Monday, July 18, 2011

Recalls and blow-outs

With tomorrow featuring the first actual state legislative recall vote in three years, one that according to polls the sitting official is suppose to win easily -- we should note that in state legislative recalls, blow-out victories appear to be the norm.

There are examples of close recalls -- the 1996 George Petak recall was 51-47, as was a 1914 one. But of the recalls that I have results for (11 of the 20), the winner (whether the elected official facing the recall or a challenger) generally triumphs with close to 2/3 the vote. Gary George, the last Wisconsin state legislator to face a recall, lost with 65% of the vote against him).  This same magical 60+% number was hit by all but one of the "fake" Democrat recall challengers in last week's primary races.

On the local level, there are also many blow-outs. from Miami-Dade's mayor (88% against) to Dianne Feinstein's successful defense (81%), Spokane's Jim West (65% against). Of course there are plenty of exceptions (Omaha's mayor survived 51-49) and probably more when the municipality or the district gets very small, but it does seem that recall votes are frequently overwhelming.

The unusual nature of the Wisconsin recalls, which is almost serving as a state-wide election, will probably mean that at least a number of them will be very close races. But for one-off recalls, you can't be surprised when an avalanche of votes all go one way.

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