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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Election Is Over, But The Spin Is Just Beginning

"The difference between a welfare state and a totalitarian state is a matter of time." — Ayn Rand

Last night I received an e-mail alert from the New York Times stating “Scott Walker, the embattled Republican governor of Wisconsin, narrowly survived a recall vote on Tuesday, defeating a union-led effort to remove him from office for pushing laws to restrict the collective bargaining rights of state workers.”

What caught my eye was the use of the adverb “Narrowly” in the lead statement of the NYT. I had just finished watching the Wisconsin recall election coverage and at the time I turned it off Walker was ahead by 10 points with 88% of the ballots counted and his opponent Tom Barrett had just given his concession speech. (Walker’s final margin of victory was 7%, pretty much as the polls predicted).

When I opened the link to the Times article I saw a different report on the election than the lead stated. In the article it stated that Walker “soundly defeated Barrett. How interesting that the Times headline writer thinks 7 points is a “narrow” margin. But, this is just the beginning of the spin the progressives will put on the election rather than looking at the plain and simple truth — the voters are feed up with large government union pensions and benefit programs.

In a related, but little reported, election the voters in California’s San Jose and San Diego Counties overwhelmingly approved measures to cut retirement benefits for city workers. In San Diego, 67 percent voted in favor of Proposition B while 33 percent were opposed. The margin in San Jose was even wider, with 71 percent in favor of Measure B and 29 percent opposed

Fox News Reported:

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed called the vote a victory for fiscal reform.

"The voters get it, they understand what needs to be done," he said in an interview.

Supporters had a straightforward pitch: Pensions for city workers are unaffordable and more generous than many private companies offer, forcing libraries to slash hours and potholes to go unfilled.

"We believe people are tired of having services cut back because of big pensions," San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican who is being forced from office by term limits, said recently.

Shrinking tax revenues during the recession are also responsible for service cuts, but pensions are an easy target. San Diego's payments to the city's retirement fund soared from $43 million in 1999 to $231.2 million this year, equal to 20 percent of the city's general fund budget, which pays for day-to-day operations.

As the pension payments grew, San Diego's 1.3 million residents saw roads deteriorate and libraries and recreation centers cut hours. For a while, some fire stations had to share engines and trucks. The city has cut its workforce 14 percent to 10,100 employees since Sanders took office in 2005.

San Jose's pension payments jumped from $73 million in 2001 to $245 million this year, equal to 27 percent of its general fund budget. Voters there approved construction bonds at the beginning of the last decade, but four new libraries and a police station have never opened because the city cannot afford to operate them. The city of 960,000 cut its workforce 27 percent to 5,400 over the last 10 years.

Opponents, led by public employee unions, say the measures deprive workers of benefits they were counting on when they got hired. Some workers decided against potentially more lucrative jobs with private companies, figuring their retirement was relatively safe.

"This is part of a broader effort to attack workers and to make their lives miserable," San Diego Councilman Todd Gloria said during a debate on the San Diego measure.

Thom Reilly, former manager of Clark County, Nev., and now a professor of social work at San Diego State University, said opponents face a difficult task. He expects the California measures may spawn similar efforts elsewhere if they pass.

"The ones who are actually paying the taxes will never see these benefits in their lifetimes, so there's not a lot of sympathy in the public," he said.”

The "it's gonna be a late night in Madison" notion was virtually over by the end of Happy Hour — which no doubt did cause some very late nights instead in Washington and Chicago. With little or no happiness at all. And naturally there were also the comparisons to the vibes of the night Scott Brown took down the Kennedy seat in 2009

The real story is: what happened this spring in Wisconsin was not a recall election at all. Pure and simple, it was a mulligan. A childish do-over. Moreover, it was a battle of government union members and their families against pretty much everyone else. And when that really crystallized in the minds of the voters, the unions' cause was doomed. The name Tom Barrett is irrelevant here. The biggest losers last night — and there were many — were big labor generally and public service unions specifically, and it’s about time.

Succinctly put, the petty, protected, pampered lefty government and teachers unions — still indignant over Scott Walker's 2010 win — simply threw a 75 million dollar tantrum as a third do over on that same election. And the unions' reward from the citizens of Wisconsin for a year and a half of hell was a resounding "go to hell" of epic proportions. And if anyone doubts that there is a God — and that He has a sense of humor — the Wisconsin State Motto is, yep, "Forward."

You can't make this stuff up.

Making stuff up, however, is what the entire leftist media-Democratic Party complex is doing today, blaming everything and everyone from the Citizens United decision, voter fraud, a bogus robo-call, George Bush — and probably even Brett Favre. MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell even pretended the election did not happen, focusing on Mitt Romney's job creation record in Massachusetts instead. It's all very funny. And satisfying.

Now the losers:

Big Labor: Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell didn't want to admit it on Fox, but big labor was absolutely the huge loser last night and in fact, they have been losing ever since Walker took office. It was the behavior of the unions in the Madison riots that really started the general public's focusing in on just how much these "public servants" are now making in salaries, pensions and health care, and how damned entitled they feel to all of this. That is what started all of this mess. The public was also tuned in to the unseemly nature of public sector unions per se and their relationship with politicians they get elected. And perhaps most devastating of all is the fact that some government unions in Wisconsin have lost over half of their own membership during this protracted battle. And oh by the way, public sector unions started in Wisconsin —in 1959.

Democratic Party: It goes without saying that if big labor loses, the Democratic Party loses. Actually, we have Wisconsin to thank that this now goes without saying. The past 21 months have been a highly visible object lesson for all to see. Moreover, the Democrats have lost much of their built in fund raising via the union mechanism thanks to some of Walker's reforms.

MSM and their exit polling: As 9pm EDT rolled around last night, all media outlets were buzzing with word that the exit polls were 50-50 and Ed Schultz was settling in "for a long night." He had no idea at the time. These exit polls excited the same fantasies that these same media outlets had been feeding that "the race was tightening" in the final week. Actually, it was not tightening at all. One thing the exit polls showed was that almost everybody who voted had long made up their minds. And why not? You're either on the public sector gravy train or you’re not. What's to decide? ow this escaped the geniuses in the media is another story. But they lost last night in a big way.

Obama: This one is a no brainer, and was pretty much obvious when he decided to avoid Wisconsin this week like yellow in the game Twister. But it goes deeper than that. His failure to do more than send a last minute Twitter message in support of Barrett has to infuriate the unions, who have in the past done so much to get Obama and other Democrats elected. Looking ahead to November, their coffers are depleted, and enthusiasm for giving money to Obama, manning phone banks, and canvassing drives has to diminish not just in Wisconsin but beyond.

GOP Establishment: Setting Reince Preibus aside for a second, the GOP Establishment took a bit of a whipping last night — because Walker is exactly the kind of Republican the establishment constantly warns us is poison for the party. Preibus gets a lot of grief because he is RNC Chair and they normally deserve it. But Preibus was key to Walker's first win as well as Senator Johnston's defeat of Russ Feingold in 2010. We can only hope that now Preibus will have more influence in the halls of the RNC offices inside the Beltway.

GOP Consultants / Conventional Wisdom See above, but the consultant class deserves their own space in the biggest loser category. They have cost us many elections over the decades, and last night was a huge blow to their entire foundational template. This may be Walker's biggest gift of all to conservatives.

Bipartisanship / No Labels Crowd: The stunning vitriol and passion in this election, along with the results of the recent Pew Research findings, have dealt the notion of "getting along" and bipartisanship a huge blow. Actually, reality is the problem with bipartisanship. This is a nation divided on the role of government and government unions and all of the attendant spending and control in our lives. Many of us knew that already. Those that didn't surely should now, after seeing the last 21 months unfold in Madison and after perusing the Pew results as well.

Julia: The entire nanny state government dependency mindset — as demonstrated by the Obama 2012 cartoon character Julia — took a big whipping last night as well. The folks who pay for all of the government union members and for all of the Julias had a collective awakening and said enough is enough. If there's another installment of Julia, and I suspect there will not be, she would be very unhappy watching MSNBC in last night's episode.

Now, as pleasing as this result is, this is not an indication that Mitt Romney can necessarily come rolling into Wisconsin and win. While Walker,his Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and several State Senators won last night, surveys indicate that even in this environment Romney would have lost. Besides, rarely has Romney shown the cojones on any issue that Walker has shown consistently.

Which brings us to the contrast with the Brown win in 09. The Walker win is even sweeter and more significant. Scott Brown campaigned on tea party principles, and while avoiding the term celebrated those principles in his victory speech. But he has not always voted that way — and will run against Indian Princess Warren as a moderate.

Scott Walker meanwhile campaigned outwardly as a tea party type in 2010, governed that way absolutely — campaigned again as a tea party candidate this year — and won an even bigger victory. Now, in his speech last night, Walker said that "he's committed to working together" and is determined to "put this election behind us." Of course he was sounding the obligatory good winner attitude, as he should have. We all know better. The liberals, their unions, their President, their media — all have to be defeated because there is no working with them. The word compromise only refers to conservatives.

Remember, the left was perfectly fine with money in politics when they thought Barack Obama was going to raise $1 billion with which he would bludgeon the GOP. Now that it is not happening, money in politics is again evil. It is no coincidence that the left seized on this talking point even before the polls closed. They think it sells well. But it doesn’t. Remember in 2010, they tried to claim the Chamber of Commerce was spending foreign money to help the GOP? Lot of good it did them then.

These are also the same people who once told us the Wisconsin recall was a harbinger of GOP overreach and voter retaliation would ensue. Suddenly, the recall means nothing according to these same people. The Chairwoman of the Democratic Party once called last night a “dry run” for the general election.

I maintain that special elections mean very little to general elections. The flawed exit polls were flawed because people who vote in recall elections vote in different ways from general elections. There was a massive union vote in Wisconsin last night. We can conclude that Scott Walker winning big with a big union turnout means even private sector union members hate public sector unions. But we should be careful not to over conclude things based on Wisconsin.

Republicans around the country should take note of that. While I maintain recalls and special elections are not really good indicators of anything beyond the dynamics of those races, there are a few things Wisconsin tells us that do bode ill for President Obama and that are easy to conclude.

The first thing we can conclude is that defense of public sector unions is now a non-starter even in the birthplace of American progressive politics. Union voters voted for Scott Walker. Republicans have a new battle tested issue that sells well even in blue states.

The second thing we can conclude is that the same winning coalition of disaffected independent voters, tea party activists, and Republicans held together in Wisconsin to keep Scott Walker. More importantly, and perhaps most importantly, the demographic shift that saw the Democrats lose their hold over the rustbelt in 2010 has continued to the Democrats’ disadvantage. Couple that shift away from the Democrats with the Republicans’ new found strengths in Appalachia and the Democrats who like to claim Republicans cannot win in New England will have an even harder time winning in the heartland. Both in North Carolina with gay marriage and in Wisconsin with the recall, a real silent majority stood up to be counted and heard.

For all the Democrats’ talk about their growing strength in the west, it is still going to take several decades for them to make up the votes lost in the rust belt and Appalachia. Wisconsin’s recall election shows that the demographic trends against the Democrats are starting to lock in, including losing blue collar white voters and even a number of private sector union workers. Scott Walker won by a larger margin last night than Barack Obama did against John McCain nationally. Nonetheless, some in the media would have you believe Walker only barely got by.

The third thing we can conclude from Wisconsin is that the Republican Party’s use of technology in its Get Out The Vote efforts really paid off. We should be thanking the Democrats for giving us an opportunity for a live test of our new GOTV tools and ground game. Scott Walker’s thumping of Tom Barrett showed the GOP, in a blue state, has the ability to pinpoint voters and get their voters to the polls. 2012 will be the first truly technology driven Presidential campaign, run on iPads and iPhones. The Democrats handed the GOP a marvelous gift of a recall that went on and on and on. By the time everyone got to the gubernatorial recall, the GOP had its GOTV tweaked perfectly.

It exceeded expectations.

The fourth thing we can conclude from Wisconsin is that Barack Obama is extremely nervous. He would not campaign for Tom Barrett. Only on Election Day did he tweet out his support for Barrett in 140 characters. Barack Obama has batted 1000 in seeing those candidates with whom he campaigns for statewide office go down in flames. Despite their bold prognostications that Wisconsin does not matter and all is well and Obama was just too busy, the Democrats know that they poured in a lot of resources only to lose Wisconsin while giving the GOP multiple recall votes to get their GOTV right. It should speak volumes to Democrats everywhere that Bill Clinton was happy to go campaign for Tom Barrett in a state Barack Obama’s campaign considers a swing state, but Barack Obama was not willing to get tied to a loss there.

The fifth thing we can conclude is that exit polling does not work well for recall elections. Consider that voters were evenly split going into the polls on whether they supported Scott Walker’s reforms or not. Likewise, roughly two-thirds of voters either were or were related to union members, which was a bit higher than in 2010. The presuppositions were therefore that this would be close. It’s not so much that the exit polling was wrong, as it was that the presuppositions that went into formulating the exits and, more importantly, into interpreting the exit polling was wrong. The presuppositions the media makes headed into November desperately need to be recalibrated. The media is still operating on FDR Coalition presuppositions in their formulation of and analysis of exit polling data.

The sixth thing we can conclude from Wisconsin is that Barack Obama is still the favorite there, but, while I hate to be repetitive, the Democrats’ continued recall efforts have made the state much more competitive for the GOP in that state.

Here’s one thing I don’t think we can easily conclude, but I would take away from Wisconsin. Anger does not win elections. In November, the GOP should be happy warriors, not angry. Let the left be angry. One of the things the left did in Wisconsin that has not been well reported is send mailers to voters documenting their neighbors’ voting history. Think about that. A leftwing group sent mail pieces to voters trying to shame them into voting by revealing how much or how little they choose to participate in the democratic process. How many voters turned out to vote mad as hell at the left for stooping to this level?

Lastly, I hope the GOP in Washington, which is often afraid of its own shadow is watching this. In Wisconsin, the Republican Governor was willing to pick a fight on a core Democrat issue, stick to his guns, and go through a recall process. And he won. Sometimes, Messrs. Boehner and McConnell, you don’t have to compromise. You can stick to your guns and still win. Perhaps with the overwhelming votes against the public sector unions on San Diego and San Jose counties and the defeat of Prop 29 governor Moonbeam will begin to get the message that Californian are getting ticked off at big government.

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