It has been an incredibly interesting summer in politics, both nationally and locally. There is about to be a flurry of campaign events, ads, and editorials for the coming November election. I shall be doing the latter for the next two months like hell.
The recall election was an incredible event. A recall election itself is extraordinarily rare, and in a competitive one, it is very difficult to win against an incumbent who hasn’t been charged with criminal or ethical misconduct. In Wisconsin’s case, it was an exact repeat of the 2010 gubernatorial election, with Walker winning by a similar margin. But there are a few important lessons from that. Walker had an advantage early on when the Democrats were figuring out their candidate to face him in the recall. He had incumbency name recognition and a list of things he had done as governor. The democrats could run general ads, but without a candidate, they could not buildup support far beyond the grassroots of the recall movement. The greater thing to note though is the money. Tom Barrett was outspent in the election by a margin of more than 20:1. I don’t care if you are running a platform of world peace and unicorns, if I outspend you by that much, I can beat you on a platform of nuclear war and arsenic. And 2/3’s of Walker’s money came from out of state. Unfortunately, money makes elections in America, and without reform of that we will be saturated with more special interest candidates. Walker was successful in making the election a divisive fight of public sector workers vs. private sector workers, while dismissing much of the criticism of his other policies. He said it himself, divide and conquer to turn the state red. Lastly, even as the electorate of Wisconsin voted Walker in, exit polls showed a 52% favorability for Obama against Romney, showing that it was swing voters who were skeptical of the recall election, and that they are obviously be more inclined to voter for Obama. The fact the election took place at all is a testament to the grass roots organization of tens of thousands of people who were given little aid from the national party. Anyone who participated in the organization behind the scenes should feel immensely proud of the work they did. It was not an effort in vain.
I was ecstatic when the Healthcare law was upheld by the Supreme Court. Justice Kennedy did a great job exercising judicial restraint by working with the law, upholding the majority of it, and ignoring the partisan calls to completely wipe the law. What was really great was the Republicans crying and moaning after it happened, like Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who like so many of the hyperbole machines, talked about how the health care law was detrimental to freedom, even though its below par of what most of the civilized world has for healthcare, and is something the Republicans once advocated. During the debates on Medicare, Saint Ronald Reagan said Medicare was socialized medicine and would lead to the similar apocalyptic scenario that republicans have been predicting with Obamacare. Now they love Medicare, and talk about how they are the true defenders of it. I assume that in 20 years, the Republicans will be talking about how they love Obamacare and are trying to preserve it from Democrats.
I’m still quite confident on Obamas odds for the November election. I use Fivethirtyeight.com to check up on the statistical odds, and right now they have him a heavy favorite at about 80% of winning. Intellectually and politically however it is a no contest for Obama. By no means do I think the election will be a coast for Obama, but he needs to merely take advantage of the low hanging fruit that the Republicans have supplied in every inch of their platform and smash it like a piñata. The ideological debate of this election has and will be a weak one. It will not be a substantive discussion but a clusterbarf of fringe rhetoric from Romney and his debate coaches that will fail to highlight actual ideas that could be used to produce actual policy. He’s been on every side of the issues, which leads me to the conclusion that even he can’t sincerely believe how far his ticket is veering, if only to produce that magical 50.1% he craves.
This was originally produced for the Flipside, a publication on campus in Eau Claire.