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News You Won’t Find At The New York Times

David Weigel has a great piece on the Walker phenomenon over at Slate. As Weigel points out, Walker has built an extraordinary political following in the state, pulling together all the disparate elements in today’s Republican universe from tea party activists to megadonors. The result is a formidable political force that dominates the airwaves and inspires the grassroots.

It’s not clear who will win in June; as Weigel notes, Walker currently leads in the polls, but the race is still unpredictable. However, those who rely on the New York Times for their Wisconsin news won’t have any idea about some of the factors shaping this race; Weigel’s piece provides a healthy reality check for them.

A few things Times readers ought to know but likely don’t:

  • An unprecedented turnout in the essentially uncontested GOP primary shows Walker with extremely high and energized support; Walker got more votes than the two leading Democratic contenders
  • Public weariness with the incessant political wars in Wisconsin is working against Democrats more than the GOP at this point, with many voters blaming the unions for endlessly prolonging the struggle
  • Walker’s labor reforms are generally seen as successful.

In the Times cocoon, a grass roots mobilization of feisty, democracy-loving Wisconsinites is rising in rebellion against the hated Walker business and big donor lobby. In the actual Wisconsin, there are two grass roots movements opposing each other. The anti-union populists may end up with more energy, more unity and more votes than the pro-union organizers. The labor mobilization against the Walker reforms has been lovingly and carefully covered by the Times and its brethren since Day One: nothing like that level of analysis has been deployed on Walker’s grass roots support.

Weigel sums up the stakes in this race pretty well:

It [labor] beats Walker or it’s hobbled, probably for good, in power and in reputation.

We’ll be watching this one through June 5 and we’ll do our best to understand and analyze the key forces at work on both sides of one of the most important state elections in many years. I don’t know how well we succeed, but unlike some publications at Via Meadia we think it’s important that our readers get information that allows them to form an accurate impression about what is going on — even if some of what is going on makes for disquieting reading.

 

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  • Kenny

    Mr. Mead,

    how come you did not mention Intrade like you do on other occasions.

    As of this writing, it had the probability of Scott Walker winning on June 5 at 63.1%. That’s pretty significant, no?

  • http://www.everymanblog.com Everyman

    From Instapundit:

    The Left’s intentionally imposed monopoly on discourse prevents the average liberal from even becoming aware that there is an opposing viewpoint. Only the weakest and most ill-spoken conservative notions even get presented in the liberal media, as token examples to laugh at and scorn. We at PJM (and similar sources) could have the best and most convincing and most brilliant arguments and positions ever, and it would do no good because no liberal would ever see them.

    This is by design.

  • Mark Michael

    Those of you interested in following political developments in Wisconsin might check the MacIver Institute website now and then for its conservative take on things (I’ve mentioned this before at Via Meadia – quite a few times!):

    http://www.maciverinstitute.com/2012/05/examining-the-vote-totals-from-the-recall-primary/

    This particular post discusses the June 5th election from a likely voter turnout perspective on a county-by-county basis (the Milwaukee and Madison areas are the only two heavily D counties). Some excerpts:

    #1 With the Walker v. Barrett matchup now officially locked in place, I set out on a number-crunching project which only a true political geek would enjoy. My task was to prepare a county-by-county and region-by-region electoral model of what the June 5 recall election could look like.

    #2 In the head-to-head 2010 vote, Walker defeated Barrett by 5.8% or nearly 125,000 votes. Conventional wisdom is that Walker’s vote share will decline in the upcoming recall and the race will be closer to 50/50. Recent polling indicates this conventional wisdom may, in fact, be wise.

    Many also believe that Walker will see a significant slide in Madison and Milwaukee — the two greatest Democrat strongholds in the state. Dane County in particular has thousands of public employees and was the epicenter of the 2011 protests. The question is this: How far will Walker slide in Milwaukee and Dane counties as compared to 2010?

    When I compared Walker’s performance in Dane and Milwaukee counties in 2010 to that of Republican candidate Mark Green in 2006, I came to realize the slide may not be as great as many believe. The reason is that Walker in 2010 had not climbed very high on the vote ladder in these two counties to begin with. In these two counties, the Governor’s performance in 2010 was much closer to the GOP floor than to the ceiling.

    Let’s start by putting Milwaukee and Dane in perspective. In 2006 Governor Doyle rolled to an impressive margin of nearly 160,000 votes in Wisconsin. In that contest, Green received just over 46% of the head-to-head vote against Doyle. By contrast, Walker in 2010 received nearly 53% in his head-to-head against Barrett. This win by Walker represented a statewide improvement over Green of nearly seven points.

    #3 This seven point improvement was not across the board. When analyzing statewide elections, I divide the state into nine groups: Dane County, Milwaukee County, and seven multi-county regions. In all seven of these regions, the Walker improvement was actually greater than 7 points. For example, Walker pulled 10 points higher than Green in western Wisconsin and 11 points higher in central Wisconsin.

    In Dane County and Milwaukee County, Walker’s improvement was far less than 7 percent. In Milwaukee County, Walker pulled virtually the same percent as Mark Green had in 2006 and lost by virtually the same margin (Green lost Milwaukee County by 80,587 votes, Walker lost it by 81,320). In Dane County, Walker pulled only 3% better than Green. This is not much of an improvement considering that Jim Doyle was a long-time Dane County hometown favorite. If Walker’s performance relative to Mark Green in these two counties had been replicated statewide in 2010, Tom Barrett would have won the election and done so quite easily.

    Had candidate Walker over-performed in Dane and Milwaukee in 2010, that would put Governor Walker at much greater risk in 2012. But in reality, he performed nearly as poorly there as Green had in the midst of the 2006 Democrat landslide.

    Many of you may be asking yourself how turnout comes into play. Even if Walker only has a modest decline in percentage in Dane and Milwaukee counties, what if their turnout is much higher?

    We can all agree that higher than normal turnout in Milwaukee and Dane counties would spell bad news for Walker. Once again, however, Walker’s win in 2010 came in the face of already-strong Milwaukee/Dane turnout.

    Statewide voter turnout was 1% higher in the 2010 gubernatorial election than it was in the 2006 race. This is misleading, however. The 2010 turnout was actually lower nearly everywhere in Wisconsin except for Dane and Milwaukee counties.

    In terms of votes cast, Milwaukee County in 2010 saw a 6% increase over 2006 and Dane County came in with a 5% increase.

    Is it possible for these counties to have an even higher turnout in the June recall? Certainly it is and I suspect Dane County actually will. The point is that the two big Democrat counties in 2010 had already outperformed the remainder of the state in 2010 in terms of turnout and Walker still won pulling away.

  • Andrew Allison

    Not to mention WaPoo’s disgusting “expose” of is a part of prep school life — it does rather look, however, that in it’s zeal to re-elect Obama, they stepped in something nasty themselves. The unannounced corrections to the original story make the whole thing even seedier.

  • Denver

    Watch those ballot boxes. Stuffing is a problem when Unions are around.

  • http://www.martinezreport.com Melvin

    New Dork Times or The Washington comPost?

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    The Labor Gangs are fighting a defensive battle to retain their unjustified labor monopoly and continued ability to extort money and benefits from employers and in the case of public service unions continued extortion of the Taxpayer.

    Walker will win this battle because his cause is just, and he has the offensive momentum.

    The fact is the Democrats are no longer even mentioning the new labor laws (a battle they recognize as already lost), and are focused on simply energizing their base to prevent a Republican win.

  • Susan

    What I fail and fail and fail to understand, Mr. Mead, is how you can have voted with these people in 2008. It unfortunately makes almost everything else you say – suspect.

  • teapartydoc

    All the left is doing with the attacks on people like Walker, the shiny object strategy, and personal attacks on donors and those with non-PC views is keep us energized.

  • http://thepencilofnature.net Lorenz Gude

    I’ve been being lied to by the New York Times since 1956. I began to wake up when I realized I supported Kennedy at the Bay of Pigs because I had discovered that Castro wasn’t a Social Democrat as the Times had painted him during the glory days in Oriente province, but instead a hard core communist. Both sides cocoon, and if you never read opposing viewpoints you are creating a fools paradise. The special problem with the Times is that its very prestige underwrites its unspoken claim which is identical to Fox News’ overt pretense -“Fair and balanced. We report, you decide.” Because the big lie is unspoken it often falsely raises the expectations of a lot of New Yorkers like me and WRM. ;-)

    To keep us confused ‘great’ newspapers also engage in second order deception by occasionally publishing ‘the other side of the story’. For example, a few months ago the Times published a puff piece on Romney touting his high intelligence and dedication to excellence while simultaneously earning an MBA and a law degree from Harvard. Most recently it was the WaPo that ‘Swift Boated’ Romney quoting a dead witness, but I am sure the Times will make timely efforts to kneecap Romney in the lead up to the election. Readers may recall how the Times came out with an unsupportable story about McCain having an affair just as he was consolidating his primary win – in other words the same timing as the WaPo’s bullying story.

    The other way I’ve noticed this second order deception is played is to come out with an ‘other side’ piece when it becomes obvious that the preferred position is in serious danger of getting trounced. My favorite example is O’Hanlon and Pollacks 2007 NYT piece ‘”A War We Might Just Win” as it became obvious that Petraeus and his surge were succeeding. This from the Newspaper that put Abu Ghraib on their front page over 30 times.

  • http://khemenu.blogspot.com Ari Tai

    re: The People v. Unions.

    I suspect we’re about to see a replay of Mr. Reagan and PATCO.

    The Unions, like our representatives, are about to be reminded who they work for, who pays their check. Perhaps next time rather than “more, I want more, now! tantrums” they’ll come hat in hand with evidence of twice the product and/or quality of result at half the costs and ask to share in a minor fraction of the rewards – assuming all the productivity increases don’t have to go towards funding the costs of new regulation (regulation: a pre-made purchasing decision made in our names) and reducing the debt for the next twenty years.

  • Lavaux

    As public sector HR expenditures impel states twoard insolvency, public sector unions will force Democrats to take the wrong side of reform. That hurts Democrats, and whatever hurts Democrats helps the country. Therefore, Walker’s victory may have a downside.

    On a related note, notice how generous public sectory employee salaries and benefits comprise exclusive welfare states for the privileged few. I have trouble squaring this against the union bosses’ support for socialism in general, particularly when taxpayers can’t possibly afford to finance both an exclusive welfare state for the privileged and an inclusive welfare state for everyone else.

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