Well, the voters of Wisconsin didn't get Walker, but maybe they never could have, and just maybe they have adequate compensation for their effort. Several of the following points have been raised elsewhere, but let's consider them together.
It may be that recalling the Governor in Wisconsin would never have been possible. As early as January, polling indicated that around three of four voters considered a recall never appropriate or only so in case of gross malfeasance. Even that early, the Republicans seemed to know this datum and they pointed to it in much of their advertising. "Doesn't it just seem wrong?" etc, etc. Perhaps some of the Democrats knew of this bias too, but saw an opportunity to hand the Republicans a pyrrhic victory. Sometimes you have to loose to win.
The fact is that some nameless zillionaires just payed about 35 million to gain nothing. In winning they merely avoided a loss, and that sum of money will not be available for causing mischief elsewhere. We might want to dream up a few more black holes for them to throw money into.
Walker still has potential corruption charges lurking in the shadows, waiting to look ugly. He managed to postpone any embarrasments from that direction until after the election, but now we shall see. Does anybody remember Watergate?
Almost overlooked is the fact that the recall was successful in part. One bright red Senator was bounced and replaced with a Democrat, shifting control the State Senate to the Dems. The rest of Walker's agenda is henceforth DOA, and now that state body can be used as a weighty progressive tool. In six months some more Senate seats and all the Assembly will be up for grabs, and the Democratic ground game is highly tuned.
In exit polls President Obama scored ahead of Romney by five to seven points (neglecting Rasmussen's obviously jiggered results). Does this sound like a foaming-at-the-mouth red state to you? Aggressive campaigning can build on those numbers.
Yes, hopes were high and they were not realized in full, but the good folks of Wisconsin should feel no shame. They had a steep hill to climb, and yet they have much to show for their efforts. Most important is that this election allowed an exposition of the issues. We had a chance to see what the Republican agenda will be -- they tipped their hand. Democrats can now offer their own view of the future and let the voters decide.