Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wisconsin Recall Preview

Originally published in Red Racing Horses.


Previews will be split into two groups today: previews of the recall elections in Wisconsin in one post and the other primary contests in the other.

Wisconsin Governor


Turnout looks to be strong, set to exceed 2010 although not approaching the record levels seen in 2008. The Government Accountbility Board anticipates 60-65% turnout, up from 50% in the 2010 gubernatorial race but down from 69% in 2008. Turnout is high in both Dane (as high as 75%) and Milwaukee counties, Barrett strongholds. Nevertheless, Republican stronghold Waukesha also has strong turnout. While unions and Democratic activists are passionate about their cause and have conducted huge amounts of canvassing, the Wisconsin GOP phonebank operation, with outside assistance from Americans for Prosperity and the RGA, should minimize any turnout edge for Democrats.Walker has consistently polled at or just below 50%, giving him the decisive edge in this contest.

Barrett has to do well among a number of groups: women, union households, Milwaukee and Dane County, youth and minority voters. These groups are anticipated to vote for Barrett by large margins, but turnout is the big question- excepting Dane County, some of these constituencies don't have the best turnout in non-presidential elections. Same-day registration helps with the youth vote (now home from college).

Walker has to build  his margins and turn out loyalists in Waukesha, which appears to be happening. Northern Wisconsin is also strong for him, as are large chunks of the Milwaukee suburbs.
Independent Hari Trivedi's support should be nonexistent. Expect 1% and little impact.


Both sides are already building their narrative to explain defeat. There are a variety of fears about fraud. Republicans are angry about letters sent by a group allied to the recall effort listing which years neighbors voted in, which some felt was an invasion of privacy (though all public information). Liberals, meanwhile, are complaining about robocalls of unknown origin telling voters that if they signed the petition to recall Walker, they do not need to bother to vote. Others are focused on Waukesha County, where in a recent state Supreme Court race reporting of results was haphazard. All of these perceived instances of fraud and malfeasance will be focused on by whoever emerges the loser.

Beyond this, both sides have hired numerous lawyers in preparation for a recount- a wise idea with such a (nearly) evenly polarized contest.

Other races

Lieutenant Governor

Ther are also four state senators and the Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch up for recall. In general, the Lieutenant Governor, who faces the head of the state firefighters' union, is not anticipated to face a different fate than Walker- there is little reason to anticipate strategic voters splitting their gubernatorial tickets.

State Senate

In the State Senate, three of the four races are projected to be won by Republicans, with a fourth more or less tossup. SD 13 and 29 should be relatively safe. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has received a pass in 13, with little outside help going to Democratic nominee and activist Lori Compas. Nevertheless, Compas has run a strong effort independent of such help, which will at least help the Barrett effort. In 29, Democratic nominee Donna Seidel has been more disappointing, failing to gain traction against Republican nominee Jerry Petrowski.

In 23, incumbent Terry Moulton (R) faces Democrat Kristen Dexter, who defeated Moulton in a State Assembly seat in 2008. The race is more competitive than 29 or 13, but Moulton has the edge.
21 is the most difficult race to predict, incumbent State Senator Van Wanggaard (I am not looking forward to typing that name over and over tonight) faces Democrat John Lehman. Over $1 million has been spent in this race in traditionally swingy Racine. Polling from PPP has shown the race to be in a dead-heat.

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