Huge push by labor, tea party, in final hours before recall vote
With less than 24 hours before the polls open in the Wisconsin recall election, both sides are making a final push to energize their supporters and get out the vote.
Major unions and Tea Party groups have plowed substantial funds into the recall election. Politicians on the national scene have journeyed to the state to campaign with their chosen candidates.
But the stakes are particularly high for labor groups, which have invested heavily in the fight to unseat Walker and have expressed concerns that their traditional Democratic allies haven't been as committed.
More than $63 million has been spent by Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, his Democratic challenger, as well as outside groups. That figure tops the more than $34 million spent on the 2010 gubernatorial race, making it Wisconsin's most expensive state contest in history.
Republicans and Democrats agree that the Tuesday showdown could be a preview for November's presidential race. A Walker win in battleground Wisconsin could boost Republican hopes to take the state, which has gone blue in the last several campaigns for the White House. A Walker defeat could also energize Democratic supporters ahead of the presidential contest.
Asked on Fox News Sunday whether a Walker victory meant Wisconsin swings to Romney in the fall, Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's campaign, said he couldn't say, but that more states in the region are moving towards the GOP.
"There is something going on in Wisconsin and all across the Great Lakes where it is moving away from liberal Democratic policies and for more reform-oriented Republican policies," Gillespie said.
Pundits always like to draw broad, national lessons from local elections and in this case, they are overreaching. Even if Walker wins comfortably, it is still an uphill climb for Mitt Romney to win the state in November. And Gillespie is talking through his hat about other Great Lake states moving toward the GOP. Which ones would those be, Ed? Illinois? Obama is a slam dunk winner in his home state. Michigan? The latest poll has Obama up 14. Ditto Minnesota. Only Indiana could be considered solid Romney territory, while Ohio is a toss up. Pennsylvania always teases Republicans but ends up in the Democratic camp on election day.
The industrial heartland is gettable for Romney but he must select his targets carefully. Iowa is very much in play, as is Missouri. Ohio is, of course, a must win and Wisconsin may deserve a lot of attention no matter how the recall race turns out. Michigan is one of Romney's "home" states, but like Massachusetts, he trails badly.
The course of the national election takes many twists and turns and it is too easy to point to a particular event along the way as affecting the race decisively. The voters in Wisconsin are not going to be thinking about Romney or Obama when they walk into the polling booth tomorrow. They are going to be thinking about jobs and the Wisconsin economy.
And on that, the recall election will turn.