3. The national Democratic Party’s lukewarm support for the recall.
Considering that labor unions attach seminal importance to the recall vote, the national Democratic Party has been less than enthusiastic in supporting the efforts of their union friends.
Liberal Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent wrote a few weeks ago
“We are frustrated by the lack of support from the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Governors Association,” a top union official tells me. “Scott Walker has the full support and backing of the Republican Party and all its tentacles. We are not getting similar support.”
Finally, less than two weeks ago, the national Democratic Party stirred itself to action and began pouring money into the state. But Scott Walker had an immense head start and has crushed Tom Barrett in fundraising for the race, outspending him by at least 2-1.
While one explanation for the fundraising differential is clearly the fact that there was no Democratic candidate until the primary ended less than a month ago, it is also true that Barrett was slaughtering his rivals in the polls and has been the presumptive candidate for months.
The truth is, unions did not support Barrett in the primary. Instead of backing the sure winner and planning for the recall election, they poured $4 million into the hopeless candidacy of former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk. They paid for this blunder when the national Democrats looked at the polls and saw Walker with the lead and raising $30 million for the race. Even with their belated efforts — and a visit to the state by Bill Clinton — the Democrats have clearly held back, while Walker has been able to attract every major Republican figure in the country to campaign for him.
If Barrett loses, he will have a beef with the DNC and national Democrats who delayed supporting him until it was too late.
4. Where’s Obama?
Bill Clinton’s appearances in the state over the final weekend drew large, enthusiastic crowds and gave a psychological boost to the Barrett campaign.
So why won’t President Obama commit some of his prestige to the recall effort?
Last year, when union anger was at its zenith, the president, as Byron York points out, was “eager to identify with the union cause”:
“Some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where they’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions,” Obama told a Milwaukee TV reporter in February 2011.
That was then; this is now:
‘This is a gubernatorial race with a guy who was recalled and a challenger trying to get him out of office,” top Obama campaign official Stephanie Cutter said Wednesday on MSNBC. “It has nothing to do with President Obama at the top of the ticket, and it certainly doesn’t have anything to do with Mitt Romney at the top of the Republican ticket.”