First, 60 percent of voters thought that recall elections were only appropriate for official misconduct, while 27 percent said "any reason." Another 10 percent said "never"—and those voted for Walker 94-5. It's hard going into any election with 10 percent immediately off the board, and for those who said "only official misconduct," Walker won 68-31. Turns out people just didn't like the idea of a recall—something worth filing away as an important lesson learned.
Second of all, young people didn't turn out. Only 16 percent of the electorate was 18-29, compared to 22 percent in 2008. That's the difference between 646,212 and 400,599 young voters, or about 246,000. Walker won by 172,739 votes. Turns out having the recall in the summer, when the universities were out, was among the biggest strategic miscalculations.
So given all that, it was interesting to see Republicans pretend Wisconsin will be in play in November. The GOP chair, Reince Priebus:
Republicans have the infrastructure and enthusiasm that will help us defeat President Obama in Wisconsin. In that respect, it was a great ‘dry run.AP:
“Romney now plans to compete in the state aggressively, looking to capitalize on the Republican momentum … His team considers Wisconsin a top target, … and more attractive than even Romney's native Michigan, where the campaign had hoped to establish an Upper Midwest beachhead. ‘The close vote on Tuesday confirms that Wisconsin will be a swing state,’ said Republican strategist Terry Nelson, an adviser to George W. BushThe reality is, yesterday's election was better than any phone poll, because it gave us the voting preferences of two and a half million actual voters, and this is what the exit polls tell us:
If the presidential election were today, for whom would you vote?
Barack Obama 51
Mitt Romney 44
But the Right's messaging tapped into voter discontent with the whole concept of the recall election itself. That won't fly in November. Nor will Republicans win back the 18 percent of Obama supporters who pulled the trigger for Walker.
Or put in real numbers, there were almost 230,000 Obama supporters that opted to let Walker finish out his term but have no current interest in voting for Romney. How will Team Red flip that vote while contending with other pro-Obama constituencies that didn't turn out last night?