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Wednesday 6 June 2012

Total Non Recall

[Update at end of post]

The Presidential Election is not until November, but voters in the state of Wisconsin were able to cast their votes yesterday in a recall election. Over a million signatures had been obtained in pursuit of the electorate having another chance to pass judgment on Governor Scott Walker, a Republican who had engaged in a bitter battle with state workers over bargaining rights.

Walker won, and so the right has been baying and cat-calling: across the blogosphere, claims have been made as to who it was that won it. But there was more than one election: the state senate majority changed hands from Republican to Democrat, so the people have spoken, and their verdict is that the two protagonists must try agreeing with one another, or nothing will get passed.

Moreover, when voters were asked who they would support in November, they responded with a 53 to 42 verdict: Obama over Romney. This is less than the 14 point margin that the Prez had over John McCain in 2008, but it’s very different to Walker winning his recall. So why the apparent disconnect? Well, firstly, not enough voters thought Walker should be dumped short of his term.

Then there is the inevitable spectre of money: Walker vastly outspent his Democrat opponent Tom Barrett, by around $30 million to $4 million (yes, that’s $34 million just on campaigning for one election in one state). Could the GOP replicate that kind of expenditure across the USA? Doubtful. There are limits even to the largesse of Republican donors, and the power of the Super PACs.

But, as with the UK, the ability of politicians and pundits to extrapolate from a single mid-term result has taken over, with the euphoria spreading even to the UK. The idea that Mitt Romney might win the Presidency because of Scott Walker is being floated, despite the state having been won by both Al Gore in 2000, and even John Kerry in 2004 (Bill Clinton won it both times).

So over at Telegraph Blogs there is the sight of Graeme Archer askingWhere is Britain’s Scott Walker – a politician who will make us face reality?” and then answering – no, don’t laugh – that this one politician is “Oiky” Gove. Archer is supported by Damian Thompson who sniggers “Wisconsin: MSNBC in denial, and posts a selectively cut clip of Last Word host Lawrence O’Donnell.

Thompson edits his video down to a mere ten seconds, which I’m sure he and the more easily led commenters will love, but O’Donnell’s point in calling Barack Obama the “big winner” was this: the Prez polled 53-42 with voters (Wisconsin has a large number of registered Independents, many of whom backed Walker but voted Obama in 2008), despite all the money being thrown around by the GOP.

And if that margin endures, he’ll be the big winner in November as well.

[UPDATE 7 June 1100 hours: the Wisconsin result has also been suitably spun by James "saviour of Western civilisation" Delingpole, who in characteristically modest tones tells "How Wisconsin and Alabama just helped save the world". Del Boy echoes the rest of the right leaning pundits by erroneously assuming that Scott Walker's victory will be some kind of game changer for Mitt Romney.

He also cites a vote in Alabama against Agenda 21. What that? Well, this is a UN action plan on things environmental. But in parts of the USA it is seen as some kind of global conspiracy, despite the country having been a signatory and a participant in the preceding negotiations - under a Republican Presidency.

Sadly, Delingpole sprays his credibility up the wall by citing The New American, journal of the frankly paranoid John Birch Society, one of whose past campaigns inspired Terry Southern's creation General Jack D Ripper in the film Dr Strangelove (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb).

Clearly, Del Boy is not himself paranoid, but that doesn't mean they're not out to get him]

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