June 6th, 2012
04:58 PM ET
10 years ago

Democrats, Republicans draw different lessons from Wisconsin recall

(CNN) - You'd hardly know it was the same election.

Republicans on Wednesday sought to portray Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's victory in Tuesday's recall election as a sign of their party's strength, arguing political trends and their field operation could tilt the state their way for the first time in a presidential election in nearly three decades.

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But Democrats - whose candidate, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, lost to Walker on Tuesday and previously in the 2010 gubernatorial race - warned against extrapolating any larger lessons out of Tuesday's vote.

"I certainly wouldn't read much into yesterday's result beyond its effect on who's occupying the governor's seat in Wisconsin," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

While Walker won the recall, CNN exit polls showed voters who cast ballots on Tuesday preferred President Barack Obama to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, 51% to 44%.

In the recall vote, 99% of precincts were reporting as of Wednesday afternoon and of the nearly 2.5 million votes which had been cast, 53% of those were for Walker and 46% were for Barrett.

At a campaign fundraiser on Wednesday, Romney predicted Tuesday's results were a vote of support for the conservative agenda and would "echo throughout the country."

The Wisconsin vote certainly drew nationwide attention, beginning with Walker's signing of a controversial bill in 2011 which curbed the rights of most public employee unions.

Democrats' chances in the Tuesday vote may have been hurt by voters' impression as to whether the circumstances were appropriate for a recall.

CNN exit polling showed that 60% of those who cast ballots thought recalls are appropriate only in cases of the elected official's misconduct, while 27% said they are appropriate for any reason and 10% said recalls were never appropriate. Walker won the support of those who said only in cases of misconduct and never.

The broader consequences of the race will begin with the presidential race in November, Walker predicted after his win Tuesday evening.

"I think it will be competitive in Wisconsin, and the key for Romney to win is he's got to lay out a clear platform, something similar to what our friend [Wisconsin Rep.] Paul Ryan has done down the road," he said.

The CNN Electoral Map shows Wisconsin as leaning in Obama's favor, but it is not among the 15 states which CNN projects are firmly on Obama's side.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, who formerly chaired the state GOP, said in an interview on CNN that it was "a big night for this country."

"This was the Democrats opportunity in Wisconsin to tell the world, 'Wait a second, this is a Democrat state. This whole thing is an anomaly, and we're going to turn Wisconsin blue as it should be,' " Priebus said.

The anomaly, Democrats said, was millions of special interest money which was poured into the state by outside groups.

"This particular election, by the way, wasn't about collective bargaining the last month, I wish it had been about collective bargaining but it wasn't," Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, told reporters on a Wednesday conference call.

He predicted the efforts to recall three Republican members of the state senate would be Democratic wins, although results from those races have not yet been certified by the state.

Obama voiced his support for Barrett, the Democrat, in a tweet on Monday, but Republicans said his decision not to campaign in the state was a sign that they did not want to be embarrassed by a loss there.

But Democrats said the president was busy, and Democratic Governors Association chairman Martin O'Malley, the governor of Maryland, argued Tuesday on CNN's "John King, USA" that an Obama visit had the "potential to nationalize a race that quite frankly should be about whether the people of Wisconsin are creating jobs and expanding opportunity again."

Other high level political surrogates from both parties, including former President Bill Clinton, campaigned on behalf of Barrett or Walker.

Democratic National Committee executive director Patrick Gaspard reiterated on Wednesday that the race was about "issues playing out that were particular to Wisconsin."

"These issues were particular to the folks in Wisconsin," he said on MSNBC, and looking to November, "we're going to continue to build in that state."

Also see:

Romney reacts to Wisconsin recall vote

Texas a cash cow for Romney

Jill Biden weighs into 2016

Filed under: 2012 • Democrats • Republicans • Wisconsin
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Myviewis

    I remember the prediction that said that Walker was definitely out and if memory serves me right I remember Walker winning last night.

    June 6, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. Dave

    The Billion dollar Question is do you think Romneys Lobbying For all out Voter Surpression will win him the White House??? Dont Laugh, In Milwalkee Co over 50 % of African American dont have the Proper Id To Vote!!! In Fl it gets even Worse, Ohio, Yep, Colarado , Yes, Arizona, You bet your ass this Lady is in Romneys Pockets. Theres a little problem though, The Mittster is running into the DOJ & LOSING!!!! Stop the ROMNEY RUBES RYAN ROVE Voter Surpression act that Bishop Tabby Nackle Created. Voting is a RIGHT, not a Privlidge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 6, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  3. Myviewis

    Democrats' excuse – Big money $$$$$=Winning. Same rule applies to Obama: Obama=Big money$$$$ = Winning re-election. Right or wrong?????? We know Obama collects more money than Romney.

    June 6, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  4. Edwin

    I love how much the conservatives are celebrating about this. Don't get me wrong - I would have greatly preferred the other outcome. But everyone here in Wisconsin who follows politics knew this was a long shot. Walker had the money and time to saturate the airwaves with the message "you might not like me but I'm not ALL bad - let me finish my term." That message resonated with voters, largely because there were no ads on TV or radio countering that message until the last month. By then it was too late - the "work WITH me" message was pleading and sounded so much more like compromise than Barrett's "he's really bad."

    But even the voters who chose Walker over Barrett still picked Obama over Romney. Romney has a VERY uphill battle here. He would be foolish to invest money here, but as I said, conservatives are so excited by this win that they probably WILL invest heavily here. And in spite of it, they will probably still lose the state.

    June 6, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  5. B.

    Republicans are owned buy Corporate Special Interests as is the Supreme Court and are going for the Republican controlled states. What else is new?

    June 6, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  6. J.V.Hodgson

    The huge amount of out of state money is what bothers me and also bussing people in. Last I heard a state election was the state voters concern in our constitution. I want Wisconsans to decide without outside interference what to do in our state

    June 6, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  7. Daniel

    I agree with Dave voting is a right of any U.S. Citizen, just need to prove that you are a citizen and your free to vote.

    June 6, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  8. dnick47

    It was and is a Wisconsin thing. Personally I am against Public Worker Unions as well and I favor the Democratic Party. I mean when its gotten out of hand when "public servants" have better benefits, better pension plans, and better damn near everything else and those who work private sector just sit and stare as they drive by road crews half of which are holding up shovels, or going to work while their teacher neighbor heads to the beach in their spanking new camper and alike. It just got out of hand and Wisconsin did something about it... the people narrowly backed the governor.

    June 6, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  9. once upon a horse

    I will give the Republicans credit for this...if it is something that they really want they will come out and FIGHT for it..Democrats will NOT! Once the GOP saw the possibility that they could lose this election they went all out, brought in the big guns, the so-called superstars of the party and FoxNews plus all the money they could muster to get this guy back in office. What did the Demmocrats do? Bring in Big Ed from MSNBC, (no disrespect to him, but) and tried to rally towards the end. FAILURE!! Even if they fight dirty and many times they do..Republicans FIGHT..Democrats play around until it's too late then sit back with their thumbs in their mouths wondering what if. And I normally support a Democratic ticket but they really get on my nerves quite a bit.

    June 6, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  10. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Oh that's right, Myviews... Obama should stop and let Mitt "catch up"...

    Don't you have a job?

    June 6, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  11. CBR

    The big lesson learned on Tuesday was you can take funding away from teachers, state workers, and other folks who work for the state of Wisconsin.Did the Governor or any other politicians have their funding cut? Are those in the state legislature having their funding cut? The members of Congress receive health insurance. They can retire knowing they will receive a pension and their health insurance will also continue. Rep Boehner, Rep. Cantor and all other leaders in Congress have not had any cuts in salary. Their benefits have not been cut.

    Meanwhile teachers are being criticized for any number of reasons. People want good teachers but they do not want to pay them or give them benefits. The policemen and the firemen are in the same predicament. They have taken away any bargaining rights as well. Just who will be at the table when contracts run out?

    June 6, 2012 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  12. Namewillardbullock22@yahoo.com

    I think roomey better that presdient obama
    I support for roomey

    June 6, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  13. Independent Texan

    Grease up boys and girls, the demise of the middle class is at hand. The ultra Repubs. are modeling America`s future workforce after their economic hero,-- China. Isn`t China basically a Communist country ??

    June 6, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  14. sonnie3

    Common Sense and a balanced Budget is what the people wanted, They don't want unions to interfere with that program. It is time to get real and Wisconsin did.

    June 6, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  15. Living in the REAL world

    Dave – Voting is a RIGHT, not a Privlidge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I agree it IS a PRIVILEGE OF LEGAL US CITIZENS. And legal US citizens DEMAND that the integrity and meaning of their vote BE PROTECTED from FRAUD. Every illegal vote casts NEGATES the vote of a legal US citizen. The government has allowed the country to be invaded by MILLIONS of illegal aliens and it threatens the voting rights of every US citizen.

    June 6, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  16. T'sah from Virginia

    The best part about last night is the Democrat Senator winning – Now the Democrats have the majority in the state's senate... So what was the real message sent by the voters???

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!

    June 6, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  17. ARon

    Io am an independent , I voted for obmma because the republicans screwed my party up and I quit . But though I agree with the people of wis..gov. Did nothing that should have subjected him to a recall vote. In fact the collective bargaining rights of public and non public unions for to long. The tax paying private sector should not be responsible for providing bettter benefits to public sector employees then they can afford for themselves. More over we simply cannot afford to them when such benefits lead to bankrupt cities,towns and states . Pay for performance should be the norm but everything has it's limits. When we were kids we would look up to the sky and dream how high is up. Well we are there and now we must grow up and realize the majority rules and all of you public employees really do work for us. You are payed enough . And like the rest of us you must help pay for benefits and save for retirement like the rest of us.

    June 6, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  18. Marry

    Why do people do this? Why do they liked to be lied too, be ripped off, see their State go down, have unethical people govern, not take the chance to right what has proven to hurt them?? Unbelievable!!
    If the voter does not take a good look at the GOP and what they do to the country, the same will happen as with the last Republican President: Foreign policies will end in war showing primitive and bullying “strength” that will cost lots of lives and money without a good result. Romney and his crowed are going always for the quick profit – not for the wellbeing of the country! Domestically it will leave the US destroyed! We know this and if the voter goes that direction – shame on him!

    June 7, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |