Scott Walker is poised to easily prevail in the Wisconsin recall this Tuesday. Not even the President would come to Wisconsin in the final days (he visited Minneapolis and Chicago last week but wouldn’t cross the border into the Badger State), which is a clear indicator that he thinks Tom Barrett will get hammered. If it was at all close, we would have seen the President come to rally the troops and get the mayor of Milwaukee over the top.
In 2010 Scott Walker beat Barrett by almost six percentage points and I suspect strongly that he’ll have about the same margin this time as well. In the end, Walker should win 53-47 and this will hopefully end this recall madness once and for all. If Barrett does win, it will ensure continued political war in Wisconsin. General elections will become less meaningful as anyone will pull out the recall card and try to bring a sitting legislator or governor down if they do anything at all controversial. No longer will recalls be used as a device for politicians who commit grievous errors or clearly break the law; they will be weapons for anyone who has an axe to grind.
In the end, what the unions really wanted was to intimidate anyone who would try to change their generous benefit packages. If they do win it will send a message to the rest of the country to beware of the power and influence of unions; especially governmental unions. However, many states are rapidly coming to the point where they simply cannot afford these generous packages and have taken steps to contain costs. Even heavily Democratic Rhode Island has recently made huge changes to their state pension system. Enacted over protests from unions, Rhode Island’s pension liability has been cut by half because legislators, the state’s treasurer and the governor bravely passed badly needed legislation. At the same time, states like California and Illinois continue to look into the abyss because they don’t have the willpower to enact pension reform in the face of massive union resistance.
A Tom Barrett loss on Tuesday will be terrible for Democrats for a number of reasons. One, they simply thought that a majority of Wisconsinites agreed with them and talked themselves into launching this recall effort. Second, the time and money spent on the recall cannot now be used to help reelect the President and elect a Democrat to the open US Senate seat up this year. Three, it energizes the Wisconsin (and national GOP) as Republicans realize that Scott Walker’s best defense was an aggressive offense and conservatives can prevail over vicious union and Democratic attacks. Fourth, it provides continued momentum for Mitt Romney as he continues to hit the President for his failed policies. Finally, it puts a state that voted for the President by fourteen points in play for Romney this fall. Quite simply, if Mitt carries the state, it will be nearly impossible for Obama to be reelected.