CNN exit polls reveal a crippling enthusiasm gap for Mayor Barrett in relation to Governor Walker. A recall election, by its nature, necessitates a certain amount of anti-incumbency amongst the electorate, but the opponent also needs to inspire voter enthusiasm. As shown below, Barrett dominates amongst voters who disliked the other option, and his share of this group accounted for slightly over 21% of the total electorate. Among Wisconsinites who were primarily voting for their candidate, Barrett accumulated support from just 23% of the total electorate.
In contrast, Scott Walker was the choice 67% of the voters who selected primarily for their candidate. This figure represents nearly 47% of the total electorate. That 67% is more than double Mayor Barrett’s support amongst that group, and that 47% is more than Mayor Barrett’s total percentage of votes. Simply put, more Wisconsinites enthusiastically voted for Walker than for Barrett and against Walker combined.
A few reasons can be given for this lack of enthusiasm for Bennett – especially the late Democratic primary – but one wonders about the wisdom of Wisconsin democrats in selecting a candidate who had already failed to defeat Walker. This is particularly relevant given the rarity of successful gubernatorial recalls.
If money played a large role, one would expect to see that a barrage of robo-calls and ad buys in the days leading up to the election. This was the case in the Senate race where Joe Ricketts essentially bought the Nebraska Senate GOP primary for state Senator Deb Fischer.
However, voters who decided in the past month were decidedly pro-Barrett. The mayor, it appears, was simply on the wrong side of a stark ideological divide. In addition, exit polls demonstrate resistance to the notion of a recall election amongst portions of the general electorate.
Thus, in the aftermath of the recall elections, we have a Case of the Pundits who Cried Big Money.
And Scott Walker still looms, big and bad, in the Wisconsin wolfpack.