In the aftermath of Walker’s win, a lot of people are saying, “See! Outside money is determining elections!” The problem with that narrative is that according to CNN’s exit polling, 88% of the voters had decided which way they were going to vote before May. There was a ton of money spent on that election but it looks like a lot of it was wasted.
The result shouldn’t be too surprising. If you look at what has happened to Union membership in Wisconsin since dues have become voluntary, you’ll see that membership has plummeted. Drops of half to two thirds are being reported. If union members aren’t willing to pay for membership to fight for them, what are the odds of nonunion folks voting for them? The public sector unions, and let’s not kid ourselves, that is what this election was about, just aren’t that popular in Wisconsin.
Lots of pundits and news outlets are making a big deal about this and making themselves look silly. I have long since stopped watching the mainstream media, but apparently their coverage was predictable. MSNBC was rooting for the opponent to the last. When it was clear that Walker had won, they said it was a victory for Obama. Don’t ask me, I’m not going to watch them to figure out their reasoning. FOX was of course jumping around gleefully predicting doom doom doom for democrats across the nation. CNN was calling it a close race for a long time (it wasn’t close at all), then they switched to the Queen’s jubilee celebration. They did break in to announce that Walker had won, but then they went back to the Queen. When you Google “Walker Recall” it looks like about half are going with the headline “Walker survives Recall.” 55%-45% isn’t very close. Walker didn’t just survive, it could be argued that he got a mandate.
I think we should all remember that this election was, in the end, for the people of Wisconsin. They had made up their mind fairly early on and it isn’t clear at all that what they think about public sector unions will translate into other states. It’s also clear that the main media outlets don’t live in Wisconsin. They have been the biggest proponents of the politics as sports contests and they had their horses in the race. All of the gloating and despair from people outside of Wisconsin makes me laugh. This isn’t a sports event, this isn’t about you (unless you’re in Wisconsin obviously) or your team. This was about Wisconsin. Apparently 55% like what they’ve had for the past two years. I guess that is where elections are like sports, the contest is won on the field, not by advertisers.