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.