What Walker's Win Means for November

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker greets supporters at an election-night rally Tuesday in Waukesha. Photo by: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker scored a decisive victory Tuesday, becoming the first governor in U.S. history to successfully turn back a recall election, and bringing to an end 16 months of tumult in the state that followed his decision to cut nearly all collective bargaining rights for most public employees.

Walker bested his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, by a 53 to 46 percent margin. The race was a rematch of the 2010 gubernatorial contest that Walker won by five points.

Walker told supporters at a victory rally in Waukesha that the results of Tuesday's election sent a clear message. "Tonight we tell Wisconsin, we tell our country and we tell people all across the globe that voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions," Walker said.

The 44-year-old Walker also struck a conciliatory tone, saying he "rushed in to try to fix things" before explaining his reforms.

He called on those who voted for him and against him to join together for the good of the state. "Tomorrow is the day after the election and tomorrow we are no longer opponents. Tomorrow we are one as Wisconsinites so together we can move Wisconsin forward."

For his part, Barrett said both sides should move forward with a renewed sense of cooperation. "We are a state that has been deeply divided and it is up to all of us, our side and their side, to listen, to listen to each other and to try to do what's right for everyone in this state," he told a crowd of supporters in Milwaukee.

Be sure to check out our Vote 2012 Map Center to see the county-by-county breakdown of the Wisconsin election results.

And you can read Terence's initial post when the race was called here.

With the recall over now the question becomes what the results portend for the fall contest between President Obama and Mitt Romney. Both campaigns see the Badger State as a battleground, and Romney was quick to issue a statement Tuesday night seizing on Walker's victory.

"Tonight's results will echo beyond the borders of Wisconsin," Romney said. "Governor Walker has shown that citizens and taxpayers can fight back – and prevail – against the runaway government costs imposed by labor bosses. Tonight voters said 'no' to the tired, liberal ideas of yesterday, and 'yes' to fiscal responsibility and a new direction."

Tuesday's result came pretty close to the final projection in the Marquette Law Poll, which gave Walker a 52 percent to 45 percent advantage. That same survey showed the president leading Romney by eight points, 51 percent to 43 percent.

According to exit polls from the recall Wisconsin voters said they preferred Mr. Obama by a 51 to 44 percent margin.

The Obama campaign's Wisconsin state director, Tripp Wellde, noted in a memo to reporters that the president outperformed Romney in other exit poll metrics. "On the questions of who would do a better job on the economy and who would help the middle class the most, President Obama again held a strong advantage over Romney. These data points reflect the President's strengths, and Governor Romney's challenges, as we enter the final months of the campaign."

The director of the Marquette poll, Charles Franklin, said it's entirely possible Wisconsinites could back the president in November, just five months after voting to keep Walker in office.

"When we look at a highly polarized electorate and imagine that it carries over to every aspect of political life, we're making a mistake," Franklin told the NewsHour. "The public is actually more fluid than that and is fully capable of going with Walker on the one hand and Obama on the other."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel created a map that shows how Wisconsin voters felt about election day.

Also up for recall in Wisconsin Tuesday were Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and three Republican state senators, plus an open state senate seat. Kleefisch, two GOP incumbents and the Republican candidate running for the open seat all were victorious, but control of the state senate remained up for grabs as a winner had not yet been declared in the battle for a seat in Racine County.


If the Wisconsin results are a warning for the president, New Jersey's Democratic primary was also framed as a choice between Mr. Obama and someone else. In this case, the redistricting fueled primary race between Rep. Bill Pascrell and Rep. Steve Rothman was the president versus former President Bill Clinton.

Clinton backed Pascrell, 75, as a reward for supporting his wife's presidential bid in 2008. Mr. Obama returned the same favor for Rothman, 59, his lone New Jersey backer during the presidential primary.

Pascrell won in a landslide even though the newly drawn district contained more of Rothman's territory.

California's election night offered the first real test of a new "jungle primary" system allowing the top two candidates to advance to the general election instead of the standard Republican vs. Democrat. That lets districts that lean strongly for one party or the other to have two choices come the fall.

And "[e]ven before Tuesday's competitive and expensive primary contests, the changes drove eight veterans of the House into retirement and rattled what had been one of the most stable rosters of lawmakers sent to Washington by any state, the Washington Post's Paul Kane reports on the front page Wednesday.

As expected, and as we previewed Tuesday, Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman were the top two finishers in that primary, sending the member-vs.-member clash to the Nov. 6 ballot.

The Los Angeles Times has a really nifty chart outlining how the primaries shook out Tuesday night.

Across the country, other general election contests were set.

New Mexico voters chose former Rep. Heather Wilson as the GOP nominee for Senate, and Rep. Martin Heinrich as the Democratic nominee. That's one of the NewsHour Senate Six races to watch this year.


Judy Woodruff spoke with former President Bill Clinton Tuesday about the economy, campaign politics and his work with the Clinton Global Initiative.

She asked the former president if Mr. Obama's "goose is cooked politically" if there are three or four more months of disappointing job growth.

"I don't agree with that," Clinton said. "I think, for one thing, he would be in trouble if that happened and the Congress had passed his whole jobs plan. But they didn't, and they are explicitly advocating — and so is Gov. Romney — an approach that looks like the approach the Europeans are trying to get out of, which is austerity first, which drives up unemployment and interestingly enough drives the government deficit up."

The 42nd president also said the skills Romney picked up at Bain Capital do not "necessarily have any relevance at all to creating jobs."

"Business experience does not guarantee success," he added. "If you go back to the Kennedy presidency, you look at the last 50 years, the Democrats have had the White House 23 years; the Republicans have had it 28 years. We've had 66 million private-sector jobs created, 42 million under the Democrats, 24 million under the Republicans. And you know, what creates jobs is a healthy level of investment, a well-prepared workforce, a commitment to new markets abroad and at home, and constant innovation and investment in research and development."

You can watch the full interview here or below:


NewsHour Coordinating Producer Linda J. Scott reports from Capitol Hill:

A transportation bill that almost always sails through both chambers of Congress might become yet another victim of election year partisan gridlock.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, and Sen. James Inhofe, R-OK, crafted a two-year, $109 billion transportation bill as a basis for a conference agreement, a meeting where both chambers can reconcile differences between two bills. But the House never passed its own full highway reauthorization and opted instead to pass a 90-day extension. Talks began. Boxer told reporters last week that were "no insurmountable sticking points."

But Capitol Hill's legislative daily Congressional Quarterly reported Tuesday that House Republicans say "they are willing to walk away from the highway bill talks if they cannot get what they want on other issues, including approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and limiting the EPA regulators of coal ash". These additional items would slow progress on the bill and would all but dash hopes of completing the legislation before the June 30 funding deadline. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said that House conferees "will insist on these key changes."

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer expressed his displeasure at the latest developments in a meeting with reporters: "These things have nothing to do with the highway bill," Hoyer said. "What the Republican hardliners are saying is that we won't agree in conference, we won't come to an agreement, we won't help create jobs in America when we lost 28,000 construction jobs last month, unless we get our way. It's our way or no highway. No jobs, no progress, no consensus, no agreement. Confrontation over compromise. That's why we have partisan gridlock."

CQ quoted a spokesman for House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, who said the Florida Republican has "been very clear" about expressing the GOP priorities in negotiations and emphasized that "the House remains committed to the inclusion of Keystone in the conference report." The pipeline would bring crude oil from Canada's tar sands to Texas refineries. Republicans have used the pipeline issue to criticize President Obama and demanded he make a speedy decision. The administration said it needed more time, but left the door open for builders to resubmit the application when the plans were more complete.

A Boxer aide told reporters that Senate negotiators have made another offer to House conferees in hopes of moving forward, but would not go into any details on the mechanics of a possible deal.




  • "Democrats reserved nearly $19 million more in broadcast airtime this week across 24 House districts, throwing down yet another financial marker for the fall elections," Shira Toeplitz reports in Roll Call.
  • A new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found former Govs. Tim Kaine and George Allen locked in a dead heat for the U.S. Senate race in Virginia this fall. The survey put Kaine at 44 percent and Allen at 43 percent.
  • A new poll from the left-leaning PPP found that Minnesota's push for an amendment to the state constitution that would ban same-sex marriage appears in danger of failing, with 43 percent in support of the measure and 49 percent opposed.
  • The New York Times Lens blog features photos of the photographers' stakeout at the John Edwards trial. They're both enlightening and meta.
  • Constitutional bans on same-sex marriage could be considered by the Supreme Court next year, after an appeals court in California chose not to revisit the issue.
  • The Atlantic's Matthew O'Brien put monetary policy in terms we can all understand – by comparing it to Star Wars.
  • An NBC/SMG Delta analysis shows $108 million has been spent already on television ads for the upcoming presidential election. Of that total, over $60 million has been spent in three states: Florida, Virginia and Ohio.
  • The NewsHour's Victoria Fleischer and Jason Kane captured a student contest to make a healthy meal for less than $1 per student.
  • ProPublica dubs this quote from its "Officials Say the Darndest Things" Tumblr blog as possibly the greatest sitcom premise ever.

Cassie M. Chew contributed to this report.


All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama attends four California campaign events: in San Francisco at 3:20 p.m. and 5:15 p.m., and in Beverly Hills at 10:15 p.m. and 11:55 p.m.
  • Vice President Biden talks jobs and the economy in Winston-Salem, N.C. at 11:45 a.m.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama attends campaign events in New York at 12 p.m. and Philadelphia at 3:15 p.m.
  • Mitt Romney holds a tele-town hall with the National Federation of Independent Business Managers at 2:45 p.m. and attends an event at USAA in San Antonio at 3:45 p.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

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