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Outside money.

I really can’t see any other way that we lost so badly in Wisconsin last night.  Based on the returns I have seen, Barrett actually fell one percentage point from 2010, losing to Walker by around 7%.  You’re going to hear the GOP pundits spin this today, and well they should.  Had we won (which I never really saw as a possibility), we’d be spinning it hard as well.  But that’s really of no consequence at this point.  Let’s look at some facts.

The good news is that new registrants went for Barrett handily.  That likely means that we have more Democrats registered in Wisconsin than we did in 2010, so we can at least be thankful for that.  But that’s about where the good news ends.  The GOP outspent us 8 to 1.  8 to 1.  One more time for emphasis.  8 to 1.  And what did that get them?

17% of people that intend to vote for Obama this November voted for Scott Walker.  That’s nearly a fifth of already decided Obama voters, not even counting undecideds.  That’s a joke.  What’s worse is that somewhere above a third of uni0n households went for Walker.  You remember, those households that have been effed over by Scott Walker.

Frankly, it’s hard for me to mentally fathom this reality.  There’s frankly only a few possible explanations.  One is that (and I guess there is some statistical evidence of this) some people just don’t like the idea of recalls (I read one statistic saying 5% of voters).  But that doesn’t really make up for it all.  This is about millions and millions of dollars of outside spending.  Beyond the fact that Walker just had more cash on hand, Republicans had somewhere north of $45 million to spend on this election, while we had much less.

As much as I will be yelled at for saying this, I was never a big fan of recalling Scott Walker, especially when it seemed early on that the chance of success was only around 50%.  The Republicans will now continue the narrative that Walker has a public mandate, that people outside Wisconsin don’t understand, and what not.  And Walker himself will use this victory to push through even more radical legislation, because he can’t be touched for two more years, and he probably thinks that he’s invincible.  Today doesn’t feel great to be a Democrat.


10 Responses to Why We Lost

  1. JMPrince says:

    The professional rebuttal to that precious thought from Paul Begala:

    “Paul Begala Offers Fighting Lessons for Liberals After Wisconsin
    by Paul Begala Jun 11, 2012”

    The spending is hard to assess as we do not really know the extent of it. The actual totals may be better known in 6mo, or never. But the anti-Walker forces were easily, wildly and quite lavishly outspent by any sort of accounting. That matters. It mattered greatly in the crucial ad/messaging war. So does losing ~36%(!) of the Union vote. So sure, it’s a chronicle of a losing cause foretold. But sometimes you’ve got to fight those battles too. And come away with some minor crumbs like the WI Senate, BTW. JMP

  2. ire says:

    Ok, so the post-mortems keep flowing (why, exactly?) and the 8-1 figure is slightly misleading but whatever, people are going to perpetually blame any losses on “Republican billionaires buying elections” so whatever. With the primary the final figure was 4-1 which while substantial is not the insurmountable figure you presented.

    Also, side note, if you can’t settle your shit without a primary and then choose the candidate who just lost to run against Walker because your upset he fulfilled campaign promises… you’re not going to win.

  3. Drew says:

    If you think Walker would have had different plans absent the recall, then I think you’re the one ignoring the facts: he was a radical before and he remains one now.

    Your argument seems to be that if Democrats had not fought back against his radicalism – as they would have had they not attempted to recall him – he would have been less radical. That if they had not defeated legislators who enabled his radicalism, he would have been less radical. That makes absolutely no sense.

    As for the Senate, Walker has called special sessions in he past to pass his radical bills. Had the Republicans kept their majority, he would have done it again, and passed even more radical legislation. That will be more difficult now.

    The simple fact is that winning the state Senate recalls substantially curtailed Walker’s power; if Wisconsin Democrats had followed the advice of the timid Democrats here, Walker probably would have passed the anti-gay and anti-worker legislation you allude to above.

    Furthermore, and I don’t see how it is a “hollow” victory to enter an election with more incumbents; it’s an advantage, and the recalls made it happen.

    As for money, Republican spent far more than Democrats, which by your logic leaves them with even less to spend and even more damaged.

    That being said, I don’t buy that more money raised now will mean less money raised later. I’ve heard that argument before, and yet no matter how much the last election raised, it never seems to reduce the amount the next election does. As I see it, those who contributed to the recall would not have contributed otherwise, and thus there will be no reduction in the money available to spend in November.

  4. Drew says:

    I know it isn’t BFD if there isn’t someone saying that anything more innovative than an infographic is stupid, so I shouldn’t be surprised by the tone of the comments.

    But the recalls were a good idea. They won the Democrats the state Senate and, had the election been held a few months earlier, might have won the Democrats the governorship.

    I don’t like to lose, but it’s worth remembering that had the Democrats not attempted to recall Walker, the outcome would have been EXACTLY THE SAME: Walker would be governor.

    As for this:

    “The Republicans will now continue the narrative that Walker has a public mandate, that people outside Wisconsin don’t understand, and what not. And Walker himself will use this victory to push through even more radical legislation, because he can’t be touched for two more years, and he probably thinks that he’s invincible.”

    I know that junkies love “narrative”, but the more I see the less I care about “narrative”. Republicans offered the same narrative following their 2004 victory: Republicans have a mandate, Republicans are invincible. Over the next two years, they did nothing, then lost big. So much for the power of narrative.

    Meanwhile, because of the recalls – and contrary to the narrative – the Republicans lost control of half of the state legislature, and those that remain are on notice: vote wrong, and you may keep your seat, but you’ll have to fight for it.

    • Steve says:

      But the problem is that you ignore a number of important facts.

      First off, the recalls were not a few months ago. They were Tuesday, and despite the fact that polls showed a 50% split, Walker still won by about 7 points. And I stand firm in saying that, had the election been a few months ago, it would have turned out exactly the same because of the outside money spent.

      As for the Senate, it’s a hollow victory. We have control of the Senate…until November, when there’s another election. And the Senate is in recess until then. So the fact that we picked up a seat is nice, but it’s really not as if we stopped anything in its tracks.

      To be honest, I’d like to have seen those millions of our Democratic dollars go into the many 2012 races that are not recalls, and are frankly more monumental, for example the big Presidential election. Or even save some of that money up for 2014, when we’re going to have to fight Walker all over again.

      Finally, my point was far less about the narrative itself, and more about what they will do with the story. It’s just days after, and an emboldened Walker is apparently (according to some news stories I’ve seen) even more determined to strip worker’s rights, LGBT rights (I read something about adoptions), and women’s rights. THAT’S the big problem, not the talking heads.

  5. Boohunney says:

    Wasn’t hard to predict Barrett was going to lose.
    I knew all the Fog Horn Leghorns down here were going to strut and crow like they won the Sugar Bowl.
    One thing did strike me as unusual in this recall campaign; there was little seen of “Tea Party” activists and other astroturfers. I guess the corporate interests didn’t need them this time around to cloak their financial support and to steer the dialogue. The out of state corporate interests pretty much paraded it out there in the wide open.
    I guess Dick Armey is pissed he didn’t get his cut.

  6. ire says:

    Here’s why Democrats lost: It was a stupid idea and shouldn’t have been done in the first place.

    The end.

  7. Trevor Southerland says:

    Obama will win Wisconsin. You heard it here first. 🙂

  8. griftdrift says:

    If you’re going to shoot the king, don’t miss