Romney campaign eyeing Wisconsin if recall flops

If Wisconsin turns into the Left’s Waterloo two weeks from today, Mitt Romney’s campaign may take a fresh look at making it Barack Obama’s as well.  The Wall Street Journal analyzes the impact that a defeat in the Badger State will have on Democrats and the unions, and the new talk of Wisconsin being the kind of swing state that could decide this election:

From the start, some in the Democratic Party worried that a Wisconsin recall could drain needed resources, fire up the conservative base and ultimately make it more difficult for Mr. Obama to win the state. Mr. Obama carried Wisconsin by 14 percentage points in 2008, and Wisconsin hasn’t gone Republican in a presidential election since 1984. But last week’s Marquette poll showed Messrs. Obama and Romney tied at 46%.

A senior official with the Romney campaign said that if Mr. Walker survives, the campaign would take a fresh look at the state. “If opportunity hits, we will capitalize,” the official said.

“People are suddenly starting to talk about Wisconsin as a potential swing state, which was not the case even two weeks ago,” said William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former policy adviser to President Bill Clinton.

Even this far before the recall vote takes place, insiders are trying to distance themselves from failure:

Top Democrats now say that when labor groups first raised the specter of a recall, the party’s officials urged their allies in Wisconsin to reconsider. “We told them it was a bad, bad, bad idea,” one Democratic official said.

A union official said both the Democratic National Committee and the Obama campaign expressed reservations. “I don’t know that anyone was enthusiastic about it over there,” the union official said.

Wisconsin will be exactly the kind of state that Obama will have difficulty carrying in this election.  Despite its track record for consecutive Democratic victories in presidential elections, Wisconsin has frequently been a close-run state.  John Kerry barely won the state with an 11,000-vote margin, less than half a percentage point in the 2004 election.  Wisconsin consists mainly of the blue-collar white voters that have become so disaffected with Democrats since Obama’s election in 2008.  The state flipped to Republicans for the first time in decades in the 2010 midterms, and the recall elections has fired up the conservative base enough in the state to beat the unions in two special elections this year.

Politico reports that it looks like Republicans will win the hat trick, too:

What seemed a few months ago like an unstoppable crusade to oust Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker now has the look of a marathon runner pulling up limp in the last mile.

Two weeks from Election Day, Democrats face the real prospect of defeat: The last three public polls of the race show the first-term Republican up between 4 and 9 points. Local Democrats are seething that the national party has been MIA from their recall effort. The state’s largest newspaper argued over the weekend that whatever Walker’s sins, he doesn’t deserve to be booted from office.

And with fewer than 5 percent of voters undecided, the chance of a significant shift in sentiment in the closing days appears slight, even as the campaigns prepare to launch their final advertising spree.

It’s gotten so bad that Democrats have all but stopped talking about the PEU reforms, as the latest budget numbers show Walker was right in pushing for them.  They’ve had to fall back on the usual griping about budget cuts, which as Reason TV points out, are fantasy:

Are public-sector workers overcompensated relative to their private-sector analogues? All signs point to yes. Are states and localities massively overextended due to salaries and benefits accorded public-sector workers? Again, all signs point to yes. Does that mean that states will start reeling in the amount of money they’re paying out now, not to mention the future? Not so much. Consider even Wisconsin, where’s Scott Walker’s two-year budget increases total spending by 3 percent.

A win here for Walker will further damage the credibility of Big Labor, and they have already spent their money on this rather than the general election in November.  Wisconsin would be ripe for a Republican win in the state that defined prairie populism for decades.

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