Monday, June 4, 2012

Moral Victories

Just a quick note regarding tomorrow's festivities:

There is no such thing as a "moral victory" in elections--you either win or go the hell home--and chances are that most of the commentary you're going to read in the next week will reflect that. Regardless of how much Scott Walker wins by tomorrow, you'll likely hear how catastrophic the recall was for Dems. There will, of course, be some truth to that strain of thought, but here are some things to consider:

1.) Recalls laws in Wisconsin give huge advantages to incumbents. We can debate the justness of these advantages until the cows come home, but there's little denying they exist, and do so in an outlandishly over-sized proportion to the normal advantages incumbents get during conventionally scheduled elections.

2.) The largest of these advantages is the unlimited fundraising loophole that Walker took full advantage of. Good for him. We won't know for a few more weeks, but it's possible that Walker could have out-raised and/or outspent Barrett something in the order of 20:1. Usually, when one sees a money discrepancy that large the race is between a safe incumbent and a sacrificial lamb--a race that's deemed "uncontested." In this respect, anything less than a blowout on Walker's part is very much defeat. A minor one, but still a defeat.

3.) It's likely that if Walker wins tomorrow, he'll do so by a margin smaller than the one he won by in 2010. If the only poll that really matter is the one taken on Election Day, then that's a measurable step backward for Walker.

4.) Walker went all in for this race. A few weeks from now his "30,000+ job created" gambit might look pretty embarrassing for a variety of reasons. Renewing his pledge to create 250,000 jobs by the end of his first term was likely a move to satisfy a short-term need at the expense of a long-term interest.

5.) Walker will spend the rest of his tenure working without a net. He will have no margin for error. If he's indicted for election shenanigans in the County exec's office he might only lose 2-3% of the moderate Republicans that will support him during the recall, but that will be enough to sink him.

6.) The Wisconsin GOP deserves a great deal of credit for preserving their man in the middle of this shitstorm. Wisconsin is likely the best organized state in the midwest for conservatives. They called for all hands on deck and they got it. On a any given day, they are likely better organized then their Dem counterparts and this gap is only likely to get wider during the next decade (between redistricting and the neutering of union strength). Let's face it: Republicans are better at doing the hard work of herding their own cats, while Dems in Wisconsin would much rather schedule sing-a-longs in the Capitol, hold neon signs over freeways and put on yet another benefit concert at the High Noon Salon. If Democrats can convince their people to spend time making phone calls and/or visiting neighbors instead of doing the job of a sign post, they'll be in business. 

7.) The most interesting race tomorrow is the Racine state senate race. If Van Wwaannggaarrdd (spelling?) loses, that'll really be a turd in Walker's punch bowl.

8.) The last pro-Walker WMC ad I saw on TV--which apparently sucked such a huge bowl of goats' balls that no one bothered to put it online--had some of the worst production values of any political ad I've ever seen. Were I a member of this group that supposedly represents "business" I would be outraged that they spent my money on such a shitty product. Honestly, it was on par with the Hari Trevedi ad; maybe even worse.

9.) Believe it or not, this is not the most contentious the state of Wisconsin has ever been. Very early in our state's existence there was an honest-to-God real constitutional crisis that was the functional equivalent of today + Florida 2000 ...  and yet I haven't seen a single newspaper article in the last 16 months about the great Barstow/Bashford clusterfuck of 1855. Usually digging into our past and finding a worse example of today's polarization is a pretty routine way to create some copy for any journalist, but apparently not one reporter in the state of Wisconsin bothered to even look. 

SPOILER ALERT: Both men were supremely corrupt assholes (one of whom was "from" Oshkosh!) who got away with far more than Scott Walker could even contemplate getting away with today. That's what I call progress. Forward, bitches. Forward.

No comments: