Hope Dies for Unions as Wisconsin Voters Reject Change


Someone has to be pretty deep in the Land of Denial to spin the Wisconsin recall elections as good news for Democrats. But the Daily Kos' Markos Moulitsas rose to the occasion yesterday.

Republicans managed to keep four of the six seats that Democrats and their public union allies had targeted for recall, thwarting Democratic plans to wrest control of the state legislature from GOP hands. Of the two seats that Republicans lost, one was in a solidly Democratic district that a Republican happened to hold only due to a fluke of nature, David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner notes. And the second was held by an alleged adulterer whose wife revealed that he had moved outside his district to live with his young lover.

This would be bad news for the Dems under any circumstances, but it is especially so given that it comes on the heels of their previous failure to boot out conservative Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, despite allegations that he assaulted a fellow justice.

But Moulitsas billed the elections, on which the public sector unions spent a record-setting amount ($35 million, according to Rush Limbaugh), a success because the two paltry seats the Dems won represented a whopping 33 percent pick-up rate. "If we can enjoy a similar 'loss rate' in Republican-held districts, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have a huge majority in 2013," he said.

The Daily Kos is entitled to its dreams, but here are the six random lessons of the Badger State's elections for the reality-bound:

One: Never mis-underestimate the capacity of an ex-wife to screw you.

Two: Democrats whom Republicans have targeted for recall next Tuesday should be afraid, very afraid. Smart money had been giving these Dems an edge even though they are in Republican districts because of expectations that the union get-out-the-vote apparatus would outperform the GOP get-out-the-vote apparatus. But the heavy turnout of Republican voters in this week's elections puts a huge question mark on that plan.

Three: Regardless of the outcome of next week's recall elections, the state legislature will remain in Republican hands along with the Supreme Court. This means that the Dems have zero to nil chance of wresting back the collective bargaining rights of public unions that Governor Scott Walker took away.

Four: Given that this is the second defeat for Wisconsin Democrats, a successful recall against Walker next year is likely dead in the water.

Five: Even though Walker is not unscathed, the fact that he took on the public union juggernaut and is still standing to tell the tale will embolden Republican governors in other states such as Nevada, Ohio and Michigan to take on their unions. This could be the beginning of the end of the public unions, precisely the outcome that these elections were supposed to avert.

Six: Voters don't give a rat's ass about the Kochtopus-Walker non-connection.