Wisconsin recall vote: What does it mean?

A victory for Republicans? Kinda. A plus for Democrats? Sorta. DCDecoder says that The Wisconsin elections offered neither a massive backlash to GOP policy nor strong support for those same policies.

La Crosse Tribune/Rory O'Driscoll/AP
Two men cast their votes for the 32nd Senate District recall election Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011, in Onalaska, Wis. n rights. (AP Photo/)

Two is the number of Republican state senators in Wisconsin successfully deposed by Democratic challengers yesterday. Not exactly a whopping figure, but remember: Thirteen is the number of state senators who have ever been recalled.

So was this a resounding victory for Democrats? Hardly.

We wrote to you yesterday about how one would be well-served to think about Wisconsin’s six recall votes as a symbolic measure, a first glimpse at how one typically moderate state would react to Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s hardline move against unions and the rise of a more strident form of conservative politics, headlined by the tea party, in general.

What did we learn? Wisconsin in 2011 is a lot like Wisconsin in 2008. In other words, the election offered neither massive backlash to GOP policy nor strong support for those same policies. The symbol, could you call it that, is a dud.

While the state’s high-profile showdown over workers rights lead many to focus on organized labor’s big campaign contributions, the recalls — which ate up almost as much cash as the state’s gubernatorial election last year — actually ended up with Republicans generating a small fundraising edge. As such, any reports of big labor getting a big black eye are also exaggerated.

As the conservative publication The Weekly Standard wrote, Democrats dreaming of recalling Walker have to face a much more difficult reality. In addition, their hopes of up-ending controversial collective bargaining legislation appears to be several years away at the earliest as they failed to gain control of the state senate (although they did narrow the GOP’s lead to a single vote, 17-16). As such, “the results are pretty good news for Republicans. But they shouldn’t get cocky.”

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