As Instapundit, Mickey Kaus, and others have noted, President Barack Obama is leading from behind on today's recall election in Wisconsin. To hear Democrats and progressives tell it, the recall contest between incumbent Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) is nothing less than the battle of Stanlingrad when it comes to fairness, collective bargaining, and the basic human dignity that Dems revere and Republicans and other "goggle-eyed homunculuses" (homunculi?) despise with every cell in their Ork-like non-souls. That is, it's the last stand for all that is good and decent in this world of tears.
So here's the Dems' fearless leader, weighing in via Twitter:
What does it mean that Obama was willing to do more to help Chicago win the Olympic Games than he is to lend a hand in the hotly contested Badger State?
One of two things, both bad for the Dem side of the equation. Either Obama figures this cake is baked and there's no way Walker is going to lose or Obama figures any sort of higher-profile intervention will hurt Barrett's chances. This, in a state where polls consistently showing Obama whomping presidential challenger Mitt Romney. (The recent Reason-Rupe Poll of Wisconsin voters, for instance, had Walker leading Barrett 50 percent to 42 percent and Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney 46 percent to 36 percent.) Over at the New York Times' FiveThirtyEight blog, Nate Silver is saying that Walker is likely to win despite some apparent tightening of the polls.
Why is that? Given that Wisconsin voters prefer Obama, you can't write off the result simply as the result of devious "outside money" flipping the smart, otherwise progressive-leaning voters of America's Dairyland. Indeed, as Reason-Rupe results show, residents have generally favorable views of public-employee workers and their unions. They just think that those people should pay more for their health and retirement benefits—around 70 percent of respondents wanted teachers and other public employees to pay more in fact. And 57 percent thought cops and firefighters (who were exempted by Walker's collective barganing bill) should pay more to (only 38 percent supported the exemption).
So for all the ukelele-based folk songs blasting Scott Walker, most Wisconsin people understand that you can't keep maintaining high levels of benefits that are paid for by taxpayers despite larger economic and demographic trends. It's shaping up that, whatever else you can say, that a vote to keep Scott Walker as governor is a vote for some semblance of long-delayed and much-needed fiscal sanity. And given that virtually every state is bleeding red ink and propping up a public-sector in which employees get total compensation that is far higher than similar private-sector workers, you can expect that same sort of benefit cuts to be coming to a state near you.
None of that necessarily implies much about November's presidential election either. It seems likely that Wisconsin folks will keep Scott Walker and vote again for Barack Obama. But you gotta wonder what the president's follow-up Tweet is going to look like.
Reason Polling Director discussed the results of our recent survey in a video released last week. Watch it now: