Wisconsin Recall Results–What do they Mean?

The Democrats and the Unions tried to unseat Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a special recall election because they felt that he was attacking public employees (like teachers) by undermining their ability to engage in collective bargaining. Earlier, Democrat legislators had temporarily fled the state to try to stall voting on some of the measures Walker eventually signed.

Walker’s supporters say he is being fiscally responsible in troubled economic times. He is standing up to powerful Unions bosses (bullies) to protect the rest of Wisconsin’s taxpayers. Critics say he is Hitler, and he wants to ruin America.

What did the voters say? Well, they re-elected him by 7%, which is about the same advantage that Barack Obama had over John McCain in 2008. Democrats and media liberals are saying that Walker only won because he drastically outspent his opponent thanks to out-of-state donations. Republicans and conservatives in the media are saying Walker played by the rules in a recall election that Democrats forced on him, and besides the mainstream media and Wisconsin Unions were aiding the Democrats against him.

What does it mean? Probably more than Democrats want to admit, but less than Republicans hope. After demonizing the guy for a year, Democrats should not try to claim that his victory was won with propaganda. Both sides got their version of the message out, and the voters made their own choice.

On the other hand, Republicans shouldn’t try to frame this as part of a national repudiation of President Obama’s view of government and the economy (the Obanomy? the Obamanomy? Obamanomics? never mind). By November, voters will have more things on their minds than union benefits vs. government budgets. Here are just three possibilities: 1. The price of gas, 2. Unemployment figures, and 3. Iran’s nuclear program and Israel’s response to it.

It makes sense that Mitt Romney would want to publicly comment on a Republican victory, just as in retrospect it looks shrewd of the President to keep himself away from a Democrat defeat, and both sides should listen to the message sent by the voters. But there will still be a lot of ups and downs between now and November.