Sunday, December 11th, 2016

Recall backfire bomber

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Joshua Spivak in the Politico writes about how the recall effort may have been a big mistake for Democrats:

But, with the possibility of losing the governor’s mansion, the Republicans are now unquestionably motivated. We saw their strong support come out on the primary day. Walker was facing only token opposition, yet he received 626,000 votes — almost as much as all the candidates in the closely contested Democratic primary.

There is no reason to believe that the recall election is over — despite polls showing Walker in the lead, it remains close. However, regardless of who wins, we may see the possible blowback effect — it can energize the other side.

Republicans have flooded Wisconsin with donations. State law allows unlimited donations to Walker, and outside advocacy groups responded. This recall will likely be the second-most expensive election in the country after the presidency.

Equally important, it has helped Republicans get in shape for November. From a logistical point of view, the GOP has updated its databases and tested out its party voter turnout machine right before the presidential race gears up — at no cost to Mitt Romney’s campaign.

The recall could also help in two other ways. Generally, a sitting official’s argument that a recall is a waste of public funds is not a strong defense. This may be because recalls are frequently blowouts — one way or the other. Or because it seems like a desperate “change-the-subject move” by the official facing the recall. So saying a recall is a waste of money doesn’t matter when nearly 90 percent of the voters hate your guts — as happened to the Miami-Dade mayor.

When the recall is close, however, this sort of defense can be a good way to capture the attention of swing voters. We may have seen this in a recall last year in Omaha, Neb., where Mayor Jim Suttle eked out a victory, 51 percent to 49 percent. Suttle argued that the recall cost was an unnecessary and unjustified expense. The independent swing voters appeared to be convinced.

As RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has said, if the Democrats lose Wisconsin in November, it’s game over.

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