I was going to try avoid writing about this, but I am seeing some rather silly stuff being written about this win; So, I thought I would offer my thoughts as a former Democratic Party voter. Update: Greg Sargent over at The Washington Post hits the post a bit, but fails, as most progressives do; to see the full picture.
Putting it plain and simple, The Democrats in Wisconsin picked a fight that they could not win. — They were outspent, out-organized, and out-boxed; the Democrats had zero chance of winning this recall election at all. But yet, they still decided to fight for a recall election. They should have taken their cues from Michigan and left well enough alone. The Democrats in Michigan tried unsuccessfully to get Governor Snyder recalled here twice and both times they failed horribly. This is because residents of Michigan knew that the former Governor of Michigan was a incompetent moron who could not Govern worth a damn and they did not want a Democrat back in office again. Thus, the Democrats wisely dropped the issue and decided to try and win the 2012 election. Wisconsin should have followed their lead, but they did not and decided to try and force their hand and failed.
Mother Jones has some good ideas as well:
1) Campaign Money is King
Walker crushed his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, in the political money wars. The governor raised $30.5 million while Barrett pulled in $3.9 million—a nearly 8-to-1 advantage in candidate fundraising. Walker banked on in- and out-of-state donors, including heavyweight GOP contributors such as Houston homebuilder Bob Perry and Amway heir Dick Devos. Walker was able to raise so much money because of a quirk in state law that lets candidates potentially facing a recall raise unlimited funds for their defense. (The normal limit for individual donors in $10,000.) Barrett did not get to raise unlimited funds in his recall campaign—which placed him at a great disadvantage.
All that money helped Walker pound Barrett in the ad wars. An analysis by Hotline On Call found that Walker and his GOP allies outspent Barrett and his backers 3-to-1 on TV ad buys in the three months before Tuesday’s recall. The dark-money-peddling Republican Governors Association itself spent $9.4 million to keep Walker in office.
Just as the political money advantage proved crucial to labor’s win last year in repealing Ohio’s anti-union SB 5 law, campaign cash appears to have played a pivotal role in the GOP’s Wisconsin wins .
2) The Candidate
Filing nearly one million signatures to trigger a recall election, Democrats and union leaders and members had their sights trained on the governor. The recall election’s Democratic primary forced them to take their eyes off the prize. A primary fight between Barrett and former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk splintered the labor movement. The major unions endorsed Falk early on, sometimes over the opposition of their own rank-and-file. Several other unions held out until late March, when Barrett entered the race, and then endorsed the mayor. This primary drama knocked the anti-Walker effort off course for weeks, if not a month, in a race where every single day counts. It divided a unified movement into Barrett supporters and Falk supporters.
3) No New Ground
Democrats and labor unions touted their massive get-out-the-vote operation, which was supposed to tip the scales in their favor. Turn-out was way up in the elections, at 2.4 million, but the left failed to win over the types of people who elected Walker in 2010. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinelnotes, Walker’s Tuesday win is a mirror image of his 2010 victory—just with more voters. He won men and lost women; won independents and lost moderates; and won suburban and rural voters but not urban voters.
More notably, Walker won 38 percent of votes from union households—an increase of 1 percent from 2010. Remember, union members or their spouses didn’t know in 2012 that Walker planned to target them after the election with his anti-union “budget repair” bill curbing collective bargaining rights. Yet 16 months after Walker launched his attack on unions, just as many people in union households voted for him. The unions failed to rally their own ranks.
My thoughts on the Unions — One of the main reasons why the unions failed; not because of a lack of members or money. The unions failed because for the following:
- They over played their hand, by storming the capital building and occupying it. This made them look like total buffoons in the eyes of the people, not mention the heavy handed tactics that were on par with communist gulags.
- The second reason is a rather simple one; not all union members are on board with the progressive movement, just because someone has a union card, does not necessarily make him a Democrat. Some union members are free thinkers and some of them resent being culled in together with the socialist crowd.
- The last reason is this; some union members are just not happy with the Democratic Party and with Obama. I believe Obama fatigue played a big part in the loss in Wisconsin. I believe it will also play out in November as well.
Needless to say, Scott Walker won big and the Unions and Democrats lost big. The results of this will be far-reaching and the Democrats in Wisconsin would be wise to lay low and try to hang on in 2012. But if they do not, they should learn the lessons of the massive over-reach that took place in Wisconsin and with the Democratic Party as a whole. However, knowing Democrats like I do; they will not learn a thing from this.