On the Ground In Wisconsin
June 5, 2012 1:41 pm
Lines formed well before polls opened early this morning in Wisconsin, reflecting the importance of the state’s historic recall election. Incumbent Scott Walker and Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett vie for a divided state whose residents report their personal relationships are being affected by the fierce debate surrounding the election.
President Obama weighed in with a tweet last night , yet was chided by Walker for failing to actively campaign for Barrett in Wisconsin. Obama’s failure to get involved disappointed unions campaigning for Walker, and in an interview with Fox Business Network , Walker pointed to the tweet as indicative of Democratic party concern over the recall election. Analysts speculated Obama is avoiding heavy involvement due to the possibility of a potentially damaging Barrett loss in Wisconsin.
The election could act as an indicator of Obama’s chances to carry Wisconsin and other midwestern states, but almost certainly will represent a turning point for the labor unions that drove the recall effort. After Walker’s Act 10 stripped public unions of collective bargaining rights, labor unions rallied to gather signatures leading to the recall. The results of the recall may reflect how likely governors are to attack public unions when attempting to balance sate budgets.
The gubernatorial recall election, only the third in U.S. History, is the most expensive race in Wisconsin’s history. At least $63.5 million has been spent on it. Under state law, the challenger Barrett is limited to $10,000 dollar individual donations, while Walker has been able to receive unlimited donations. Walker’s campaign finance reports read like a who’s who of conservative superdonors, with Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers ponying up massive sums to keep the Governor in office. (Reports of a criminal investigation on potential violations of campaign finance laws have been plagueing Walker in the days leading up to the election.)
The preponderance of Campaign funds resulted in a deluge of advertisements endorsing candidates in today’s race. CNN reports: “the number of undecided voters has dwindled to almost zero, strategists in both parties say, meaning that the only mission left for both sides is to get their rabid supporters to the polls.” Most analysts predict a high turnout will favor Barrett. With 60 to 65% voter turnout expected, the question is whether the turnout will be high enough to reverse Walker’s slight lead in recent polls.
Unionosity will continue to report on the election throughout the evening.