Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Walker's Rural, Out-State Edge Cannot Be Ignored

I suspect plenty of Wisconsinites are mulling over the import of these lines in a Sunday story by Journal Sentinel political writer Craig Gilbert, and it could guide progressives who want to deal with the results to plan ahead.

In geographic terms, the big story of the state’s June 5 election was Walker’s striking performance outside the Milwaukee and Madison media markets.

In demographic terms, it was Walker’s rural landslide.

It’s these two related factors that explain why this race wasn’t as close as many expected, and how Walker managed to win by even more votes in 2010 than he did in 2012.
Is what happened “out-state” a warning sign for Democrats — and President Obama — in November?

The answer depends on how you interpret Walker’s victory – how much of it you attribute to special circumstances (the big disparity in campaign spending, attitudes toward the recall itself, having a Democratic candidate so closely linked to the city of Milwaukee) and how much of it you attribute to broader factors that could be more relevant in the fall (partisan intensity, voter perceptions of the two parties and their policy differences).

One thing is clear.

No matter how huge their margins in Milwaukee and Dane counties, Democrats can’t win statewide if their geographic base is as narrow as it was June 5, when Tom Barrett won only 12 of 72 counties and only six outside the state’s southern tier.


Anonymous said...

I think these rural voters are more likely to be the ones who are susceptible to the arguments against recall in general: As the ad said, "Recall, it's not the Wisconsin way."

For whatever reason, I think rural voters are the ones who most fell prey to the idea the recalling someone is a kind of "unfair do-ver" that should be avoided. I'll be blunt: I think it's because they're less politically savvy and just can't see the need to have a release valve on democracy. The release valve of a recall-- or a referendum in order to repeal laws, something many states have-- is a really necessary part of democracy. It's just going to happen that sometimes democracy is going to be hijacked and used for ends that were never discussed or openly talked about before votes took place.

Many people who voted for Walker ended up having the view that recalls should only be for "misconduct," i.e. criminal malfeasance or criminal conduct like Presidential impeachment.

I also feel like these rural voters are more likely to be trusting of their leaders, even if their leaders are taking them down the primrose path.

Republicans and Walker had the game stacked in their favor. They could start advertising before the recall was finalized. They could raise unlimited cash once the recall was declared. And from November of last year until the middle of this Spring, Walker and his associates managed to make many Wisconsinites sour on the whole notion of recall. How else to explain the fact that Walker's winning edge in many, many counties actually went up instead of down, even after what he has down to our state?

Anonymous said...

The uncivil behavior by the protestors in Madison certainly didn't promote the progressive movement with reasonable and/or undecided voters.

Tess said...

I belong to a union and live in northern WI. When this whole thing started I wrote to my union leaders out of Milwaukee. I wanted them to partner with the Medicaid Matters Alliance made up of organizations who advocate for the elderly, disabled, children, mentally ill, and women's healthcare. On top of that the cuts to education was a huge part of Act 10. Almost everyone was affected by this bill.
I absolutely love Ed Schultz but he and the union leaders made this fight all about collective bargaining, when there was so much more involved. They handed Scott Walker a huge gift making this about hero Scott vs the union "thugs". Every other aspect of that draconian bill was drowned under collective bargaining.
In rural Wisconsin there are very few unionized facilities. Up north here, the unemployment is high and the wages are low. People are struggling and are jealous of public workers who they "perceive" as having things they will never have like insurance and pensions.
When 38% of union households voted for Scott Walker, why would you expect people that have never belonged to a union, to vote differently.
Rural Wisconsin doesn't have the same mindset as Milwaukee and Madison, but that's where all our Democratic and union leaders are from.
There was the overwhelming amount of money spent spreading the Koch lies. And let's face it, we are neighbors with a great number of people who are misinformed Fox "News" watchers and just plain ignorant.
I think many people need to take a look in the mirror on this one. It always amazes me that the worst, most rundown houses up here are the ones with the Republican signs out front. Why don't they shoot themselves in the head because they'll get the same result.

Don said...

Thank you Tess for elaborating on the thoughts of rural people and people up North.

Crazy Politico said...

Maybe the folks "outstate", mostly rural, many farmers, realized that civil service had become too sweet a deal.

How much sympathy did the union folks expect from folks who pay 100% of their families insurance when they cried about 12%?

Did the unions expect a lot of sympathy from farmers who have to hope they can sell enough of their farm, or save enough of their own money to retire, when the union folks complained about paying anything?

Union leaders in Milwaukee and Madison are as out of touch with rural Wisconsin as their bosses in DC who convinced them the recall was a great idea.