As of this writing, Joanne Kloppenburg clings to a tiny lead over David Prosser, with the result not to be known for weeks or months until after a likely recount. As we know from Minnesota, recounts are not to be taken lightly, and need to be fought tooth and nail.
But regardless of how the result turns out, there are some clear takeaways:
- Every vote counts. There were approximately 1.5 million votes cast, and the gap is about 200 votes. Republicans need to push hard on voter integrity legislation and practices. One can only imagine how many U. Wisconsin – Madison students who are registered to vote elsewhere, and whose parents probably claim them as residents of other states for tax purposes, voted in the election. It probably made the difference. Laws that ensure that only those entitled to vote can and do vote are hated by Democrats for this and similar reasons.
- Don’t believe the spin being put out by PPP Polling and others that Republicans are doomed, and that the world changed after the November elections. Gov. Scott Walker received 52% of the vote in November, so Prosser — who was slow out of the gate to respond to attack ads — did only 2% worse. And that in an emotional atmosphere in which Democrats staked everything, but Republicans only became motivated in the final couple of weeks. As Matthew Knee pointed out this morning, big labor proved much less formidable than expected.
- The courts matter, including trial courts. This was an election for the Supreme Court, but trial court Judge Sumi’s extraordinary interference in the legislative process provided solace and encouragement to anti-Prosser forces. By making what was a legislative issue a judicial issue, Judge Sumi — whether she intended to or not — made the Supreme Court race the key event in the political war over collective bargaining.
- Keep in mind the courts when thinking about the 2012 presidential election. Six more years of Barack Obama likely will result in a change in the character of the U.S. Supreme Court.
- We have to police the police. Who could have imagined that police unions would join protesters and engage in acts of political intimidation? Who could have imagined that a county Sheriff would declare that his officers would not act as “palace guards” when protecting the State Capitol? Public sector unions are more than economic issues, they are central players in whether voters or unions control government.
- Conservatives were complacent, but are motivated now. Consider the Wisconsin Supreme Court election the wake up call for the majority which grew complacent after November. Conservatives around the country need to understand that nothing can be taken for granted.