 2011


Slightly off-topic but the other day I was wondering: where does all this Right-wing stuff come from? I mean, among the developed economies of the world, we seem unique in having this population of rich people who really seem to see no benefit to having a government that serves the Greater Good, who really think life would be better with no regulations, who seem to believe that all elements of life (including hospitals and schools) are better run on the profit motive, and seem to not care at all whether people who work can organize in even minor ways to improve their lot.

It's a naive thought, I know, but sometimes naive questions are important to ask from time to time. I understand the history of individualism and general greed built into the country's development, but I sometimes find it unfathomable that rich Americans sit around thinking, "you know what? We don't have quite enough." What produces a Scott Walker? The individualism argument doesn't seem satisfying enough to me.

Rich people in other countries don't seem to have the same urge to dominate. Or maybe they do, but they're just not organized, or the less-rich people in the country are better educated or more sophisticated about their interests. In any case, I'm interested in being enlightened on these questions.
posted by Philemon at 6:58 AM on August 10, 2011 [12 favorites]


If you think this is a loss for the Democrats you really need to turn in your pundit card for retraining. Democrats won 2/6 GOP-held seats last night; that's Dems +2, not -4. The GOP had already won these seats; last night they lost them.

That Democrats didn't get three, and that they fell short by such a small amount, sucks, but it doesn't make last night a win for the Republicans. They lost two of their own districts; Democrats gained two.

If Democrats win 2/6 of GOP-held seats in the House of Representatives in November 2012, they'll gain 81 seats -- and will have a 57-seat majority.

Republicans lost. Count the right way.
posted by gerryblog at 7:01 AM on August 10, 2011 [22 favorites]


Yeah, much as I support the idea of a general strike, framing this as a defeat is silly — if you're bitching that this doesn't change Walker's power, how would a strike have altered the legislature?
posted by klangklangston at 7:02 AM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ok, I'm feeling a bit better about this.

I have to admit I was feeling disappointed that the recalls were not a straight forward win-- like a Democratic hot knife through Republican butter. But thanks to all of you who have given me food for positive thought.

Hmmmm I think I might be hungry.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:04 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree that a strike could have been effective. I just don't know how you convince people to strike in this economy. I would say a general strike would be impossible right now; no one I know is in a financial state to ride it out.

Right now, my law firm has no phone service except for one emergency line. It's a disaster for me, but I have to say my liberal heart is not altogether unhappy. 40,000 Verizon workers will be happy explain to you how you convince people to strike in this economy.
posted by The Bellman at 7:07 AM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't help but wonder if the results would have been different if all of the Rs were recalled. If I recall correctly, every eligible-to-be-recalled R was but you can't recall anyone there for less than a year. (Or something like that.)

Six of the eight eligible R senators had recall elections. Three of the eight eligible D senators had, or will shortly have, recall elections. Of the six R senators recalled, four kept their seats and two lost them to D challengers. Two of the D senators have elections next week, Senator Holperin of the Northwoods (sorry for the fantasy novel phrasing, but sometimes you gotta) and Senator Wirch of far southeastern Wisconsin. One D senator successfully defended his seat in July.

Notably, the two eligible R senators who were not recalled are Mary Lazich and Glenn Grothman. Grothman has not behaved like a gentleman at all during this affair, and I'm not a highly-sought-after political strategist, but it seems to me like he'd be a high-value target (he's on the Joint Finance Committee among other things). His district was just too red.
posted by yomimono at 7:09 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Slightly off-topic but the other day I was wondering: where does all this Right-wing stuff come from? I mean, among the developed economies of the world, we seem unique in having this population of rich people who really seem to see no benefit to having a government that serves the Greater Good, who really think life would be better with no regulations, who seem to believe that all elements of life (including hospitals and schools) are better run on the profit motive, and seem to not care at all whether people who work can organize in even minor ways to improve their lot.

"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." -- John Steinbeck

The American Dream (or nightmare depending on your perspective of the situation) pervades the American psyche so deeply that people will vote actively against their own self-interest because they honestly believe their turn is coming real soon and they don't want to fuck "their" turn up.
posted by Talez at 7:10 AM on August 10, 2011 [16 favorites]


Yeah, we all (think we) know what a pyrric victory is. How does that apply here?

Because there was all this effort and money expended for a recall and then it didn't change the balance of power. For the Democrats, it's money and energy that can't be put into the next general election, not to mention those who will be disillusioned by the process and chose not to participate. This is why it's so important for the Democrats to spin it as a victory, so their side doesn't get discouraged.

On the other side, the GOP gets a morale boost for having survived. They'll view it, rightly or wrongly, as having again received a mandate from the voters to continue their policies.

For voters in the middle, not a few will, I expect, be irritated at the whole thing. Because the Democrats lost they will (perhaps wrongly) view the whole process as a waste of time and may blame the people who forced the recall (the Democrats) for wasting their time.
posted by Jahaza at 7:11 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I should've also mentioned that Grothman is not a new legislator, but is very publicly buddy-buddy with the Tea Party - and his district isn't mad enough about that to bring an election to challenge him, let alone to oust him.
posted by yomimono at 7:12 AM on August 10, 2011


40,000 Verizon workers.. .

I like to picture those folks, as in their teevy commercials, massed behind the be-spectacled guy in the grey jumpsuit -- with their backs turned.
posted by Herodios at 7:14 AM on August 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


The American Dream (or nightmare depending on your perspective of the situation) pervades the American psyche so deeply that people will vote actively against their own self-interest because they honestly believe their turn is coming real soon and they don't want to fuck "their" turn up.

Really? I'm finding that hard to believe, is there any sort of data to back it up.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:15 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The quote defining a Pyrrhic victory is "One more such victory and I am ruined." There's absolutely no indication that Democrats somehow sunk "too much" into the recalls, is there? Obama's still going to raise a brazillion dollars for his reelection campaign. Democrats are still flush with cash and resources.

The quote, to the extent it applies to anyone at all, plainly applies to the Republicans, who obviously can't afford to lose 2/6 of their districts (in either recalls or elections). If Republicans repeat last night's performance in 2012 it will be an epic defeat.

I can't believe this is being so flagrantly misunderstood by so many allegedly savvy people here and elsewhere. Only Republican seats were at risk last night. Best they could hope for was a tie; instead they lost two.
posted by gerryblog at 7:21 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


If Democrats win 2/6 of GOP-held seats in the House of Representatives in November 2012, they'll gain 81 seats -- and will have a 57-seat majority.

An irrelevant calculation. Many GOP-held Assembly seats are in completely safe districts -- not "reddish" like Randy Hopper's districts, red-red like Mequon and Brookfleld. Democrats have no better chance there than the Republicans have of winning an assembly seat in the middle of Madison.

What yesterday's election (along with Gov. Walker's tanking approval rating) does suggest is that the 2010 political environment is finished, and that the makeup of the next Assembly will be much more in line with the roughly even party split among the state's voters.
posted by escabeche at 7:21 AM on August 10, 2011


Republicans lost. Count the right way.
I count just fine.

The republicans had an unassailable majority before these recalls.
The republicans have an unassailable majority after these recalls.

The entire point of the recalls was to swing the balance of power in order to undo the damage Walker and his ideologues have done. The Dems failed to do this. That they picked-up two more seats is inconsequential and stands as a classic "won the battle, lost the war" scenario.

Walker and Co. will, rightly or wrongly, see this outcome as a vindication of their efforts and will most likely go for more.

This was about the balance of power. The Dems are still on the "powerless" side of the ledger.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:23 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


> "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."... people will vote actively against their own self-interest because they honestly believe their turn is coming real soon and they don't want to fuck "their" turn up.

People in my hometown vote Republican because they vote on social issues and they vote Republican because they see environmental protections as having brought down the timber industry that employed a lot of people (among other reasons). I don't think anyone is voting Republican because they don't want to have to pay taxes in a couple years when they finally come into their millions.

I'm kind of bummed that we didn't take the senate, but the balance of power has shifted some, and I wish like crazy that everyone would stop casting this as a defeat for the Democrats.
posted by Vibrissa at 7:23 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


An irrelevant calculation.

Wasn't intended as a prediction -- just an illustration.
posted by gerryblog at 7:23 AM on August 10, 2011


Thorzdad, the Wisconsin legislature is bicameral. They weren't going to be able to swing the balance of power or undo the damage under any circumstances. This was always only about revenge and about making sure that Republicans think twice before they mess with labor in the future.

But I'm Ironmouthing. I'll shut up.
posted by gerryblog at 7:25 AM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


This was always only about revenge and about making sure that Republicans think twice before they mess with labor in the future.

It's also about being able to kill legislation in the Senate. Having different parties in control of the Assembly and the Senate is a check on extremist legislation (and sometimes any legislation at all).
posted by yomimono at 7:28 AM on August 10, 2011


> > Yeah, we all (think we) know what a pyrric victory is. How does that apply here?

> Because there was all this effort and money expended for a recall and then it didn't change the balance of power.


I'm not feelin' it. The relevant quote wrt Pyrrhus is "another such victory and I am undone,'" when in fact, another such victory and the Democrats have a majority in the Wisconsin State Senate.

Not as poetic, but much more satisfying.

I continue to reject this counsel of despair.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:28 AM on August 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


The republicans had an unassailable majority before these recalls.
The republicans have an unassailable majority after these recalls.


It is plain to see that it is more assailable now.

The entire point of the recalls was to swing the balance of power in order to undo the damage Walker and his ideologues have done.


That wasn't even a little bit of the point, since the State Senate alone can't repeal legislation. The point was a) to make it more difficult for the administration to get further legislation through, and b) to establish Democratic incumbents in Republican districts, thus strengthening the party's position for future elections.

Neither goal was realized to the extent Democrats desired. Both were realized to a greater extent than Republicans desired. This is politics, not a Packers game; very few outcomes are pure wins and losses.
posted by escabeche at 7:29 AM on August 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Really? I'm finding that hard to believe, is there any sort of data to back it up.

Yes; the 'impoverished millionaires' bit gets bandied around a lot, and it is certainly true of a segment of the population (Doug Henwood had a fantastic interview on his radio show a few months back with the author of A Company of One, a book about unemployed tech workers, who seem to feel exactly this way) but I don't really think it's true of most people.

I think desjardins gets much closer to the truth in her comments above—it's not that most people are especially happy with the economic structure of the US. It's that they see it as an inevitability, and see organizing against it as a futile exercise that comes at tremendous personal cost. How do you get people to go out on strike in this country? You convince them that they have a real shot at winning. But that is very difficult to do, because they are not going to believe you; and if you look at the recent history of strikes, they have good reason not to. I would argue argue that recent strikes have been ineffective because of tactical mistakes as Joe Burns argues in Reviving the Strike, but it's still asking a lot for people to put their jobs and livelihoods on the line for a tactic that has failed so many times and I don't have any solutions to that.
posted by enn at 7:32 AM on August 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Or, what gerrymouth said. :)
posted by Herodios at 7:32 AM on August 10, 2011


The republicans have an unassailable majority after these recalls.

Ummm, no. They don't. That's the point you seem to be missing.

A large handful of Republican senators are eligible for recalls next year... along with Scott Walker who is now among the most disliked governors in the entire country. If the sentiment against Walker carries over the next year and he faces a recall any GOP senator in a purple to blue district will be scared shitless about losing a recall with their name along with Walker's. Meanwhile, Of the remaining one-vote majority in the state senate, one of those Republicans is a senator who voted against the anti-union bill. This is even more compounded if the activists can mange to get the recall to happen during the November elections... at which point there will be the largest possible turnout in a state that is almost a guaranteed win for Obama.

That's a hefty boatload of assailable right there.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:32 AM on August 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Contrasts from Drudge:

UNIONS LOSE IN WISCONSIN...

Republicans take 4 of 6 in recall elections, hold Senate...

GOP's stand 'could reverberate elsewhere'...

posted by resurrexit at 7:37 AM on August 10, 2011


Minority gains in a legislative body do matter when it comes to passing legislation, because many votes don't break strictly along party lines. A weaker majority must compromise more to avoid abstentions or cross-over coalitions. A stronger minority is in a better position to block or amend a bill through procedural rules or by putting pressure on moderates.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:41 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


GOP's stand 'could reverberate elsewhere'...

Heck with Drudge, drill down into that for more liberal bias in the media from the AP via The Sam Freekin Hozay Mercury News:
Democrats and union leaders tried to make the best of the historic GOP wins. . .
 
posted by Herodios at 7:51 AM on August 10, 2011


Those reports that characterize this as a defeat for Dems? Those reports are politics in action. Spinning events as either victories or defeats is the practice of politics. Modern American Lefties don't understand this very well, and tend to accept as gospel any evidence that their side is losing and/or hopelessly corrupt, regardless of the source, because it confirms their deeply held, core beliefs that all human beings are corruptible and imperfect.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:00 AM on August 10, 2011 [8 favorites]



There is a whole FPP that could be written on that WI SC decision upholding the anti-union bill.

I wish I had a better understanding of the legal implications, or I would do it. But the basic idea is that the WI SC didn't have the authority to do what they did - so they invented a new one "supervisory/original jursidiction". Compounding the error, they then ruled that the WI legislature cannot be bound by laws, only their own rules which can be changed whenever and however the legislature decides to change them.

It's basically an inverse Marbury vs. Madison, because the WI SC has basically said that they have no oversight of the legislative process.

It's terrible on a number of levels and really breathtakingly bad. Like Plessy vs. Ferguson bad.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:01 AM on August 10, 2011


It wasn't a waste.

The Democrats were outspent the entire race and yet they still took the state senate down to a one-vote majority. Republican Senator Dale Schultz has been a strong holdout against Governor Walker. So there may yet be changes on the horizon. Assuming Holperin and Wirch survive next week's recalls.

Surprising, even though the district isn't very red: Democrat Jennifer Schilling beat Dan Kapanke -- a Republican who very nearly was elected to the House of Representatives last November. He lost that election to Kind, 50%-47% .
posted by zarq at 8:02 AM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


enn, I disagree with you on the meaning of the recall results, but I appreciate your links here.

I've been pretty convinced of the "What's The Matter With Kansas" school of thought to explain working class GOPism, but happy to see some contrarian analysis, which I will read with keen interest. Thanks.

As to Desjardins comment, we do seem to be conveniently suspended between confident demand-a-slice-of-the-pie prosperity and desparate what-have-we-got-to-lose depression. Have been for some time. Keeps people from taking too many chances with their 'lifestyles' to get things changed. How much that is by design is left as an exercise for the student.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:05 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are two fewer Republicans in power than there were yesterday.

Seriously, anyone on the left who is "disappointed" about this: you won. Get over it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:06 AM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm hoping Dale Schulz can pull a Lincoln Chaffee, at least. Or something. He's shown he can cross the aisle. We'll see.

That's the best I got.

Also? Fuck you Waukesha county and damnit, we need to investigate whats her face...
posted by symbioid at 8:06 AM on August 10, 2011


Those reports that characterize this as a defeat for Dems? Those reports are politics in action. Spinning events as either victories or defeats

Spin like that could take us all backward in time, like Christopher Reeve in Superman.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:07 AM on August 10, 2011


XQUZYPHYR: " Seriously, anyone on the left who is "disappointed" about this: you won. Get over it."

You know, it really is okay for people to be disappointed that the recalls didn't go further than they did. Wisconsin Dems are fighting an uphill battle. This isn't over; there are two democrats who are going to be fighting recall elections next week.

The election certainly wasn't a waste, but it's also not a decisive victory. Framing it as such seems like rah rah bullshit.
posted by zarq at 8:12 AM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


saulgoodman: Modern American Lefties don't understand this very well, and tend to accept as gospel any evidence that their side is losing and/or hopelessly corrupt, regardless of the source, because it confirms their deeply held, core beliefs that all human beings are corruptible and imperfect.

Including irresponsible generalizations about "Modern American Lefties," I see. Almost all of what I'm reading on the left is reserved optimism that this is a step forward.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:14 AM on August 10, 2011


zarq I'm not going to spam the thread so I don't want to keep repeating it and I'll back off after this comment, but saying that it's a loss because they didn't take over the Senate is like saying that I lost because I hit five of the numbers in Powerball and only won $2,000 instead of the hundred-million-dollar jackpot.

Next week's Democrat recalls may tell a different story, but there were literally no net losses for Democrats last night. Absolutely none. It was 100% forward momentum.

That this was all done by grassroots activism and devoid of any national party platform prominence is even more significant. For anyone to suggest that unions don't have incredible power in Wisconsin right now would be either naive or just plain pathetic.

I'm saying "get over it" because this isn't some kind of "oh just accept that Obama will only give you half of what you want" kind of deal like common arguments that are had here. This isn't about milquetoast Senators or ineffective presidents or traitorous moderates or backroom deals. There weren't bargains or negotiations involved. Democrats just won two elections. That's really it. I simply refuse to be upset about it.

That Democrats have every right in the world to go rah rah and instead face calls of bullshit for it are why moments like this are rare to begin with. It's amazing that there are 3,000-comment rantfests about how Obama screwing the middle class "isn't that big a deal" but when the Demcrats pick up two state senate seats it's a "disappointment."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:24 AM on August 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


The election certainly wasn't a waste, but it's also not a decisive victory.

It's a decisive victory, period. Democrats knocked off two Senators and came close to knocking off two more. It wasn't a total victory, no, but decisive yes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:26 AM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the Facebook page: UW Madison Faculty Organizing for Change:

"Tonight, 2 GOP senators were ousted by Wisconsin voters. If you doubt that's a huge achievement, think about this: the budget repair bill, passed just 5 months ago, would not pass in the new Senate. We have plenty more work to do, but this is a big step forward. Thanks for all you've done."
posted by Naberius at 8:29 AM on August 10, 2011


The republicans have an unassailable majority after these recalls.

Dale Schultz (R) crossed the aisle to vote against Walker's bill, and I wouldn't be surprised to see some opportunistic members flip their party-line votes (a la Ben Nelson) if the conditions were right.
posted by Challahtronix at 8:29 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Next week's Democrat recalls may tell a different story, but there were literally no net losses for Democrats last night. Absolutely none. It was 100% forward momentum.

No, it's not a loss for the Democratic Party, but it is a loss for the state workers of Wisconsin, who are exactly where they started.
posted by enn at 8:32 AM on August 10, 2011


No, it's not a loss for the Democratic Party, but it is a loss for the state workers of Wisconsin, who are exactly where they started.

And would have been if all six Republicans had been defeated, tarred and feathered, and driven into the sea by angry mobs with pitchforks. The law is in effect and nothing is going to change that as long as Walker remains Governor short of the Democrats magically gaining a two-thirds majority in both houses to override his veto.

Honestly, what exactly would you consider a victory here?
posted by Naberius at 8:37 AM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Really? I'm finding that hard to believe, is there any sort of data to back it up.

Really? Prop 13? Where 4.2 million Californians stood up and said "fuck you local government and your so called 'schools' I want a few extra dollars off my property taxes".

There were many different ways the problems that Prop 13 tried to solve could be solved without decimating local government. This one just happened to strike a chord with the temporarily embarrassed millionaire in everyone.

I've recently had the fortune of marrying into a somewhat liberal American extended family. My mother-in-law, the biggest liberal I know next to a sociology professor friend of mine, was disagreeing with me about open-ended unemployment being a good thing.

This is when my cousins-in-law were using their then about to run out 99 week extended UI to pay her for a house she bought because their credit was shot. If they had stopped paying it would have sunk her. And here she was actively railing against her own self-interest simply because of one of her few conservative beliefs about UI.
posted by Talez at 8:41 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking as one of the resident pessimists, I'm perfectly willing to call this a win. A smallish win, not what we needed to stop governor Evil, but a win.

Our chance for a loss happens next week when the Democrats come up for recall. If we can hold there, we're ahead. Not in control, but ahead.

If we lose next week then I'll call it losing. But for now while I'm not going to be dancing in the streets it's still a mild win.
posted by sotonohito at 8:46 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


XQUZYPHYR: "zarq I'm not going to spam the thread so I don't want to keep repeating it and I'll back off after this comment, but saying that it's a loss because they didn't take over the Senate is like saying that I lost because I hit five of the numbers in Powerball and only won $2,000 instead of the hundred-million-dollar jackpot.

And I'm not saying it's a loss. In fact, I've said it was "not a waste" twice now. What I am saying is that telling people to "get over it" is counterproductive and lousy, especially when there don't seem to be many people here who are depicting what happened as a loss.

I'm saying "get over it" because this isn't some kind of "oh just accept that Obama will only give you half of what you want" kind of deal like common arguments that are had here. This isn't about milquetoast Senators or ineffective presidents or traitorous moderates or backroom deals. There weren't bargains or negotiations involved. Democrats just won two elections. That's really it. I simply refuse to be upset about it.

Who is making those arguments?

You seem to be dragging in a hefty amount of baggage into a conversation that has to date barely mentioned the President, has not mentioned Greenwald at all (except for your mention of him) and has also not mentioned traitorous moderates or backroom deals.

I believe you're manufacturing arguments which no one here seems to be making. Mostly, people like enn are discussing whether it was worth the money and effort. And I agree with you that it was.

That this was all done by grassroots activism and devoid of any national party platform prominence is even more significant.

It is. I mentioned as much upthread.

For anyone to suggest that unions don't have incredible power in Wisconsin right now would be either naive or just plain pathetic.

"Right now" is the key phrase here. What is going to happen over the long haul? It's easier to ride an emotional wave of discontent than get people to fight over time.

That Democrats have every right in the world to go rah rah and instead face calls of bullshit for it are why moments like this are rare to begin with.

My point, which you're defensively glossing over, is that the battle isn't over. And we have a long road ahead of us. We've had a reasonable victory against the Koch/Tea Part/Oligarchy machine. Which may be overturned next Tuesday. It's important to be realistic about what this one win means and how it fits into the greater scheme of things. We have two Senate seats that remain in jeopardy and a Republican Senator who seems to be standing up against Walker on principle.

It's amazing that there are 3,000-comment rantfests about how Obama screwing the middle class "isn't that big a deal" but when the Demcrats pick up two state senate seats it's a "disappointment.""

Wanting more isn't wrong. Attacking people for wishing this victory had gone further and been more decisive is ridiculous.
posted by zarq at 8:51 AM on August 10, 2011


Honestly, what exactly would you consider a victory here?

IAssuming this election represents the 'mood of the country', if congressional elections were held today, Democrats would win a landslide majority. And it's only getting worse for the GOP.
posted by empath at 8:52 AM on August 10, 2011


Really? Prop 13? Where 4.2 million Californians stood up and said "fuck you local government and your so called 'schools' I want a few extra dollars off my property taxes".

I thought that was more about having taxes raised and seeing that revenue go to schools outside their district, along with inflation forcing some older people out of their already bound and paid for homes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:54 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


How Wisconsin Election Law Saved The GOP, And Why That Changes In 2012
posted by homunculus at 8:54 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are two fewer Republicans in power than there were yesterday.

Seriously, anyone on the left who is "disappointed" about this: you won. Get over it.


Amen.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:57 AM on August 10, 2011


I thought that was more about having taxes raised and seeing that revenue go to schools outside their district, along with inflation forcing some older people out of their already bound and paid for homes.

There were other ways to accomplish that besides Prop 13. There could have been a tax-credit for senior citizens.

But Prop 13 has been a disaster for local government revenue. Not to mention the legislature keeps having to plug loophole after loophole as corporate interests find new and innovative ways to avoid the property tax "reset".
posted by Talez at 9:02 AM on August 10, 2011


Wanting more isn't wrong. Attacking people for wishing this victory had gone further and been more decisive is ridiculous.

Wishing this victory had gone further is one thing, but wearing sackcloth and ashes is also ridiculous.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:24 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wishing this victory had gone further is one thing, but wearing sackcloth and ashes is also ridiculous.

At least before labor day.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:37 AM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wishing this victory had gone further is one thing, but wearing sackcloth and ashes is also ridiculous.

See: saulgoodman: "Those reports that characterize this as a defeat for Dems? Those reports are politics in action. Spinning events as either victories or defeats is the practice of politics. Modern American Lefties don't understand this very well, and tend to accept as gospel any evidence that their side is losing and/or hopelessly corrupt, regardless of the source, because it confirms their deeply held, core beliefs that all human beings are corruptible and imperfect."

Only one person here has characterized this as a Dem loss. Perhaps two, if you count thorzdad.

I'm simply suggesting we keep what's actually being said and the reality of the situation in perspective.
posted by zarq at 9:42 AM on August 10, 2011


For those curious about process rather than mere result, here's what it takes to get a recall rolling in Wisconsin
posted by IndigoJones at 10:13 AM on August 10, 2011


The Dems failed to do this. That they picked-up two more seats is inconsequential and stands as a classic "won the battle, lost the war" scenario.

Walker and Co. will, rightly or wrongly, see this outcome as a vindication of their efforts and will most likely go for more.


Yeah, I'm sure Walker will find some way to spin his loss of the Governorship when he gets recalled, next year as well.

The amount of bad blood that guy has generated is no joke. And I'll say right now, that if he isn't recalled I'll humor your pessimism regarding a "watershed" in 2012 in the Rights direction, but I think he's going to be out of a job so hard his head is going to spin.

It will be interesting to see what kind of money gets spent on that, and who comes to his aid. It will be very revealing and expose the rot that put him in office quite completely.

Have you seen the lastest CNN poll showing the Tea Party's growing revilement and disapproval numbers?
posted by Skygazer at 10:27 AM on August 10, 2011


Skygazer: " Have you seen the lastest CNN poll showing the Tea Party's growing revilement and disapproval numbers?"

Oh, it's worse than that. That article's from March.
The tea party movement fares slightly worse than the GOP and has its most dismal ratings since CNN began asking about the movement in polls in January 2010. Thirty-one percent said they see it favorably while 51 percent see it unfavorably. In July, those numbers were 37 percent and 47 percent, respectively..
From the pdf, the stats are:
Favorable: 31%
Unfavorable: 51%
Never heard of: 5%
No opinion: 13%

Familiarity breeds contempt.

By comparison:

The Democratic Party
Favorable: 47%
Unfavorable: 47%
Never heard of: -
No opinion: 6%

The Republican Party
Favorable: 33%
Unfavorable: 59%
Never heard of: 1%
No opinion: 7%
posted by zarq at 10:40 AM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Progressive wave batters itself vainly against corrupt corporate money wall.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:43 AM on August 10, 2011


Including irresponsible generalizations about "Modern American Lefties," I see. Almost all of what I'm reading on the left is reserved optimism that this is a step forward.

Fair enough KJS. I actually had a very particular subcategory of the self-identifying American left in mind (in my own analysis, anyone who isn't a rich politically connected bastard is part of the true political left), but I can see that my language didn't make that especially plain. You're right, of course.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:05 AM on August 10, 2011


The amount of bad blood that guy has generated is no joke. And I'll say right now, that if he isn't recalled I'll humor your pessimism regarding a "watershed" in 2012 in the Rights direction, but I think he's going to be out of a job so hard his head is going to spin.

I doubt it.

Look, his policies are objectively terrible, and most of the state thinks they're great. He stood up to the "libtards" in Madison, successfully ended unions in the state, and made those lazy, stupid, lazy, overpaid public workers slightly less overpaid.

And the sky stubbornly refused to collapse.

If you carry Waukesha and the Fox Valley (from Fondy to Green Bay), you win in this state. The Fox Valley is home to the WELS - the Lutheran Synod that was too conservative for Michelle Bachmann and Waukesa county is so republican the sky turns red when you cross the county line.

And that is leaving aside the monstrous amounts of cash Walker's allies will spend.

Walker isn't going anywhere, recall or no.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:06 AM on August 10, 2011


Thanks for pointing here desjardins.
posted by cashman at 11:13 AM on August 10, 2011


his policies are objectively terrible, and most of the state thinks they're great.

Walker's approval rating has been dropping steadily since January, and is currently well below 50%. I remember seeing 37% in July, but can't seem to find the study now.
posted by yomimono at 11:14 AM on August 10, 2011


Ah, here we go, it's the Badger Poll from July (PDF link, Walker question on page 5).
posted by yomimono at 11:18 AM on August 10, 2011


ZarQ: Oh, it's worse than that. That article's from March.

It's so gratifying that the horse crap they pulled over the debt limit overstayed their welcome in a big way. I expect those numbers to go even lower, even while the GOP continues to try and leverage that inchoate inarticulate knuckle-dragging crazypants batshitinsane (that word is so 2008 now isn't it?) energy for 2012.

Slackermagee: Progressive wave batters itself vainly against corrupt corporate money wall.

I swear, for a party that's supposed to pride itself on nuance and forward thinking progress, defeatist Dems determined to distract with their dismal disquisitions on deepening disaster because a win isn't entirely boldly sweeping and who allow the out to lunch Right to set a narrative, destroy their hopes and make them get all worry wartish really brings out the Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in me. Like serious. I want to line them up and smack em around a bit and beat the namby pamby whiny juice out of em.

Chin up people. GIVE ME FIFTY!! RIGHT NOW, WORMS!!
posted by Skygazer at 11:19 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I admit I was feeling disouraged when I learned the results this morning. I went to bed thinking the dems might just have pulled things off. But hey, 2 seats is 2 seats. Thank you, Wisconsin dems and progressives, for fighting a difficult uphill battle against all odds. You rock!

Don't forget - for all the Koch money, dirty tricks, fake candidates, and special interests they had at their disposal, Republicans weren't able to make it this far. They targeted 8 democratic senators and have thusfar failed at 6 out of 6 tries.

Fail: Efforts to recall Mark Miller, Spencer Coggs fall short
Fail: Deadlines pass for campaigns to recall 2 Democrats (Taylor & Risser)
Fail: Sen. Julie Lassa safe as final recall drive fails
Fail: Democrat Retains Wisconsin Senate Seat In Recall (Hansen).

Thanks to many of my fellow mefites for helping to put things in perspective.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:20 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Chin up people. GIVE ME FIFTY!! RIGHT NOW, WORMS!!

Can I get some government assistance?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:21 AM on August 10, 2011


Josh Marshall: Was it worth it?: "...But it's wrong to see political energy and resources as finite and something to be marshaled. It's not a zero sum game. This kind of effort doesn't take away from something else. It adds to it. It builds organizational muscle. In fact, it's like muscle. You build it by exercising it. I don't lose part of my allotment of muscle by doing some bench presses. I build it up. And the exercise itself demonstrates that a political movement can bite back."
posted by madamjujujive at 11:33 AM on August 10, 2011 [13 favorites]


It is a little weird to see an election where the Democrats gained two seats, in Republican leaning districts nonetheless, painted as a defeat for the Democrats. I understand why the national media does it, because they wanted to turn the elections into a referendum to fit into their overall narrative, but coming from other quarters it just seems like post-election spin.

Those Republican state sentators in those districts all survived 2008, a year in which the Republicans suffered otherwise historic losses. According to Nate Silver of 538, Scott Walker won the six districts targeted in the recall by an average of 13 percent. In Tuesday's elections, the Democrats cut that margin to 6 percent, which is in line with Scott Walker's margin in the rest of the state. These are all areas in which Republicans need to run up high margins of victory in order to have a chance in statewide elections. That is probably why Nate tweeted that Democrats would be crazy not to go ahead with their effort to recall Scott Walker.

Reguardless of what happens next week with the other recalls, one would have to resort to nebulous arguments like "momentum" and "narrative" or resort to playing the expectations game in order to portray an election in which the Democrats managed to make signifigant gains amoung the Republican base as anything other than bad for Republicans. I doubt that Republican leaders are privately as confident as their public statements make them out to be, although they fact that they already got much of their agenda enacted must be of some comfort.
posted by eagles123 at 11:48 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not a zero sum game. This kind of effort doesn't take away from something else. It adds to it. It builds organizational muscle.

Yes. The main question should be "What's next?"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:49 AM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


The list of successful recalls of state officials in the U.S. is quite small. The fact that the Wisconsin Dems pulled off two recalls in one night is pretty good.
posted by jonp72 at 11:50 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The lesson of 2006 and 2008 is that fighting in "red" territories where you are an underdog is an investment rather than a liability. You either fight a total war political campaign, or you accept perpetual status as a minority party.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:53 AM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


But it's wrong to see political energy and resources as finite and something to be marshaled. It's not a zero sum game. This kind of effort doesn't take away from something else. It adds to it.

Political energy and resources may not be finite, but they're also not some kind of perpetual motion machine. I mean union money spent on this election can't be spent again. Yes, they can raise more money, but this from Josh Marshall is also spin and speculation, not really hard analysis about what will happen in the next election (which would focus more on possibilities and less on certainties: "This kind of effort won't neccesarily take away from something else. It may add to it.")

The list of successful recalls of state officials in the U.S. is quite small.

Largely because the number of U.S. States that allow recalls is quite small.
posted by Jahaza at 12:05 PM on August 10, 2011


Other interesting things in the study yomimono linked above:

50% of respondants said that the state is worse off under Governor Walker, 28% said it's better, and 18% said no change. They contrast that with numbers for Jim Doyle in 2004-2005, which were generally ~18% worse off, ~14% better, and ~60% the same. I don't know what was going on here then, but people certainly feel more strongly about Walker's performance (I mean, I guess that's obvious).

78% said that Wisconsin's recall option is a good thing, though only 50% said that this summer's recalls made them feel better about the state. I kinda wonder what those numbers would be now. Robin Vos (Republican assemblyperson) announced today that he's drafting a constitutional amendment to require that a recall petition "contain a statement of reason that is related to the official responsibilities of the person being recalled" (apparently already a requirement when recalling local officials; I'm not sure what counts as related). It seems pretty transparently scummy to try to respond to the anger of your constituents by making it harder for them to express their anger, but I guess they've done/tried to do a lot of things that seemed transparently scummy to me.
posted by Vibrissa at 12:10 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jahaza -

No political movement in this country, conservative or progressive, is or was ever 100 hundred percent successful in everything they did. If they were, it meant that they weren't really trying to accomplish anything. If progressives through in the towel after this election, which was a battle fought largely on hostile electoral terrain against an extremely well funded adversary, and despite that, still arguably a victory and not the defeat it is being portrayed as, then they will never be able to accomplish any of the goals they hope to accomplish.

Take comfort in the fact that, as Nate Silver pointed out, progressives managed to cut in half Republican advantages in areas that they must win very comfortably in order to win statewide office. Build on that achievement since, especially in a Presidential election year where turnout in Democratic leaning areas will be higher, the loss of Republican support in areas that need to be their base will give the Democrats a good chance of unseating Scott Walker.
posted by eagles123 at 12:43 PM on August 10, 2011


GIVE ME FIFTY!! RIGHT NOW, WORMS!!

Brandon Blather: Can I get some government assistance?


Private Joker, I presume?
posted by Skygazer at 12:52 PM on August 10, 2011


Campaign dollars and volunteer hours are not a zero-sum game, they're a renewable resource that must be cultivated and tended. And the way you cultivate that is by engaging in the political battles that people care about, not running away from them.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:53 PM on August 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Statement of reason? "Scott Walker is a big ol' poopyhead and I don't like him"

WTF? Do you think a recall effort just goes plodding ahead with lots of money for no particular reason? What a waste.
posted by symbioid at 1:14 PM on August 10, 2011


eagles123, I'm pleased that my comments have come off as even-handed enough (as I've tried to make them) that they haven't left it obvious what my political orientation is (i.e. I don't take comfort in Republican advantages being cut.)

There's some sense in which this was clearly a victory for the Democrats (two less GOP state senators). Others in which it was a victory for the GOP (they've held on to power). To the extent were trying to impartially analyze the outcome, I think it's probably best to recognize that there's no clear overall victory and to try and restrain ourselves from spinning it one way or the other. Obviously those who are trying to gin up support on either side will have a different role to play.
posted by Jahaza at 1:14 PM on August 10, 2011


Private Joker, I presume?

Sir! Private smartass/court jester, Sir!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:45 PM on August 10, 2011


The real problem is that when the Left wins more than 50%, they act as if they barely squeaked in, but when the Right does, they act like they have a mandate. In the US, at least, it seems like the people don't care what things you actually do so long as you just Get Things Done.

Why does it matter if they act if they have a mandate? Why does their attitude mean a thing?

The only reason I can think of is, by believing you have a mandate, you're more likely to make strong decisions that, if the mandate isn't reflected in reality, will hurt your reelection chances in the next cycle.

I don't get the attitude of so many here that this was a defeat for the Democrats. Before they were three votes behind; now they are only one, and as XQUZYPHYR said, this is unprecedented. I don't see how Thorzdad can possibly say this proves the country is taking a huge swing rightward, that seems a ludicrous take-away point, considering these same people voted those Republicans in previously. So the legislature didn't flip; considering that it's not an election cycle, it's amazing this happened at all, and still signals great dissatisfaction from the Wisconsin electorate.
posted by JHarris at 2:14 PM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


There was the will among the rank and file to do much, much more, and it was intentionally shut down by the union leaderships and the Democratic Party establishment in favor of putting that will toward this doomed recall effort.

Salient points: Under Hortonville and other USSC opinions, school districts and other public entities have the right to fire striking public workers.

Note that even during the Hortonville dispute, a statewide vote on a strike only got a thumbs-up from 20% of the locals.

Under US federal law, calling for a general strike is illegal.

The supposed interest in a strike is belied by the fact that not one single teachers' local has gone on strike against the new terms.

I know that around here there were certainly teachers hungry for a strike (or, perhaps more accurately, fat enough for one) -- but even they didn't seem to think one was likely.

So not only would a strike have been ineffectual -- only temporarily hobbling individual districts -- it would have been even more devastating than the cuts, and another opportunity for Walker to re-enact his fantasy of recapitulating Reagan.
posted by dhartung at 5:01 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do you think a recall effort just goes plodding ahead with lots of money for no particular reason?

Yes.
posted by smithsmith at 8:28 PM on August 10, 2011


Wisconsin Dems Stand By Plan To Recall Walker
posted by Jpfed at 9:08 PM on August 10, 2011


Under US federal law, calling for a general strike is illegal.

...Which has got to change. As in most of Europe, American workers should enjoy an unqualified right to organize and strike. And wouldn't it be ironic if it eventually took a general strike to make it so?
posted by saulgoodman at 6:35 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who would they arrest? Everyone? Only the people who called it? What if it was Anonymous?
posted by desjardins at 7:10 AM on August 11, 2011


@JHarris "Why does it matter if they act if they have a mandate? Why does their attitude mean a thing?"

Because "act as if they had a mandate" means they immediately and aggressively begin attempting to implement their more radical ideas. Bush stole the 2000 election and once in office began pressing for huge tax cuts for the rich.

Obama was elected honestly, and swept into office with a supermajority in the Senate and a majority in the House. He immediately began compromising with himself, never even trying for the bigger, bolder, things, and generally acted as if he was in the White House on sufferance and didn't dare make any waves.

Attitude matters because it determines what range of actions an individual or group will consider taking. The Republicans, partially emboldened by the constant refrain from all sides that America is an essentially conservative nation, always behave as if they had the Mandate of Heaven on their side and that there is not, and can never be, any doubt as to the legitimacy of their hold on power, or the extent to which they will use that power to advance their own ideological agenda. Despite having to deal with a Democratic congress Bush managed to push through massive tax cuts basically due to his attitude of rulership.

The Democrats, by contrast, also seem to believe that America is an inherently conservative nation (unsurprising given the prevalence of Democrats repeating that like a mantra) and behave as if their time in power is a strange accident and that their power will be revoked if they draw attention to themselves. They act, therefore, in a cautious, cowardly, way and do not try bold or aggressive tactics in the pursuit of their own ideological goals.

Attitude from those in office helps shape attitude in the electorate. It's hardly the only factor, but it is a factor that can't be denied.

When Democrats act as if liberal agendas (even those supported by a majority of the populous) are never acceptable and thus the populous (even when supporting those agendas) comes to believe it.

Attitude matters. It isn't the only thing that matters, but it does matter.
posted by sotonohito at 8:13 AM on August 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


Under US federal law, calling for a general strike is illegal.

It's not illegal in the sense that you'll go to jail for it or get fined, general strikes are illegal in the sense that they aren't protected activities in the way that regular strikes are, and you can be fired for participating in them.

If a real general strike were to kick off and be maintained, protections can be bargained for. All the same, it's a revolutionary, desperate act, and you better be damn sure you're going to win if you try it.
posted by empath at 8:14 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


general strikes are illegal in the sense that they aren't protected activities in the way that regular strikes are, and you can be fired for participating in them

It depends, federal employees who strike are guilty of a crime (18 USC 1918).
posted by Jahaza at 10:22 AM on August 11, 2011


Surprised no one has mentioned the recall election today. Two democrats are defending their seats - Holperin and Wirch. Holperin faces a Tea Party candidate. If the recalls succeed, then the democrats are right where they were (numbers-wise) before summer started.
posted by desjardins at 8:26 AM on August 16, 2011


The odds of the Democrats losing either of those seats are pretty low. Not impossible, but low.
posted by sotonohito at 11:12 AM on August 16, 2011


The Republicans are handed a stunning defeat as both attempts to recall Democratic Senators failed.

I have a feeling that that won't be the headline.
posted by empath at 8:52 PM on August 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


The story seems to be more "Democrats won/survived" and less "Republicans lost." All emphases mine:

Democrats hold seats in Wisconsin recall elections (which starts with "Two Wisconsin Democratic state senators beat back Republican challengers...")
Two Democrats Survive Recall in Wisconsin
Democrats sweep final two recall elections in Wisconsin
posted by desjardins at 1:10 PM on August 17, 2011


« Older "For the Germans the euro isn’t just a currency. I...  |  On July 23, 1920, Charles Ponz... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments