My, how time flies. Is seems like just yesterday that Wisconsin Democrats suffered consecutive electoral setbacks, only to press forward with their costly recall effort against Scott Walker, undeterred. Now the big day is less than a week away, and liberals are already explaining why whatever happens won't really matter all that much:
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) insisted in a television interview that a loss for the Democratic candidate in the recall, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, wouldn’t have any implications for other races, such as the presidential election. “I think, honestly, there aren’t going to be any repercussions,” Wasserman Schultz said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program. “It’s an election that’s based in Wisconsin.”
Yeah, Debbie. "Honestly." Here's liberal columnist Steve Kornacki arguing essentially the same point:
So, given this polarized, high-interest climate, if the numbers end up breaking the GOP’s way on June 5, how could it not be some kind of harbinger for the fall? Actually, there’s a good reason to think it won’t be: The same polls that have Walker well-positioned to fend off Barrett don’t give Romney quite the same strength. The most recent public survey, released last week by St. Norbert College and Wisconsin Public Radio, put Walker ahead 50 to 45 percent in the recall race and Obama up 49 to 43 percent on the presidential side.
To his credit, Kornacki does point out that another poll showing the presidential race tied in the Badger State, at 46-46. Even so, this surge in feigned ambivalence from the Left could be the surest sign yet that Walker's a lock for, um, "re-election." I can't help but shake the suspicion that if Barrett shocks the world and wins, liberals will be overcome with the fresh realization that Walker's defeat is one of the most important indicators in American political history. But for now, with things looking bleak, "meh" is carrying the day. Make no mistake: The Left -- and especially organized labor -- desperately wants to oust Walker. He campaigned as a conservative, has governed as a conservative, and has thrown the breaks on the nasty little taxpayer-funded union/Democrat gravy train racket that's been running for decades. His reforms are working, and people are noticing, even in a state that hasn't voted for a Republican presidential candidate since before I was born. If Walker's bold, riot-triggering reforms are affirmed by voters next week, it will be a very dark day indeed for a core Democrat constituency. But is DWS right? Would a Walker victory auger almost nothing about the presidential race? I discussed that question on Neil Cavuto's Fox News show earlier in the week, and reached something of a split decision:
In short, the presidential year electorate in Wisconsin will differ from the group that turns out on Tuesday, probably to Barack Obama's benefit, but state Republicans are getting a whole lot of practice motivating and turning out their voters in droves. Remember this? Plus, George W. Bush barely lost Wisconsin twice; could Romney finally flip it red, in light the red tide that has swamped the state over the last two years? We'll see soon enough. Task one: Fortify Walker and give his important reforms an unambiguous vote of confidence. The lasting impact of that outcome on future conservative reformers would be monumental -- regardless of whether Wisconsin becomes a swing state in November.
UPDATE - This just arrived in my inbox, via a pro-Walker group. They're not bashful about making this a national issue and linking it directly to the presidential race:
Before the 2012 elections, conservatives need a reason to believe we can beat Barack Obama. That is why we are forwarding Scott Walker's latest email to you. With the Wisconsin Recall election on June 5th, Governor Walker needs our help.
UPDATE II - Here's Team Walker's latest ad against Barrett, who is coming under fire for the Milwaukee Police Department's apparent goosing of crime stats (via Ed Morrissey):
UPDATE III - For a recap on Friday's Walker/Barrett debate, the Standard's John McCormack has you covered. I watched a fair amount of it on C-SPAN, too. Barrett looked desperate, and Walker never broke a sweat. My favorite bit was the Democrat's comments about ending the "civil war" in Wisconsin. This from the nominee of the party that has been pushing expensive sore loser, do-over elections for two straight years.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography