Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How Will the Judicial Election Impact the Recall? Is there a Recall "Damper Effect?"

One of the tactical arguments against using a recall is that it could operate to soak up the proponents’ voter anger and damper a bigger election victory down the road. As we see practically every two years, a presidential victory is followed by a backlash against the party in power. What occurs, at least partially, is that the victors get overconfident in their message and their success, and the out party gets to hone their pitch. Perhaps, and I have no good evidence one way or the other, the recall acts as a breaker on the winner’s high and let’s them get their eye back on the ball for the next election.

From this tactical point of view, I’ve wondered if the two sides in Wisconsin would have been better off letting the hurt feelings from the budget battle fester and using it to their advantage in the much more important electoral fight in 2012. Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen. The political system is thankfully too decentralized to allow that type of top-down thinking to occur – too many players are involved that would benefit from the immediate impact of a recall.

Given that, how will the brutal Wisconsin Supreme Court election race, which is going into overtime, impact the recall fight? The two parties and outside groups have already dropped $3.5 million on this race – and now we got the lawyers coming in, so that figure is going way up. This should give us an idea of the money that will be spent on the recall battles, where there is going to be a much longer fight. Some other basic question -- Is there an electoral benefit to winning or even to losing the judicial race?

Did the big turnaround in vote (the putative Republican candidate Prosser crushed the competition in the earlier primary round) get the Republicans to the battle posts earlier than they would have for the recall fight?

Since one side will undoubtedly feel they got cheated out of a victory (unfortunately, that’s it how it works with every close race – hell, I know a guy who still complains that strike three was high in Don Larsen’s perfect game), will losing actually prove more of a motivation and benefit than winning?

Will the recall battle result in a boomerang effect against the winner come 2012? 

No answers, only questions. 

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