Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

A lesson for progressives from Wisconsin/corrected and updated

Posted by Charles II on June 5, 2012

The results are still coming in, but it looks as though Walker has retained his seat. Given that Republicans vote lockstep, Kleefisch is almost guaranteed election.

Now, this is beyond disappointing. It’s devastating. The Democrats will point to the 8:1 advantage in funding that Walker had, and that’s unquestionably important. [Chris Cilizza says that some Democrats also blame the multi-candidate primary]. He also says that, “Walker is a damn good campaigner”. Since what I witnessed from Barrett was certainly adequate but not something that would energize me, maybe my assessment of him as a candidate is too weak.

But the early numbers suggest to me that Democrats did not even get a third of the people who signed the recall petition to vote, while Republicans got most Party members/Republican leaners to vote [final numbers show that Barrett did turn out 200,000 more voters than signed the recall petition]. Only 33% of union households even voted [This is incorrect. crosstabs show that 33% of voters were from union households, but that 38% voted for Walker. This seems at odds with the WaPo report that people who were in union households but not union members split almost evenly]. Many people who intend to vote for Obama voted for Walker. Independents almost certainly swung the race. We’ll have to see what the crosstabs say. Me, I think Barrett was the wrong candidate, but he was the only one with the name recognition to have a chance in a four week campaign. And the failure of Obama to campaign for Barrett was a major, major misstep.

The lesson that I hope lefties are taking home is that the masses are not just waiting for a revolution, and that grassroots politics is not enough unless your grassroots reach everywhere, especially into independent households. The electronic propaganda smog makes a huge difference, and will right up until the moment when people are out on the streets and can no longer watch/listen.

This is why Democrats care so little about their liberal base. That base makes up a declining fraction of contributions (thanks to the destruction of the middle class) and a not very important part of the electorate, because they are failing to connect with the broader population. This is sad because liberal policy, especially economic policy, is generally pretty sensible. But great ideas go nowhere unless they have a good sales pitch.

It’s a bad day for the United States of America. But maybe we can learn from this.

Finally, I am now less convinced that Walker will be indicted. Prosecutors (outside of Alabama and a few other choice locations) don’t let politics dictate who they indict, but they would hesitate to prosecute a man who has just been re-elected. The judicial branch is supposed to stay clear of meddling in elections. Most people in that branch, even pretty conservative ones, are careful in that regard.

Via ks, at Sideshow, Matt Stoller at Naked Capitalism thinks that the problem is that people are simply not drawn to centrists like Barrett. Where I differ from him is that progressives had a chance in their primary to nominate a true progressive, and they did not. And this pattern has repeated in district after district. Ilya Sheyman. Eric Griego.

Blaming Obama is a nice, easy, persuasive answer that happens to be rather obviously wrong. Blame the lack of fire among Democrats, but don’t single Obama out as being the sole cause.

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4 Responses to “A lesson for progressives from Wisconsin/corrected and updated”

  1. Mark Gisleson said

    Bitterly disappointing indeed, but what I hear about these prosecutors makes me think they’re going ahead no matter what. The scuttlebutt is that they’ve got a lot, enough in fact to make a lot of today’s Walker voters feel very foolish.

    But there’s no way around the fact that this sucks. I feel for my friends in Wisconsin, I really do.

    • Charles II said

      Unless you have friends in the prosecutor’s office that you are on bedroom terms with, I wouldn’t take anything your hear too seriously.

      Another point: Herb Kohl could have financed Barrett all on his own. As far as I can tell, he’d didn’t give him a dime.

      • Mark Gisleson said

        The intelligible post-election analysis is saying that the left chose to ignore polling data that a clear majority of cheeseheads thought the election should stand — no do-overs.

        And I’m sure $50 million worth of rightwing propaganda flooding their airwaves did nothing to encourage that POV….

      • Charles II said

        When an election hinges on a swing of 3-4% of voters, almost anything could be labeled the cause, Mark. A shockingly high number of non-union members living in union households voted for Walker, for example. Nearly half of self-described moderates saw Walker as their guy.

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