It’s a recall, not an omen

Already time to take back, or at least complicate, the nice things I said about the Times’s Wisconsin coverage.  Today above the fold:

Broadly, the results will be held up as an omen for the presidential race in the fall, specifically for President Obama’s chances of capturing this Midwestern battleground — one that he easily won in 2008 but that Republicans nearly swept in the midterm elections of 2010…

A Marquette Law School telephone poll of 600 likely voters, conducted last week, found Mr. Walker leading 52 percent to 45 percent; the poll’s margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points for each candidate.

I suppose I can’t deny that the results “will be held up as” an omen for November’s election by some people.  But those people will be wrong, and the Times should say so.  At the very least they should avoid giving the impression that the recall vote is likely to be predictive of the presidential vote, an assertion for which they give no evidence, not even a quote in support.

I’m just going to repeat what I said in the last post.  Wisconsin is split half and half between Republicans and Democrats.  In nationally favorable Democratic environments (2008) the state votes Democratic.  In nationally favorable Republican environments (2010) the state votes Republican.  At this moment, there’s no national partisan wave, and you can expect Wisconsin elections to be close.  But incumbency is an advantage.  So Walker is winning, and so is Obama. As the Times reports, the Marquette poll has him up 7.  What the Times doesn’t report is that the very same poll has Obama beating Romney by 8.

I guess the recall might be an omen after all — if Walker actually wins by 7, it means there’s no massive shift to the GOP going on in this state, and you’re a broadly popular incumbent President whose hometown is within a half-day’s drive of most of Wisconsin’s population, your prospects here are pretty good.

Arguing against myself:  2006 was also a great year for Democrats nationally, and incumbent Democratic governor Jim Doyle beat Mark Green by only 7.

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5 thoughts on “It’s a recall, not an omen

  1. Richard Séguin says:

    “if Walker actually wins by 7, it means there’s no massive shift to the GOP going on in this state …”

    True, but if he does win by 7, or even by a lower difference, Walker will nevertheless claim an overwhelming mandate for his policies (as did George Bush after his marginal wins), and the middle class had better (borrowing the words of Ronald Reagan) watch their wallets.

    Walker may very well win. I heard second hand from a media sales person that political ads on TV are targeted at “stupid people” — those who never read newspapers or other sources of news — in the hopes that bombarding their uncritical minds with negative ads and such will sway their opinion or attitude. With his seemingly endless pot of billionaire money, Walker has been pummeling the entire state with endless and highly misleading or outright false TV ads in a way that Barrett could only wish for.

  2. harrison says:

    “if Walker actually wins by 7, it means there’s no massive shift to the GOP going on in this state …”

    Relative to 2010, no. But there was a large shift to the GOP nationally between 2008 and 2010, which should be taken into account.

  3. JSE says:

    That’s the view I’m disagreeing with. In 2010, Walker won as a non-incumbent in a regular election. If he gets the same margin against the same opponent, as a sitting governor, in a recall that not all Democrats think should have happened, I take that as a signal that the state of the electorate has shifted back to something like normal,, from the abnormally Democratic year of 2008 and the abnormally Republican year of 2010.

  4. Richard Séguin says:

    I agree with JSE. However, the real story here is the radicalization of the GOP, the extent of which many voters who shifted their votes to the GOP in 2008 did not realize, and which continues on that trajectory. Some of those voters probably still don’t understand the full program of the newly radicalized GOP, and an important statistic for the upcoming elections is exactly how many of those voters there are.

  5. [...] Back in June, before the recall election, I argued against the view that a Walker victory spelled trouble for Obama’s re-election campai…: [...]

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