Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s overwhelming victory in June that staved off a recall attempt by Democrats and their allies initially signaled to national Republicans that the Presidential race was up for grabs and that Mitt Romney had a chance to win the state that voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Romney made an even further push for Wisconsin by naming Representative Paul Ryan from Janesville, Wisconsin as his Vice-Presidential running mate. However, as the November election draws near, polls still show the Presidential has the lead in Wisconsin over Romney with only a month and a half before Election Day.
Why hasn’t the Romney campaign been able to turn Wisconsin into a Republican state in the Presidential year? The answer is quite simple. At first glance, Walker’s win over Democrat Tom Barrett was a result of a galvanized voter base on the Republican side who supported Walker’s tough stances on issues related to unions and collective bargaining. Recall elections bring out more grassroots voters. Those voters are emotionally attached to the election and its outcome.
Presidential elections bring out voters who are emotionally attached to an election outcome but also they bring out those voters who are considered to be low information voters. Low information voters tend to pay attention to elections within a month of the actual voting day. They have less of a connection to the candidates who are running for office and the issues being discussed by those candidates. Low information voters may very well be what President Obama needs to get re-elected.
Also, there are more college students and younger voters available to vote in Wisconsin in cold November than there were in warm month of June. They, too, will play a role in the outcome. Tea Party Republicans and grassroots organizers must be able turn out in higher numbers than they did in June in order to give Romney a shot at winning Wisconsin.
There is little data correlating a recall election outcome to a Presidential election, in that there have been very few recall elections at the state level in the United States. Even so, when Arnold Schwarzenegger won in the recall election Gray Davis in 2003, Democrats still voted for John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008 for President. Even with little data available related to the correlation of recall elections to Presidential elections, it is safe to assume that there will be a different bloc headed to the voting booth which could make a Walker victory a moot issue for the Romney campaign.
What are your thoughts?