Dan Shafer
TCD’s Winners & Losers

FINAL Recall Election Edition

The votes have been counted and the results are in: Scott Walker is still Wisconsin's Governor, the first in U.S. history to survive a recall election.

By - Jun 6th, 2012 08:22 am


1. Governor Scott Walker 

Republican Governor Scott Walker is the big winner, receiving 53 percent of the votes. Walker becomes the first governor in American history to retain his status as governor after a recall, winning by a slightly larger margin than when he originally gained the state’s top spot in 2010. The results weren’t exactly surprising, as the majority of polls leading up to the election showed Walker with the lead. Republican voters have shown astonishing consistency in their support of Walker. The battle began when Walker introduced his budget in February of 2011 for legitimate reasons: Act 10 closed a budget deficit while giving arguably unfair tax advantages to big business at the expense of education, public health and public workers. And in the 16 months since, there has been no inclination Walker’s far-right politics will move any closer to the center or offer substantive chance for compromise, despite Walker’s claim to the contrary from his Waukesha victory podium Tuesday night.

2. Statewide Voter Turnout 

More than 2.4 million Wisconsinites cast votes in the election. Election day reports indicated record turnout with close to 90 percent in Whitefish Bay, and near-record turnout in each party’s respective bases in Madison for Dems and southeastern Wisconsin’s suburban counties for the GOP.

3. The Republican Party 

Several media outlets have drawn links between Wisconsin’s recall election and the presidential election this fall. Unfortunately, this is the type of insane thinking that dominates large portions of today’s increasingly myopic media, and flies in the face of exit polls from Tuesday’s election, which still give Obama a comfortable lead in the state. There are still another five full months of American life to happen before Election Day. Nevertheless, this election is inarguably an enormous boost to the Republican Party, and may embolden conservative governors in other states who have been hanging back to see what happens here.


4. Money 

Money also had a significant impact on this election, the most expensive in the state’s history, at $63 million. Walker was able to raise unlimited funds from the day the recall signatures were submitted, while Democrats were still searching for candidates and conducting a primary. Walker out-funded Barrett by $31 million to $4 million, with conservative Super PACS contributing far more in “indirect support,” and the majority of Walker’s dollars coming from out of state.

5. Mahlon Mitchell

Though not technically a winner, Democrat Mahlon Mitchell received more than 1.1 million votes in his bid to become Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor.  The speech he gave in concession Tuesday night was strong, and Mitchell may now have an opportunity to assume a larger role in the Democratic Party as they start to rebuild.

(UPDATE) 6. State Senator-elect, John Lehman*

The only Democratic candidate with a recall victory on Tuesday night was Racine state senate candidate John Lehman, who defeated Republican incumbent Van Wanggaard by a razor-thin margin of 779 votes, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. A win for Lehman would shift the balance in the State Senate in favor of the Democrats, although with such a slim margin, a recount is extremely likely (hence the above asterisk).


1. Tom Barrett

Tom Barrett lost in his third bid for governor. Despite strong moments in Thursday’s debate and a hometown rally with President Clinton that seemed to carry momentum through the final weekend, Barrett came up short once again. Luckily, Milwaukee is a big city and there is much that will require mayoral attention in the coming years, so he’ll still have an opportunity to make a difference as a public official in the state of Wisconsin.

But Barrett failed to capture votes in key regions outside of Milwaukee and Madison, such as Green Bay and the Fox Valley, the Milwaukee turnout was still shy of 2008 numbers. Before the election, the Marquette University Law Poll showed that Republican support for Walker was over 90 percent, while Barrett’s percentage among Democrats was merely 77. The enthusiasm for the Milwaukee mayor was just never there.

Barrett backed into the candidacy (as predicted in Dec. 22 edition of TCD’s Winners & Losers), and never truly presented to voters a clear vision of what he would do as governor. He wins the Integrity Contest hands down, but he was clearly not the right candidate for this election.

2. The Democratic Party

People rose up in protest in historic droves, and more than one million people signed petitions to recall Scott Walker. But in the end, Democrats came up short in their efforts to thwart the Budget Repair Bill and recall the governor. In February, the Wisconsin 14 raced to Illinois to prevent a quorum, but ultimately Act 10 was passed. When Kloppenburg faced Prosser to tip the majority in the State Supreme Court, Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus ruined her good news with piles of uncounted Republican votes. State Senate and Assembly recalls failed to flip the majority in the State Legislature. And the third gubernatorial recall in American history is now the only to have failed. The recall campaign was run poorly, a candidate was chosen too late, and the Democratic Party failed to relay the outrage many held toward the Republican governor’s actions into any meaningful electoral success. The consequences could be far-reaching, as Walker’s victory creates a blueprint for upcoming Republican races, according to Rachel Maddow and others.

3. Wisconsin Public Unions 

It hardly needs further explanation, but Walker’s victory in this election is devastating for public unions everywhere. It’s hard to imagine what their future holds, if such a future exists. Cries for “union reform” have already sprung up across the nation.

4. Voter Suppression Efforts

Several reports indicated that people were being told by way of robocall that if they had signed a petition to recall the governor, they did not have to go to the polls to cast their votes. Politics is a dirty business, but American democracy in 2012 should be above these tactics.

5. Major news networks

News networks projected Scott Walker as the winner while individuals were still voting in Milwaukee, where certain locations were running low on registration forms in the final hour. Much to the dismay of the Government Accountability Board, television stations were broadcasting interviews with voters who were in line even after the election had been called by the majority of major news networks.

Categories: News, News & Views, Politics

0 thoughts on “TCD’s Winners & Losers: FINAL Recall Election Edition”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The governor of Wisconsin, closes a huge budget deficit, enacts policies that create jobs during a recession, helps close the gap between overpaid public employee unions and the private sector, reduces property taxes and you have nothing good to say about him?

    Do you live in an alternate universe? I guess it just sucks for democrats when they lose and, especially, when they are on the wrong side of logic (which is usually the case).

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m just glad that common sense is now known as “far-right politics”. This is why Liberalism and organized extortion unions are on there way out. The spin will only fool people for so long.

    Congratulations to all of Wisconsin.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Of course, you don’t mention that the Democrats will have control of the State Senate and will act as a brake on the extremist politics of Walker.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Winner – Democrats

    “Republican Gov. Scott Walker won his recall election, but he may have a tougher time getting things through the Wisconsin Legislature after Democrats appear to have successfully recalled a Republican state senator, which would flip the balance of power in the state.” Washington Times

  5. Anonymous says:

    Barrett wins the integrity contest? His wife illegally using school district email to campaign? His inability to answer which school district has been negatively affected by act 10? His complete non-response on how he would have balanced the budget without doing something like act 10? His original campaign proposal of “Put Madison on a diet” which would have done many of the things that act 10 did? The strange occurrence of child abuse and policemen put into hospitals being classified as simple assault so that they are not included on city crime statistics? He wasn’t improperly “presented” to the voters. He was asked many times and never had a comprehensive plan.

  6. Anonymous says:

    …”the big winner, receiving 53 percent of the votes” This doesn’t sound like a big win to me… More like narrowly escaping recall. Now we have 47% of those who voted on the other side of this argument angry and discontented. This is so typical of today’s political system. He spent a ton of money protecting the political post to serve the people of his state. Scott Walker sounds like a sellout loser who had special interest buy his win (Hint: “giving arguably unfair tax advantages to big business at the expense of education, public health and public workers”).

  7. Anonymous says:

    …144,000 votes is a pretty significant disparity to me.

  8. Anonymous says:

    These comment say it all, The people that made this state great have changed. Wisconsin is not a friendly state anymore, I think we can forget about the tourism trade now. Time to move on.

  9. Anonymous says:

    There is no need for the article to claim that the State Senate is now under control of the democrats. That will change in November when the Republicans take control again due to the redistricting. Not to mention the fact that the Senate is not officially in session until January 2013. Whatever blogs you people are reading are giving you very misleading information. And ‘yes’ a 7% win is significant.

  10. Anonymous says:

    One more thing, your “34 million to 4 Million” quote in your story is right out of the states Democratic Party talking points handbook. It is no where near that close and may be even upside down once all the numbers are in. The numbers being used in the article are not inclusive of the amount of money which was spent on out of state union workers brought in to fill 80% of the airport hotel rooms to work in the state on behalf of the Tom Barrett campaign.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Insane thinking? Myopic Media?

    Now that’s not what the left was saying leading up to the recall.

    Let’s review what the left was saying before their historic loss:


  12. Anonymous says:

    In regards to money, you forgot to mention all of the out of state union money, such as the SEIU funding of Wisconsin Jobs Now.


  13. Anonymous says:

    Lehman’s a winner? Technically yes. But probably not really.

    As another commentator noted:

    “The Wisconsin Senate will be out of session until 2013. In November, 16 of the 33 seats will be up for grabs, and thanks to the redistricting that will be in place for the first time in that election, Republicans are supposed to pick up at least two seats. The unions spent millions of dollars and over a year’s worth of effort to get a temporary one-seat majority in a chamber that will never meet in session. And that’s assuming that their lone win from last night holds up in a recount.”

  14. Anonymous says:

    I would compare this blight to that of alcoholics and drug users that it’s best if they hit the rock bottom before there’s any hope for recovery. I blame those whose interest clearly lies with a Democratic leadership yet did not turn out to vote and those who vote right-wing despite the fact that right-wing is pro big business and not them. (read “what’s wrong with Kansas”) May be when everything goes to hell people will realize where their interest lies and will wake up.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Politico has a great explanation of the fundraising issue:

    “Walker himself crushed it, fundraising-wise, spending $30 million to survive. But so did conservative groups such as the Koch-brothers backed Americans for Prosperity, American Majority Action, Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, FreedomWorks and others who directed nearly $20 million to Walker’s cause.

    Conservatives are hardly alone. From the left, groups like the AFL-CIO, Democratic Governors Association, Human Rights Campaign, MoveOn.org and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund spent roughly $15.5 million.”


  16. Anonymous says:

    Russ Feingold should have run AND announced his candidacy early on. I believe he would have won.
    @Dano, repeating retoric doesn’t make it true.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Correction : what’s the matter with Kansas? A good read.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Why must one throw in the preface of “Koch-brothers backed” before mentioning an organization? Yet not preface Moveon.org with “Soros backed”? No need to answer it’s obvious why.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Sadly, our great shared State of Wisconsin is now controlled by privatizers. When a constituent goes into a government representative’s office, they’ll sit at a table or desk when they are talking things over. When people peaceably assembled, like WMC or MMAC or ALEC, go to a government representative’s office, they sit at a table and desk when they are talking things over. But, when the most valuable people responsible for executing and administering government laws and policies, peaceably assembled into unions, want to sit at the table, Boss Walker won’t let them. Aside from the dis-respect is shows toward the individuals, why would any boss NOT want to discuss wages and working conditions to get everybody on the same track?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Dear Dino — Boss Walker shuffles the financial cards as much as any gov, trying to make state government work by borrowing and refinancing. BW’s Job creation was less than Jim Doyle’s during two plus years of teeth of Republican-caused financial mess. Public employees take home less than those of comparable educational achievement in private sector. Property taxes are affected by assessed value declines due to Republican-caused financial mess.
    There’s a pretty popular alternate universe out there – a well-funded theater of the absurd hidden by boy-scout masks and cloaked in a minister’s son. Wisconsin has lost a lot – its more and more a “me,too” state.
    Logic? At least I had something accurate to say ’bout Boz Walka’ – “pleez done fire me, boz, I gots a fam’ly t’feed.”

  21. Anonymous says:

    (1) I think that it is only fair to state that the amount of money spent in this campaign was about the same on each side. Why? Because the left/union drive to recall Governor Walker started in early 2011, and millions of dollars were spent by the unions early on as they attempted partially successfully to shut down the state. (2) Actually, had Mayor Barrett been victorious he might not have changed Act 10. After all, he used tools provided by Governor Walker to fix his own budget problems. This may explain why he never actually addressed the question of how he would have rectified the budget deficit left by Doyle. The $100 million “trolley folly” that Barrett endorses tells us, however, that once the state budget would be in balance, he would likely embark on a new spending spree. (3) The government sector unions lost big time, that’s obvious. But they have no one to blame for their decline but themselves. For decades, the teachers union in Wisconsin has exclusively endorsed and funded candidates from only one party (Democrats), who in turn regaled them with a benefit package the likes of which the private sector has never seen. Smart businessmen support both candidates from parties (since in any given election, either one might win), but no one can honestly claim that the myopic policy of the teacher’s union bosses is “smart”. By consistently endorsing and funding only Democrat candidates, unions prove over and over again their bias. To the unions I say: the jig is up, the taxpaying public knows your game and Governor Walker’s 7% margin (which, considering the circumstances, is a landslide) is proof that I am correct As far as I am concerned, we should go even farther and completely disestablish government sector unions in Wisconsin.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us