The left picked a fight -- and lost

The results for the labor movement, of which the public sector is now the backbone, could be dire. Already, there are signs Walker has succeeded in crippling Wisconsin’s unions, whose membership has sharply declined since his reforms made it easier for workers to opt out and harder for the groups to gain recognition. In just over a year, the union representing state workers has seen its membership drop by two-thirds, while the American Federation of Teachers has lost more than a third of the 17,000 members it formerly claimed in Wisconsin, according to the Wall Street Journal…

But if the recall is not a harbinger of the presidential election, it is also not meaningless as a foretaste. The massive mobilization drive — more Wisconsinites turned out for a special election in the middle of June than turned out for the November 2010 election, a shocking feat — gave both parties a chance to test-drive and fine-tune their sophisticated voter-turnout operations, as well as a peek at what the other side is capable of. One Wisconsin Democrat involved in the presidential election told me the recall has been an invaluable opportunity to vet and refine voter lists. Republicans have similarly been boasting for weeks about the voter-contact operation they activated to get out the vote for the recall…

“The Democrats failed, after a year and a half of protests and all the time, energy, and dollars they spent trying to undo the 2010 election,” said Mark Graul, a Wisconsin Republican consultant not involved in the recall fight. “There are going to be a bunch of demoralized Democrats running around Wisconsin. That’s a morale problem for them that could have an impact on the presidential election.”