With the media focused on the budget battle(s) occurring in Washington a couple of important elections occurred in Wisconsin that may shed some light on voter response to Governor Scott Walker’s battle with labor. In a statewide election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court Joanne Kloppenburg, supported heavily by Democrats, defeated Republican incumbent David Prosser. The margin was very small and may require a recount, but it is quite the turnaround from the primary results, in which Prosser led Kloppenburg by a wide margin (55% to 25%). But that primary election was right around the time that the first volley was being fired by Governor Walker.
In a second race Democrat Chris Abele defeated Republican Jeff Stone for the position of Milwaukee County Executive. Abele had lost the primary to Stone by 18% (43% to 25%), but won the final by 22% (61% to 39%). While there may be extra-Walker factors at work here that level of turnaround cannot simply be dismissed without reference to the Scott Walker/labor dispute. I wrote about this race in a post a couple of days ago, and it looks like Democrats who may have had a tendency to stray are now returning home. Political overreach is inevitably followed by political backlash, which Governor Walker is experiencing right now. For the Wisconsin Republican Senators subject to recall, especially those in traditional Democratic districts, the bell is now tolling. More Democratic victories may temper some Republican enthusiasm for death match politics, maybe even in Washington.