August 15, 2011

Anybody Recall Wisconsin? One More Merry Round to Go!

Hatched by Dafydd

Tomorrow marks the final round of recall elections in tattered and bedraggled Wisconsin. I suspect Badger-State voters are thoroughly disgusted, worn out, and getting angrier by the minute; but they can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But of course, Wisconsin Democrats are already plotting yet another round of recall elections in 2012, the moment Republicans elected in 2010 are eligible for being recalled. Evidently, waiting all those months for the normal elections in November is just too great a burden for the Left to be asked to bear.

Attention: Due to the present economic emergency and energy crisis, the light at the end of the tunnel has been temporarily turned off. Please check back later.

The two Democratic state senators on the chopping block this round are:

  • Robert Wirch, 22nd district, challenged by attorney Jonathan Steitz
  • Jim Holperin, 12th district, challenged by Kim Simac, founder of a tea party group in Wisconsin

Both state senators are among those who fled the state to prevent democracy from taking place.

Current polling is wildly divergent: What appears to be a conservative web site, Red Racing Horses, commissioned a poll by We Ask America that found the Holperin-Simac race to be within two points; by contrast, the Daily Kos commissioned a poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP, affiliated with the Democratic National Committee) that found Holperin ahead of Ms. Simac by 14 points, 55-41.

Everyone seems to agree that Democrat Wirch in the other race is in a better position than Holperin; at least, Wirch appears to be favored against his challenger by both sides.

Both polls are for public consumption -- that is, for propaganda and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) purposes, so it's hard to take either of them seriously; there are many ways to manipulate the results of a poll, if that is your intent (which it likely is in both cases). Besides, the Washington Post's Rachel Weiner suggests that both polls are "automated," meaning robo-calls where respondents, whoever they are, poke buttons on the phone to indicate their preferences:

Polls are not much help in predicting the contests’ outcome. Republicans are touting an automated survey that showed the race for Holperin’s seat as too-close-to-call. Democrats counter by pointing to an automated poll that shows both Holperin and Wirch with double-digit leads. (The Washington Post does not publish automated poll results.)

Such polls can be well conducted or utterly meaningless, depending on how well they control for getting the specific respondents they're targeting (rather than the fourteen year old babysitter who answers that evening) and how persistent they are (to avoid the self-selection fallacy). But the WaPo sees both races as volatile and close:

"Our polling shows a bump [in the Holperin race] after last Tuesday’s election, that it’s neck and neck," said Adam Temple, spokesperson for the Republican State Leadership Committee. "It’s anybodys race at this point."

Democrats agree that the Holperin race will be tight.

Polling suggesting these races should be easy is wrong,” said Kelly Steele, spokesman for the labor coalition We Are Wisconsin. "Anyone in the know here will tell you Holperin is a toss-up, and the activity on the ground in the district ... along with the huge TV dump on the Republican side suggests they’re definitely pulling out all the stops. Wirch is safer, but by no means a lock."

Those who can remember all the way back to last Tuesday will recall that the Democrats needed to win three of the six recall elections against the Republicans, but they won only two. That leaves Republicans still in control of the state Senate... but by the thinnest possible margin. Democrats are already wooing several Republicans, hoping to get a defection -- always a distinct possibility when only one is needed: When politicians are told they can name their own price, it takes a stronger character than most of them possess to stand on principle.

But if the GOP can capture one or both of the two Democratic seats up for grabs tomorrow, that will make it much less likely that any Republican will defect. Who in the world would want to be the only defecter when two are needed? He would be defecting from the majority to the minority!

I believe the safest bet is to assume the Holperin race will be close, thus will be won by GOTV -- how many voters each side can motivate to the ballot booth. I suspect turnout for both races will be significantly lower than last week's, since the majority in the Wisconsin state Senate is no longer at stake; that means activists will be much more important, both pro and con.

I can't begin to predict the outcome; but then, neither can anybody else, except partisans confidently prophesying a landslide for their guy (or gal, in Simac's case). But keep watching the styes for tomorrow's tumult!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 15, 2011, at the time of 1:22 PM

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