Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Recall vote opens in Wisconsin

* It’s decision time: After months and months of drama, today the voters have their say in elections to recall six GOP state senators who helped Scott Walker pass his onerous budgeting and anti-union proposals, which triggered a massive backlash that has turned Wisconsin into a dress rehearsal of sorts for 2012 and ground zero in the national war over the future of organized labor.

It will all be decided by turnout, and what’s got both sides nervous, as Dem pollster Mark Mellman told me the other day , is that there’s no precedent of any kind to predict turnout in a slate of six off-year recall elections. Andy Kroll has an eye-opening glimpse into the scope of the Dem/labor turnout operation. And National Review writer Robert Costa says “Republicans are worried” because Dems have energy on their side and are on track to oust GOP state senators Dan Kapanke and Randy Hopper, and only need to win one of two races against Alberta Darling and Luther Olsen, both of which remain very close calls, to take back the state senate.

As Chris Bowers rightly notes, the three races that will likely decide the outcome are those to recall Hopper, Darling, and Olsen — and there’s simply no predictive model in existence for the elections that are taking place today.

Whatever ends up happening, Wisconsin Dems and labor have already succeeded in one sense: They reminded us that it’s possible to build a grass roots movement by effectively utilizing the sort of unabashed and bare-knuckled class-based populism that makes many of today’s national Dems queasy. Their effort — whether or not they take back the state senate — could provide a model for a more aggressive, populist approach for national Dems in 2012.
Read the rest here.

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