Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kelly must be dizzy, but ...

Today, out of all the week's possible issues to choose from, Jack Kelly chose to look at the Wisconsin recall elections. Kelly of course sees a failure in the Democrat's efforts, and spins it as being an indication of the imminent death of the Democratic party. I think Kelly is simply repeating GOP spin messages and drawing his interesting (ridiculous?) conclusions.

But the fact of the matter is that the Democrats fell short of what they wanted to accomplish. First of all, doing my own (limited) research, I find someone with a math degree who claims the Republicans somehow stole the four Wisconsin elections they won (to be clear, he apparently claims the Republicans stole 2004 and I think other elections as well). Now, of course, thinking about it, if someone mounted a recall effort to replace Mike Doyle for voting against the debt ceiling, or to recall Luke Ravenstahl for holding on to the anti fracking referendum, how successful do you think that would be? Democrats and/or unions were really upset by what Scott Walker and the Republican legislature had done, but they already hadn't voted for them. The hope Democrats had was that independents and maybe even moderate Republicans would feel outraged over what Walker and the other Republicans had done, and in two out of six elections that hope was borne out. We have this interesting contradiction, that Democrats were more successful in overturning any of the candidates elected just some nine months ago, yet they were not able to achieve their desired goal of creating divided government in Wisconsin.

Kelly's larger conclusions strike me as a big disservice to his readers. For Kelly's analysis to have any strength, voters still need to be angry at unions (to the extent they ever were), and I think people are now (for better or worse) much more focused on (sick of?) the debt ceiling, whether cutting spending will help the economy, and indeed where the jobs might be (what it will take for business to hire). To add to that is the downgrade of the US's credit rating and what happened in the stock markets in the last eight days or so.

Yet I will present my own thoughts about the Wisconsin election results, despite what I said right above. I wonder if the elections could be tied to the popularity of the President, in the sense that even though voters are not happy with Republicans, the President seems to be moving more and more to the right himself. Voters, particularly Democrats, could not be blamed for thinking that voting for Democratic politicians is less and less justified.

The problem with my theory is that it should lead to smaller turnout in elections, yet apparently the Wisconsin elections had a high turnout. So this is something we (I) will have to continue to look at, and consider.

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