That might seem like a strange question, given that United Wisconsin claims it already has the 500,000+ signatures they need to force a recall election this spring, and are aiming for a million by the end of the 60-day petition period next month.
But the Walker-Kleefisch recall isn’t the only one going. Petitions are circulating on five state senators — four Republicans and one Democrat. Democratic gains in the last recall left the GOP with a precarious 17-16 majority in the upper chamber. So if Democrats gain one seat, they take over Senate control.
There’s a big difference between this recall election and the previous one. The state senators recalled last year were elected in 2008, a year of Democratic dominance; the Republicans who managed to get elected that year were strong candidates in Republican-leaning districts. And even so, two lost their seats. This time around, it’s the opposite. Van Wanggard, Pam Galloway, and Terry Moulton all knocked off Democratic incumbents in the 2010 Republican sweep; and even with that wind at their back, Wanggard and Galloway each won by modest 5-point margins. There’s every reason to think those two, at least, would be vulnerable to Democratic challengers.
So why aren’t Wisconsin Democrats putting more resources into these races? The Van Wanggard recall has just about reached the required number of signatures, but will need a lot more to be safe from legal challenges. Pam Galloway’s petition is only 70% there. And with Christmas and New Year’s coming, the second month isn’t likely to be as productive as the first. Per the linked Isthmus article, none of the recall committees has more than $7,000 on hand. Why?
I get that the Walker recall is the main event. But with no obvious candidate to oppose the governor, the recall election is at best a coinflip for Democrats. Maybe the state senate recalls are a coinflip, too: but changing control of either one would effectively halt Wisconsin’s ability to make meaningful legislative changes. For Wisconsin Democrats, that would be a huge success. And one coinflip out of two is a much easier game to win than one out of one.
And some good news for people who like poll news: my colleague Charles Franklin, who knows more about polling data than anyone I’ve ever met, is taking a year’s leave of absence from UW to poll the hell out of Wisconsin in 2012 as head of a new project at Marquette Law. Expect lots of posts here about his sweet crunchy data.