Rule of thumb: If Walker wins by six points or more, Romney's the favorite in November

So says John Ellis, writing at BuzzFeed. I’m not sure I believe it but I really want to believe it, and darn it, that’s good enough to justify a post:

Is there any chance that Barrett can pull off an upset? Probably not. If he was leading in the polls, President Obama would be campaigning for him this weekend. The fact that the president is not campaigning for him this weekend means two things: (1) Barrett is behind in Team Obama polling by more than the margin of error, and (2) a presidential appearance would not provide enough of a lift for Barrett to make the difference. So, using the Obama test, Mr. Barrett is a goner.

The key to this election, however, is not really whether Governor Walker wins. More or less everyone expects him to do that. The key is how much he wins by. The crude calculation is this: Walker defeat equals certain Obama win in November. Walker win by 1-5 percentage points equals very close presidential general election (nationally). A Walker win by 6 points or more equals Mitt Romney is the favorite to win in November.

Remember, he says, David Prosser won reelection to the Wisconsin Supreme Court last year by a margin of less than half a point, which means if Walker’s lead holds up then Wisconsin’s already a lot more GOP-friendly than it was 12 months ago. Or, actually, does it just mean that passions over the collective bargaining law have cooled sufficiently to restore Wisconsin to the status quo? Walker also defeated Tom Barrett by six points in 2010, after all, and Obama defeated McCain by 14 points there just two years before that. (He won’t match that margin this time against Romney after four years of Hopenchange dreck, but he doesn’t have to. Everyone expects this election to be closer, including O.) What we’re really trying to gauge here is what, precisely, Tuesday’s election is a referendum on. Is it a referendum on Walker’s overall performance, including/especially the recent good news in Wisconsin about jobs? Is it a referendum specifically on the collective bargaining law or, in Ellis’s words, the “Blue Social Model”? Is it a referendum on The One? Obama’s worried that it’ll be seen as a referendum on him if he shows up there and Barrett crashes and burns, since that’ll kick off a new round of bad press about how he’s in trouble and no state is safe, etc etc. That’s why he’s staying away. More from Byron York:

The new poll, from Marquette University Law School, shows Walker leading Barrett 52 percent to 45 percent. Beyond the horse race, the Marquette pollsters also asked about specific elements of Walker’s reforms. It turns out some of the key elements of those policies — reforms Obama strongly opposed — are now winning the day…

At the same time, the Marquette pollsters found something quite different in the presidential race. Likely voters in Wisconsin favor the president over Mitt Romney, 51 percent to 43 percent, and Obama has a 55 percent favorable rating, to Romney’s 40 percent.

Some might question how voters could favor both Scott Walker and Barack Obama, but that’s the way it is, at least right now. “I think the numbers are probably right,” says Charlie Sykes, a popular conservative radio host in Wisconsin, “which suggests that 1) Walker is doing awfully well, 2) Tom Barrett is a remarkably bad candidate, and 3) Wisconsin remains purple, leaning blue.”

How should we parse those results? Wisconsinites are embracing Walker and his reforms — and yet The One is still comfortably ahead of Romney. Is that because they don’t know Mitt well yet or because they’re still holding out hope for an economic recovery? (This poll was taken before today’s jobs report.) Or is it because the recall election, which is sui generis, really doesn’t have much bellwether value for a national presidential election? Maybe there’s some critical mass of Obama-leaning centrist Wisconisinites that’s simply tired of recall nonsense and willing to give Walker the chance to finish his term, knowing that if he loses it’ll kick off an endless round of tit-for-tat partisan recall battles in years ahead. There’s no question that the GOP’s organizational efforts for Romney in Wisconsin have been helped by the recall “dry run,” but as for the national implications of Walker winning, I just don’t know. Someone convince me. I want to believe.

For your viewing pleasure, here’s Tom Barrett at his rally in Milwaukee today. He needed a Democratic president who wasn’t a disaster on jobs, so he had one option.

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