Total Recall: What's left after the dust settles, part two
Post by Emily Mills on 8/17/2011 1:08pm
Another round of recalls has come and gone and Wisconsin has voted to keep each of the three Democratic state senators up for a vote, and just four of the six Republicans.
Tuesday night's contest saw Sen. Bob Wirch and Sen. Jim Holperin defending their titles against Republican challengers Jonathan Steitz and Kim Simac. Both incumbents held on to their seats with comfortable margins: Wirch won 58-42 percent, and Holperin 55-45 percent.
That still leaves the Senate with a Republican majority, but a much narrower one than it had previously enjoyed at just 17-16.
It's estimated that more than $40 million was spent on the recalls, most of it coming from out-of-state, independent conservative groups and unions.
Interest in these recalls from both inside and outside Wisconsin has been great and, depending on whether or not a recall effort against Gov. Scott Walker goes ahead, will likely continue to be. Daily Kos even hired North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling to specifically take the state's temperature in regards to the recalls when no other group was doing so (PPP, it should be said, ended up with a remarkably stellar record in predicting results here).
Of still more interest are the numbers themselves: The crunching has only just begun, but initial comparisons of vote totals between the recalls and last year's gubernatorial elections suggest a not-insubstantial shift to the left.
Craig Gilbert at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel finds that:
Overall, the GOP vote share in these nine districts was about seven percentage points lower in the recalls than it was for governor last fall. The Republican drop-off from Walker’s 2010 vote is probably more meaningful in the case of the six GOP-held Senate seats, since those contests more closely resembled a referendum on the governor and his agenda than did the three races featuring Democratic incumbents. In those six races, the GOP Senate incumbents got a combined 52% of the two-party vote, roughly four points lower than Walker’s performance in those same districts last year.
Gilbert goes on to note that while Republican support in three of the recall districts held (Milwaukee/Darling, Twin Cities/Harsdorf, and Green Bay/Cowles), the GOP lost substantial ground in the 12th, where Sen. Luther Olsen narrowly defeated Rep. Fred Clark by just over 2,000 votes. There was a 6.2 point drop in GOP support between the 2010 governor's race and this recall election.
The point loss in the districts where incumbents lost their seats was just as big: In Hopper's 18th, it dropped 9.1 points, and in Kapanke's 32nd it dropped 5.7.
Even where all three Democratic senators held on to their seats the overall support for the GOP went down as well: -13.4 in District 12, -10.7 in District 22, and -21 in District 30.
The folks over at One Wisconsin Now have been looking at the numbers, too, and they aren't great for Walker: "An analysis by One Wisconsin Now shows that the Republican vote in the nine recent recalls elections fell by over 65,000 -- more than half of Walker’s statewide margin of victory in his 2010 election." (full numbers here - pdf)
Still, a recall attempt against Walker is likely to be difficult. OWN also found that the governor "won a voting majority in all nine Senate recall districts." Polling suggests that much will hinge on who runs against him, with former Senator Russ Feingold tying with Walker in a theoretical match-up polled back in April. Feingold has said he would make his decision on whether or not to run by Labor Day.
Emily Mills is Editor-At-Large for Dane101, as well as Editor of Our Lives Magazine. She is also a freelance writer, photographer, actor, and musician (drummer and singer in local band Little Red Wolf). Originally from several states up and down the Midwest Emily has called Madison home since 2000. Contact her at