As we all know, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker handily defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett last night and became the first American governor in history to defeat a recall vote. This is sure to have some ramifications for the November election as well. We can easily figure out what many of these will be:
First, public sector union employees in Wisconsin and many other states will be disheartened by the results. They believed, until the end, that their ground game would be sufficient to win. This has been a source of Democratic victories since 1992, when Clinton targeted those unions, rather than the industrial ones that were the key to Democratic election successes throughout the Midwest and Northeast for decades. Presumably his rationale was that public sector employment (and dues) was much more stable than for those in the private sector.
Second, as state deficits became inexorable after the 2008 recession, though, civil service jobs were lost at rapid, never before seen levels. Governors who were elected in 2010 weren’t beholden to the power of the unions and were able to go after their long-term negotiating advantage. After last night, many politicians in other states will be successful in efforts to constrain the unions. So, I think we may see similar actions in purple states.
Third, union activists have to be disappointed with the lack of support they received from Barack Obama. He continued his trend as President of only engaging at a high level when he was pretty sure that his side would win. Since, in many swing states, union activists are the key, this should reduce Democratic voter turnout in November. This should affect a lot of elections, primarily for Congress.
Finally, I’d expect a lot more Republican enthusiasm for the general election. This will probably be accompanied by more money. I’d guess that this combination is apt to cause the Republicans to do better in the Senate than was previously thought. Until last night’s landslide, I’d have guessed that they would win 50-51 seats. Now, a couple of others where the Democrats had an edge will move into the GOP column, giving them long term control there.
As an aside, the recall effort was silly to begin with. People don’t like poor sports; when your side loses in politics, sports, or life, just suck it up and try to do better next time. The 2010 election results happened because Republicans were much more likely to vote than Democrats. If they didn’t like the policies that were enacted, unions and their allies would have been better served to work for 2014.