Republican Governor Scott Walker’s easy victory in yesterday’s recall election in Wisconsin means that the conservative efforts to kill off the American labor movement will not only continue but likely increase in intensity.
It means that Walker is the only governor in three American recall elections that survived a recall effort.
It means that conservatives win recall elections, this time by successfully defending a conservative governor, while in the two previous recalls, 1921 and 2003, defeating sitting liberal governors.
It means that corporate money, allowed after the Supreme Court’s Citizen United ruling, which came in from out-of-state in huge amounts to Governor Walker, does make a difference. Walker outspent his challenger Tom Barrett 8 to 1.
It means little for the general election in November in Wisconsin, where Barack Obama beat John McCain in 2008 by 14 per cent. The Democratic presidential candidate has won in Wisconsin in every election since 1988, albeit narrowly in 2000 and 2004, and the State seems a pretty safe for Barack Obama in the fall.
The exit polls in Wisconsin confirm this. They show Obama beating Mitt Romney 51 to 44, and that 18 per cent of those who voted for Walker support Obama. Writes Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast:
“Folks, if ever there was a day in the history of Wisconsin polling that should have shown Romney within spitting distance of Obama–or even ahead, given the obviously massive pro-Walker turnout–it should have been yesterday, which was the biggest and most enthusiastic day for Republican politics in recent state history. Yes, Romney should have been ahead, or at the very least tied. Instead, the same electorate that gave Walker this huge win said it would reelect the president handily.”
But the Republicans certainly hope that Walker’s victory will have national implications for the fall. And they will, not the least for American labor, which lost an important battle. As Jonathan Chait writes on his blog in New York Magazine:
“Walker’s win will certainly provide a blueprint for fellow Republicans. When they gain a majority, they can quickly move to not just wrest concessions from public sector unions but completely destroy them, which in turn eliminates one of the strongest sources of political organization for the Democratic Party. And whatever backlash develops, it’s probably not enough to outweigh the political benefit. Walker has pioneered a tactic that will likely become a staple of Republican governance. Fortune favors the bold.”