All Local Politics Are National

After what seems like forever, it’s finally Wisconsin Recall Eve. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, one thing’s certain: If you’ve had any doubts about the growing nationalization of elections, wash them away now. All politics may be local, but people in D.C.—whether journalists, politicians, or billionaire dilettantes—have found that they can have an outsized influence on the national stage by investing in state and local races. The recall election has proved to be the most expensive in Wisconsin’s history—$30.5 million coming from outside groups—and although locals have insisted time and time again that “It's a Wisconsin-specific moment, not a national referendum,” 80 percent (rough approximation) of news coverage on Monday will focus on the national implications of the race—even though this is not a referendum on President Obama.

There is one real big-picture implication. The Wisconsin recall election’s transmogrification into a national circus over the past year will affect the future of recall elections. Only two other governors have faced recall elections before Scott Walker—the first in North Dakota in 1921, the second in California in 2003. They’re a rare occurrence, because it takes a perfect storm of bad circumstances—as well as massive local organization—to push people to collect the millions of signatures necessary to force a recall. However, with national attention and cash now available for electoral initiatives big and small, don’t be surprised if recalls become more run-of-the-mill. As Grey Davis, who lost his recall to Arnold Schwarzenegger, told MSNBC today, recalls are “always a risk that you assume. And if you don’t like that, find some other line of work.” After Wisconsin, his words may be truer than ever.

So They Say

"He somehow snuck into my room and stuck under my sheets this fruit that felt like it was hairy. ... I knew immediately who it was. He's got a little bit of that practical joker in him that a lot of people don't see because he comes across as this serious policy wonk."

—Former New York congressman Rick Lazio on potential vice-presidential candidate Rob Portman

 

Daily Meme: Obama=Romney

  • The New York Times ran a piece this weekend noting the similarities between the two presidential candidates. They both like grilled chicken, first and foremost. 
  • But that's not all! This article's already been written dozens of times. Did you know they also "both occasionally laugh uncomfortably at their own humor" and "look vaguely out of sync when wearing blue jeans"?
  • And don't forget their remarkably similar health care legislation.
  • As an AP reporter points out, "for all their liberal versus conservative differences, when the two presidential contenders describe each other, they sound like they're ragging on the same flawed guy."
  • Which is why it's hard for either side to attack the other. If Romney goes after Obama for something during his presidential term, it's likely that Obama can respond with the same attack on Romney's gubernatorial career.

 

What We're Writing

What We're Reading

  • The Wisconsin recall election turns personal.
  • Jonathan Chait doesn't think Republicans will be taking a chill pill anytime soon.
  • Ben Adler makes the case for separating the rich and the super-rich into separate tax brackets.
  • Tim Murphy reports on a new super PAC that proves centrists really are the worst.
  • Even Bill Kristol thinks Mitt Romney needs to define his ideas.
  • Mark Schmidt looks into Republicans' past views on campaign finance disclosure.
  • David Dewhurst wants to debate Ted Cruz in Spanish.
  • The U.S. Capitol is just one exploding toilet of waste (not a metaphor).
  • One stimulus idea that is sure to pass? The G.O.P. Glorification and Obama Disparagement Act.

 
Poll of the Day

Tomorrow's recall election might turn into a squeaker at the last minute. After over a year of buildup, Wisconsinites finally head to the polls to determine whether Scott Walker will serve the remainder of his term as governor or if he should be recalled in favor of Democratic challenger Tom Barrett. Walker has held a solid polling lead throughout the campaign, but Barrett is catching up at the right moment, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released Wednesday. Barrett now trails by just three points.

Comments

Unfortunately, it is likely that Wisconsin will retain Scott Walker after the election on Tuesday. The issue is more than one of actual policy, the issue is one of media coverage. It is unlikely that "grassroots" politics can survive in an environment where media runs without proper regulation. Until we have some sort of reform that requires Broadcast and Cable Media--where the least informed voters get their news--to adhere to fairness and accuracy rules, there is little chance that anything will change for the better.

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