Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker easily survived the recall, but Democrats recovered control of the State Senate. (More)
Nutshell: Wisconsin Recall Results
Despite tightening polls in the final days and early exit polls suggesting a 50-50 deadlock, last night Gov. Scott Walker cruised to a 7-point victory in Wisconsin recall election. Up to 12% of voters cast their ballots before election day, and were not reflected in the exit polling.
The lone bright spot was State Senate District 21, where Democratic challenger John Lehman appears to have defeated Republican Van Wanggaard. The final tally was very close, with only 771 votes separating them. Wanggaard has not yet conceded, but Democrats will have a one-seat majority in the Wisconsin Senate if that result holds.
In his victory speech, Gov. Walker admitted that last year he pushed through an agenda he had not discussed with voters:
I’ve learned much over the last year and a half. There’s no doubt about it. You know, early in 2011 I rushed in to try to fix things, before I talked about them. Because you see, for years too many politicians I had seen, not only in Madison but in Washington and beyond, talked about things but never fixed them.
Well, but I want to tell you looking ahead, we know it’s important to do both. Looking ahead to tackle the challenges that face all of the people of Wisconsin, we’re both going to be committed to talking together about how to solve problems. And then working together, we’re going to move forward with the solutions that put our state back on the right track towards more freedom and more prosperity for all of our people.
Governor Walker outspent his opponent by almost 10-1 and money certainly played a role in the outcome, but the Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza offers additional reasons for Barrett’s defeat, including a hotly-contested Democratic primary, swing voters opposing the recall, other Wisconsinites’ fears and resentments of the city of Milwaukee, and Gov. Walker’s disciplined and effective campaign.
Yet the Walker success in defeating Barrett and Democrats’ attempt to unseat him may be rooted in voters’ unwillingness to remove a sitting officeholder for political reasons. Just 27 percent of voters said recall elections are appropriate for any reason; Barrett won this bloc 9-to-1. But the vast majority – 60 percent – said recall elections are only appropriate for “official misconduct,” and more than two-thirds of these voters supported Walker.
Although voter turnout was high, it was nowhere near the over-100% levels reported yesterday. Greater than 100% turnout was possible as Wisconsin allows same-day registration. Initial reports of 119% projected turnout in Madison were based on exceptionally heavy turnout early in the day.
The failure to recall Gov. Walker was obviously a defeat, but DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the recall effort “sent a message” and emphasized that President Obama still leads Mitt Romney in every Wisconsin poll, including a 7-point lead in yesterday’s exit polls.
But RNC Chair Reince Priebus was quick to blame President Obama for Barrett’s defeat, saying: “Wisconsin Democrats will now look to President Obama and ask, ‘Why did you abandon us?’ Let the infighting begin.”
The exit poll data suggest President Obama’s presence in Wisconsin would not have helped, as 93% of voters said they had made up their minds long before the election.
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