09 April 2011

As Wisconsin goes, so goes the nation?

While the chanting reverberated through Wisconsin's stat capitol building a month ago, there were some who theorized (hopefully) that these protests would herald a new political backlash against the Tea Party movement. At the time, I disagreed.

The re-election of conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser would seem to vindicate my view. Time will tell whether the election is really a harbinger of a nationwide, permanent shift - as permanent as things can be in politics, anyway - but let's take a look at just how big this narrow victory really is:


  • Wisconsin has not voted for a Republican for president since 1984. Although George W. Bush lost there both times by a very narrow margin, suggesting the state might be "purple," Wisconsin went for Obama by a 14% margin.
  • Both US Senate seats from Wisconsin were held be Democrats from 1993 until last fall.
  • The left was enormously motivated, turning out 90% of registered voters in liberal Dane County, which include Madison and the University of Wisconsin, and the race was heavily politicized as a referendum on the policies of newly-elected Governor Scott Walker and the Republican legislative majority.
  • Interest groups nationwide poured money into the race, and all the enthusiasm, if one were to believe most media reports, was on the Democrat side.
Despite all that, in this purple-leaning-blue state, the Democrats' high-water mark still fell short. Consider the contrast to the Tea Party movement that arose in the spring of 2009. The high-water mark for that movement was probably around the time the Democratic Congress passed Obamacare in defiance of the huge crowds outside the US Capitol, and despite overwhelming opposition expressed in public opinion polls. Yet nine months later, voters still threw Democrats out of office in historic fashion. Imagine if 2010's election had been in April instead of November.

As always, it's tough to make prediction a year and a half out from an election, but Wisconsin's results would seem to demonstrate that even the highest outrage of the left does not motivate a majority, and that's good news for Republicans who take fiscal responsibility, and individual liberty seriously.

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