The meaning of Wisconsin

Labor-backed Democrats won two of the three  races needed to take control of the Wisconsin Senate. Disappointing at first glance, but maybe not. Here’s what some experts say.

Gary Sargent, Political Animal

But I still consider the events of the last several months in Wisconsin rather remarkable. Just a half-year after Republicans scored major wins in a key swing state, up and down the ballot, labor and its Democratic allies managed to organize historic protests in Madison, rally the grassroots to collect thousands of petition signatures, force an unheard of six GOP incumbents into recall elections, and win a third of the races despite a considerable influx of outside conservative money.

Also note the specifics of the electoral battleground: these six Wisconsin districts elected Republican state senators in 2008 — a great year for Democrats. In other words, yesterday’s recall elections were held in districts that can safely be described as GOP strongholds, making the left’s efforts that much more difficult.

Kos, Daily Kos

Beyond Wisconsin, if we can enjoy a similar “loss rate” in Republican-held districts (picking up 33 percent of them), Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have a huge majority in 2013. We had a message that resonated with large numbers of working people in overwhelmingly white working-class districts that shifted hard against Democrats in 2010. GOP overreach is winning them back for us. Just think, before today, only 13 state legislators had been recalled in the entire history of this nation.

The Fix:

In the end, the efforts against Walker and Kasich on labor rights could very well provide a chilling effect for other Republicans who are feeling ambitious when it comes to those rights in their own states — i.e. ‘Don’t mess with labor.’ And Democrats argue that could extend to other divisive budget-cutting issues like reforming Medicare.

Nate Silver

Mr. Walker carried the six districts on Tuesday’s recall ballot by an average of 13 percentage points in 2010 — better than his statewide margin of 6 percentage points. If Democrats were to split the vote across these districts about evenly, that would be a reasonably troubling sign for Mr. Walker, however many of the seats Democrats actually win.

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