Spinning aside, the GOP lost

It’s been interesting to read the various post-mortems and comments after Tuesday’s recall elections in six Republican districts. There was some real hand-wringing going on among some on the Democratic side over the fact that they failed to win three seats and wrest the majority away from the GOP in the state Senate. While that would have been great, I always thought it was a lot to expect. There was also some interesting bravado and football spiking on the GOP side, which I found a bit curious. Of course, part of the fun is listening to the spin and for that, we need those different perspectives.

“I am pleased voters agreed that we are on the right path here in Wisconsin,” Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, said. (Context: his brother, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, had just lost more than 10 percent of his delegation. If Jeff sees that as some kind of ringing endorsement, then that’s a little puzzling.)

“The Republican Party won a great victory over the Big Union bosses and Obama Democrats last night,” trumpeted Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. “The people have given their seal of approval to Republicans’ successful efforts to balance the budget and ensure a healthy economy…” (Really, Reince? Throwing two of your people out in the middle of their terms is a great victory? Since that’s the case, let me be the first to wish you another great victory in November 2012. Being able to duplicate Tuesday’s night’s triumph would mean losing one third of the races in which your incumbents up for re-election.)

My favorite take came from someone on Twitter: “The Republicans went to Las Vegas with $6,000 and came home with $4,000. That’s not beating the casinos.”

The Democrats always had an uphill climb and it all took place in Republican districts, but here’s how it stacks up, so far. In 2011 – a non-election year – the Republican majority in the Senate has dipped from 19-14 in January down to 17-16 in August. They’ve also lost an Assembly seat to the Democrats that was left vacant when former GOP Rep. Mike Huebsch left to become Secretary of the Dept. of Administration. They’ve spent tens of millions to successfully defend a Supreme Court justice who should have easily walked away with his race and four Republican Senators.

Two recall elections remain next Tuesday, but there is essentially no opportunity for the Republicans to break even and a very good chance they’ll get nothing back at all. So the Democrats have much more to show for their efforts and while incremental progress may require more patience than a lot of people have, it is still exactly that.

The Republicans want you to believe they brought home the win with a score of 4-2 on August 9, but the only thing they’ve won so far is the chance to defend seven Senate seats in November 2012 instead of nine. They lost. The score was 2-0 because they had no chance to score points. We can debate whether it was worth it, but not the body count.


Here’s an interesting analysis of a possible Walker recall based on Tuesday’s results. Note that subsequent to its posting, the Cowles margin has been determined to closer to 56 percent, rather than the 60 percent cited:


For the record, I would be very cautious about the idea of a Walker recall until the prospects for its success are far better known than they are right now. The $20 million or more that such an all-or-nothing bid could cost would go a long way in the legislative races already on the docket in 2012. Having Walker play the part of the villain for two more cycles instead of just one could have some value, too — but a miscue giving him a mid-term win could be more costly than the money.

* * *

John Nichols: Walker throws Kapanke and Hopper under the bus —



5 Responses to “Spinning aside, the GOP lost”

  1. Paul Henning Says:

    Didn’t you read your own title, “Spinning aside, the GOP lost” ?!

    “Spinning aside”!! You must be joking! It’s nothing but! You turn a 4-2 loss into a 2-0 win? The Dems could have lost all six and you would somehow turn it into a win. You and I both know that the actual target was turning the Senate. That did not happen. Game, set, match. Hello! Can you say “denial”?

    I guess it’s your dream. You can make it as big as you want it to be. You are entertaining though, I’ll give you that.
    Regards, P.H.

  2. Paul, you’re entertaining too! 🙂

  3. Wausau Public School Teacher (sorry, can't afford to risk retribution) Says:

    I disagree that this is a clear loss for the Republicans. Kapanke’s district certainly is not Republican turf, in fact- it was recently held by a democrat. Hopper’s seat certainly is a a Republican seat- but Hopper is a disgusting human being. If he would have not had his self induced moronic political baggage, he likely would have won. Moore got creamed- people still hate WEAC. Darling improved her vote % from 2008, not sure if anything can be gleaned from that? Olsen’s race was close for being such a Republican district, I concede that Dems may have left that one on the table. Fred Clark was a terrible candidate- a better dem may have beat Olson. Clark looked and sounded way to much like a serial killer.

    All in all a mixed bag- but I say the Republicans did as well as expected. The Dems made a big dent in the Republican majority- but given the dynamics of all this- I call it small victory for the Republicans.

    As an aside, Graeme Zielinski’s conduct on election night was reprehensible. Mr. Rosenberg, the democratic party should act swiftly in firing him.

    I wish I could be public in my views. I am not a bomb thrower, and I don’t call people names. But alas, because of my job I feel I have to hide my opinions in fear of risking retaliation from some of my less measured co-workers.

    Thanks for the forum.

  4. Thanks for your comments. While it is true that the 32nd State Senate District was held by a Democrat from 2000-2004, it was held for 16 years prior to that by Republican Brian Rude and since 2004 by Republican Dan Kapanke. The typical makeup has been two GOP Assembly representatives, too.

  5. Wausau Public School Teacher (sorry, can't afford to risk retribution) Says:

    Ah yes, Brian Rude from Coon Valley- the tallest man ever to serve in the Wisconsin State Senate. It would not be a complete surprise to see him back again. I see Kind running for Gov in 2014- and Schilling running for Kind’s seat. Rude would be a good choice for the Republicans for either seat. He works for a utility in Lacrosse, 2 acquaintances of mine work with him, one a righty and one a lefty. They both say they will support him if he ever runs again. I think he has that cross over appeal- much like Klug did in being able to carry the district now held by Baldwin. BTW- a Klug entry in that race would be good political theater when Baldwin jumps to run for the Senate

    Probably will never happen-but political junkies can dream.

    Thanks for the forum.

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