Media Hype

06.06.12

Wisconsin Exit Polls: Obama, (Pretty) Big

Forget this media silliness: Wisconsin will be blue in November. Plus, more coverage: John Avlon on the top 3 conclusions from Wisconsin, Ben Jacobs on Obama's takeaway, and Michelle Cottle on how the victory juices the Tea Party, and Michael Medved on how anger backfired.

I never got very invested in the recall Walker movement. I was cheering for the other outcome, obviously, but I always figured recalling a governor after just two years in office when he's not accused of a crime is a pretty tall order. You see I didn't write that much about it. The margin of Walker's win is a little surprising, but then, he outspent the other side six or seven to one.

As Frum notes over on his blog, the outcome points to a bleak future for public-employee unions, where the next decade will likely see "its pay relentlessly ground down, as private sector pay has been ground down over the decade past." The scope of this loss ought to make these unions and the Democratic Party think twice about what their long-term strategy is going to be here. They're not going to win recall elections against governors who do things they don't like, and even Democratic governors are going after their benefits. It's a terrible thing that the pressure on all wages (except for the top 5 percent or so) is downward, and that private and public employees making, say, $45,000 a year are being pitted against each other, but that's the situation.

Video screenshot

Watch Scott Walker's speech after winning the close election.

The political outcome I really cared about was the exit poll question showing Obama beating Romney. By how much it's hard to say. The first wave had Obama plus six, then later on MSNBC I saw plus 12, which I also saw here, at Business Insider. The Washington Post put it at nine. So let's be conservative and call it seven.

Folks, if ever there was a day in the history of Wisconsin polling that should have shown Romney within spitting distance of Obama--or even ahead, given the obviously massive pro-Walker turnout--it should have been yesterday, which was the biggest and most enthusiastic day for Republican politics in recent state history. Yes, Romney should have been ahead, or at the very least tied. Instead, the same electorate that gave Walker this huge win said it would reelect the president handily. On the presidential level, Wisconsin is a blue state. Let's look at a few numbers.

First, turnout. Yesterday, about 2.5 million people voted. In 2010, it was 2.15 million. In 2008, it was 2.93 million. Assume a turnout in November of around 2.7 million, maybe 2.8. In general, higher turnout favors Democrats, as we know. So the plus six or 11 or whatever Obama advantage from yesterday is probably, if anything, a tad low.

Second, one interesting exit-poll question showed that 17 percent of Obama supporters voted for Walker. These are probably independents for whom the whole public-employee fight is old news and who never really had a dog in that fight in the first place. They presumably just didn't feel recalling a governor who was doing, after all, what he said as a candidate he was going to do was fair. So that's quite a lot of votes that went to Walker that are presumptive Obama voters in the fall.

I'm telling you and have been telling you: I don't know whether Obama wins Wisconsin by 10 or two, but he'll win it. This media drivel today is silly. There is truth to the argument that the percentage of self-identified conservatives has been on the rise in the state, but there are just all kinds of reasons that Rob Johnson's Senate win over a sleepwalking Feingold or Walker's win yesterday over a not-very-inspiring candidate translate to presidential politics. And Obama ain't gonna be outspent by no seven to one.

We'll see some polls a month from now, after this has settled down. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. I'm perfectly willing to point out things that are problematic for my side. North Carolina and Florida, for example, are obviously big hurdles for Obama. Pennsylvania could be a sleeper problem. But very little about Wisconsin suggests a GOP win there.