In four weeks the state of Wisconsin will finally put this dark chapter of public union rebellion behind us. Scott Walker will face Tom Barrett on June 5th to determine which one will finish off the term Walker was originally elected for. A recent poll by Daily Kos has Walker beating Barrett by 50% to 45%; however, many others have them in a dead heat. With poll numbers that close, turn out will be the biggest factor in either candidate winning. Could the turn out for the recall primaries offer some hope to Scott Walker?
The Democratic primary was a short lived but heated race. Kathleen Falk had the backing of the majority of unions; while Barrett was more respected by Democrats for his toned down rhetoric and less divisive attitude. Either way, this primary was the first opportunity Democrats had to voice their disgust against Scott Walker in the voting both. The final tally reflects that they came out in considerably larger numbers then they did in 2010.
In the 2010 Democratic primary Barrett won receiving 210,921 votes out of a total 233,185 Democratic votes. This primary was not contentious and as a result the total votes cast were low. As we turn to the results in 2012; Barrett won with 390,109 votes out of a total 650,817* Democratic votes. Barrett had four challengers in 2012 unlike the one unknown challenger in 2010, because of this and the current political environment it was not a surprise to see nearly three times the turn out.
Unlike Barrett, Scott Walker’s last two primaries had the opposite circumstances. In 2010, Walker faced two other challengers including Mark Neumann. This resulted in a high turn. Scott Walker won that primary with 360,032 votes out of a total of 614,511 Republican votes cast. However, in 2012 Scott Walker did not face a real challenger; yet, Walker received 626,538 votes out of a total of 646,458* Republican votes cast. In comparison to Barrett, Walker actually received more votes in a primary that was less important to his election.
In a primary that was dedicated to the Democratic Party; Scott Walker received almost as many votes as all 5 Democrats combined. While turn outs for primaries are never as high as the final election, it must be asked if the GOP passion to defend the Governor runs deeper then the Democratic hatred for the Governor. Also, of the votes that Walker received in the primary, he can count on all of those votes returning for him in the recall election. Barrett on the other hand will have to convince the remaining Democrats that he was the correct choice; while most will fall inline in order to achieve the ultimate goal of removing Walker, there maybe a contingent that is disillusioned by one of the other candidates losing and not willing to support Barrett.
In the end, time will tell whether the numbers above are any indication of the how the next four weeks will end. Nonetheless, Republicans should remain strong and confident that the fellow members of their party are dedicated and ready to STAND WITH WALKER.
*I understand that both races included candidates that were stooges put in place by the opposing party. The numbers have little effect on this discussion.