The Sperry Rand mainframe computer here at the Blaska Policy Research Factory, emitted one feeble puff of blue smoke, shuddered, and blinked twice before spitting out a single punch card. Then the venerable machine went completely dark.
The card was bent, stapled and mutilated.
Our crack research staff had asked Ol' Sparky, so faithful these 50 years, to predict Tuesday's State Senate recall elections.
While Ruben Mamoulian, my aide de camp, searches for fresh vacuum tubes, your faithful Squire will fall back on his intuition -- first enunciated at least as far back as July 1 -- that Republicans would lose a net of one seat. So, I'm stuck with it. Predicting that early is like leaving an NBA game during the last two minutes.
Still, I don't see any reason to change now, one day before Tuesday's recall votes. (Ruben, where are those tubes?!) I still see two Republican incumbents losing: Dan Kapanke in La Crosse and Randy Hopper in Fond du Lac/Oshkosh.
(The late buzz is that Luther Olsen is in trouble, as well. I have trouble believing that. If he does fall, that's three down and the Democrats would take the State Senate by a 17-16 margin. Except -- that Democrat Jim Holperin gets upset the following week, which flips control back to the GOP by the same margin.
(But, but, but ... Stuart Rothenberg at Roll Call says we lose maybe Darling as well.)
If my original and still champion prediction is correct, Republicans will retain an 18-15 advantage in the Senate (it's now 19-14). That means a reported $35 million was flushed down the commode to reconfirm what the voters told us last November. (To be fair, these senators were elected in 2008.)
A Republican hold would surely put the brakes on the nascent Recall Walker movement and that's just for starters. God only knows how the Madison Street will react.
The envelope, please
It's all here, kids. The red-shaded seats are Republican, blue are Democrat. HOLD means they stay that way. LOSS means they go to the other party. The April 5 Prosser vote is given as a percentage of the total vote. The RealClear website combined the George W. Bush 2004, John McCain 2008, Scott Walker 2010 and Prosser 2011 votes for this average. I have represented the DailyKos polling as a (+) plus if it favors Republicans, a (-) minus if it does not. (They have not shared polling, if any, for the August 19 races.)
I'll say what everyone else is saying; there is no precedent for this. We've had recalls before but only one district at a time.
It's summer; who's on vacation and who voted absentee? I have to think the teachers and corrections unions will turn out their people. Teachers, in particular, get Tuesday off. (The whole summer off, actually.) But the Dems shied away from banging the collective bargaining drum figuring it wins them no new voters. The tea party is real and energized. I do question whether the Republicans did enough to highlight the mob excesses in the Siege of the Capitol.
What impact, also, the shutdown of government next door in Minnesota, in stark contrast to Wisconsin? Or the downgrade of our federal debt by the rating agencies? The meltdown of the stock market? Can't help but hurt Democrats.
Prosser is the canary in the coal mine
I'm putting great store in the vote for Dave Prosser. Our liberal acquaintances (for they ARE ...) made the April Supreme Court election a referendum on Walker's policies; they fought the law and the law won. Since April, school districts are praising the Republican reforms.
Still, all politics is local. Dan Kapanke, a brave and principled man, was always swimming upstream in a Democrat(ic) district. His opponent is a legislator and a proven vote-getter.
Randy Hopper has the girlfriend issue, although it should be noted he filed for divorce a good year ago, well before the troubles of 2011. Jack Craver cites Dem sources to say that he's holding his own. So, who knows?
President Obama's machine has entered the fray; so have his opponents. This election is national, baby!
Now, here's one prediction I think even Craver would accept: whatever the results from the August recalls, state politics will become even more virulent.