President Obama wasn’t on the ballot in Wisconsin, but Gov. Scott Walker’s decisive victory in last night’s gubernatorial recall is a stinging blow to his re-election prospects.
The re-election was a telltale sign that the conservative base is energized, that Democratic voter mobilization efforts may not be as stellar as advertised, and that the Democratic-leaning “blue wall” Rust Belt states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania will be very much in play this November.
Walker won by a bigger margin than he did in 2010, and with more overall votes. He carried 38 percent of union households, strikingly strong given that he’s been cast as the villain to labor.
Obama’s team is taking consolation in the fact that exit polling showed him leading Mitt Romney, 51 to 44 percent. But that’s hardly good news: with near-presidential level turnout (and notably higher union turnout), Obama is running five points behind his 2008 performance. Replicate that drop across the board, and all the battleground states flip to Romney.
For all of Obama’s political talent, he’s been a major drag on his party since taking office. In 2009, Republicans won hotly-contested gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey. During the heat of the health care debate in 2010, Scott Brown picked up Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in deep blue Massachusetts. Later that year, Republicans regained control of the House and picked up six Senate seats.
And now, Walker wins the recall by a bigger margin than in the 2010 election – which was already a watershed year for Wisconsin Republicans. It suggests that something has to change fast for Obama to avoid the fate of his party colleagues come November.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
WISCONSIN RECALL REPORT
How Wisconsin Could Reset the Electoral College Map
[National Journal, 6/6/12] Wisconsin’s most important message for November may be that Democrats continue to face enormous difficulty among blue-collar whites. That will increase the pressure on the president (and his party, in Congressional races) to maximize their gains this fall in states where those blue-collar whites dominate the electorate, as they do in Wisconsin.
Walker's Wisconsin Recall Win Built on GOP Unity, Energy
[National Journal, 6/5/12] In a race that pitted each party’s political base against the other, Gov. Scott Walker won the Wisconsin recall on Tuesday because he did the better job of unifying his party and mobilizing his supporters.
Wisconsin Exit Polls: Voters Like Obama, Don't Like Recalls
[National Journal, 6/6/12] The voters who chose to stick with Walker narrowly support President Obama, giving him a lead over Romney, 51 percent to 44 percent, exit polls show.
Wisconsin Recall: The Biggest Losers
[Politico, 6/6/12] Democrats, Obama, public unions, conservative critics and money monks were the losers in last night's contest, not just Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Using quotes from iconic Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, Politico explains what happened.
Why Scott Walker Won the Wisconsin Recall
[Washington Post, 6/5/12] Rather than the "what" of the Wisconsin recall election, the Washington Post attempts to answer the "why": Why did Walker win? The Post's Chris Cillizza chalks it up to the Democratic primary, the amount of money spent, Walker's skill at campaigning and Barrett's connection to Milwaukee.
GOP's Voter Outreach Could Pay Off in November
[Wall Street Journal, 6/5/12] Gerald Seib writes that the Wisconsin Republican Party made four million contacts with voters during the recall campaign, connections that could play a pivotal role in turning voters out to the polls in November.
Governors’ Races Can Be a Contrary Indicator for Presidential Elections
[New York Times, 6/5/12] Though most pundits are looking at the Wisconsin recall for hints of what's to come in November, Nate Silver argues that, historically, gubernatorial races can actually have a negative correlation with what happens in states during the presidential races.
NEWS FROM THE TRAIL
Split of Popular and Electoral Vote Could Favor Obama in November
[National Journal, 6/6/12] National Journal’s Matthew Dowd posits that in November, Romney could win the popular vote by over 1 million votes but lose the Electoral College to Obama by a margin of 272 to 266. Dowd compares this scenario to the 2000 presidential election controversy.
Romney Sweeps Five States' Primaries
[Associated Press, 6/5/12] Lost amid all the Wisconsin hullabaloo: Romney swept five primaries in Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota and California on Tuesday. He already has exceeded the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.
Arizona Provides Next Bellwether
[National Journal, 6/6/12] This special election provides a major test of the emerging congressional Democratic message for 2012: Republicans have become beholden to the tea party and want to decimate the social safety net through cuts to entitlements like Medicare and Social Security.
Romney Woos Hispanics Over Economy
[The Hill, 6/5/12] Even though he badly trails in the demographic, Romney is using Hispanics’ double-digit unemployment rate to argue that the key voting bloc should support him instead of Obama.
Jeb Bush On Being VP: ‘Under No Circumstances’
[CBS, 6/6/12] Jeb Bush, former Florida governor and brother of George W., told CBS in an interview that will air Thursday morning that “under no circumstances” would he consider the veep slot on a Romney ticket, and that he’d turn down Romney if he asked.
Someone Hacked Into Romney’s Private Email
[Gawker, 6/5/12] After emails from Romney’s gubernatorial days were released to the Wall Street Journal, firstname.lastname@example.org was revealed to the world. It was only a matter of time before it got hacked. The security question: What’s your favorite pet?
Romney’s VP Balancing Act
[The Hill, 6/6/12] Romney's first month of general election campaigning has revealed a remarkably fierce competitor, indicating he might be looking to find an equally combative running mate to take up attacks he's already launching against Obama.
Romney Critical Of Government Aid That Helped Bain Profit
[Bloomberg, 6/5/12] Many companies owned by Bain Capital when Romney was chief executive received state and local government aid -- the very programs Romney has criticized during his run.
How One Mill Thrived, One Failed After Bain Invested
[Boston Globe, 6/5/12] Bain got involved in two steel plants -- GS Industries in Kansas City, Mo. and Steel Dynamics in Butler, Ind. The former went bankrupt, but the latter prospered, revealing the complexity to the Bain issue that's often lost in partisan attacks.