It is tempting, but not entirely accurate, to say "Obama Loses!" after Democrats suffered another embarrassing defeat last night when the effort to recall Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker failed by the surprisingly wide margin of 55 percent to 44 percent for the Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. An independent got about one percent of the vote.
As of this writing, with 76 percent of Wisconsin's precincts reporting, it's over. Walker wins.
Much of the Political Punditry Class has been touting this as a preview of the 2012 Presidential election, but now that the Republican won, don't expect to hear too much of that kind of talk.
In fact, the ink was barely dry on the headlines when the word went forth that it was actually a good night for Obama because the exit polling showed Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney 51-45.
This is being spun by the Obama team as a victory even though Obama won Wisconsin by a 56-42 margin over John McCain in 2008.
An exit poll showing the incumbent President just barely over 50 percent does not a victory make, seems to me.
Even at that, the real issue at the national level isn't whether Obama wins Wisconsin in November, the real issue is the highly touted union-backed turnout operation fell short.
Recently the Obama campaign sent the campaign manager, Jim Messina, to Capitol Hill to calm nervous U.S. Senators about the lack of enthusiasm for Obama that they are feeling in their home states.
According to The Hill newspaper, Messina focused on the campaign's ground game and "avoided other hot-button issues" like the ads attacking private capital. Reporter Bernie Becker quoted Messina as saying:
"They understand that we're building the best grassroots campaign in modern American political history, and that'll help all Democrats up and down the ticket."
Yeah. Well. If the Wisconsin operation was a test run, the Obama campaign might need to go back and do some re-sodding.
The Obamas will claim that they kept hands off the Wisconsin recall election. If that is so, the question then becomes: Why?
The Obama campaign has made it clear it's every Democratic man and woman for themselves when it comes to fundraising for the Fall campaign. The White House has, reportedly, only agreed to sign one fundraising letter for each of the two Democratic campaign committees.
If the Supreme Court knocks down some or all of the ObamaCare legislation, the White House will be hard pressed to get Democrats to walk the plank and attempt to rewrite the law to correct any Constitutional flaws.
That hoarding of resources by Obama was in play last night as, according to the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza wrote
"As of Monday, more than $63 million had been spent on the recall fight with Walker and his conservative allies vastly outspending Barrett and other Democratic-aligned groups."
If money is the issue, then it is likely that Fall campaign for President will be very tight, indeed. It also signals Dems in the House and Senate are in for a rough ride as GOP-based Super PACs are poised to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Republican candidates.
Democrats are appropriately pointing to the rules of the recall election. A bitter primary for the right to challenge Gov. Walker was concluded only about a month ago, barely allowing the wounds between Barrett and Dane County (Madison) Executive Kathleen Falk to heal.
They are suggesting the bruising primary battle among Republican Presidential hopefuls will cause a similar reduction in enthusiasm for Mitt Romney.
Republicans effectively settled the issue the week of the Pennsylvania primary when Rick Santorum called it quits. That leaves plenty of time for the supporters of the other candidates to get in behind Mitt Romney.
The question which continues to hang in the air will be how much damage has been done to the already brittle alliance between Obama and the unions. The decision to block construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline was widely seen as Obama siding with the Greens against the construction unions.
No one believes that the union vote will suddenly swing toward Romney, but the Wisconsin result does point to a potential problem in what's known as the "enthusiasm gap" between Liberal supporters of Obama and Conservative supporters of Romney.
If the major elections in November - House, Senate, and President - are going to be decided on money and turnout, last night's result in Wisconsin was a win for Walker, but demonstrated that any hope of a unified Democratic strategy heading into the Fall is very unlikely and therefore a loss for Obama.
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