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Predictions For Wisconsin Recall Elections On August 9th

August 6, 2011

Let me start with the obvious.

Whatever happens on Election Night it will all come down to turnout.  There are some reports that Tuesday might produce record-setting vote counts in some areas of the state.  I hope that to be the case, as it will demonstrate voter interest and responsibility. 

At the same time this is summer.  Frankly I still think a large part of the citizenry are more connected to baseball games and family vacations than the votes of Luther Olsen.  Therein lies a large part of the problem for Democrats.

While there has been amazing energy on the Democratic side I am not confident there will be enough that is required to undertake the mission they have assigned themselves.  Flipping the state senate was a bold idea, but in my estimation it will not happen this summer. 

There was never any scenario that paved an easy path to gaining the Democratic majority, and after this process is over it will show just how difficult such an idea truly is during recall elections.  Especially when Republicans in Wisconsin are noted for doing very well with special elections.  On top of that the votes garnered by Justice David Prosser this spring show some strong indication of the problems Democrats have in certain areas of the state.

Before I get to the predictions I want to applaud the political volunteers from both sides of the aisle.  Countless volunteers phoned and knocked on doors, and thereby proved the level of enthusiasm for these candidates.  Be they Republican or Democrat, the volunteers for these campaigns are to be commended for political participation.  At the end of the day they show what is best about the spirit of this state, and the level of involvement that people are still called towards in support of their ideals.

There has been a very negative side to these races, and this is due primarily to the obscene amount of money that was dropped into Wisconsin.  That single act has  probably done as much to dismay voters as anything else.  There is never a positive way to spin a nasty television ad.  It only leaves everyone feeling dirty.

Having said all that there is no way to make predictions worth their salt in the recall elections due to the volatile nature of the electorate, and how this whole scenario has played out.  There is also no past evidence to use as a way to measure the current situation.  I state this not as a way to cushion myself should I be dreadfully wrong, but just to state what is the obvious lay of the land. 

The reason anyone ventures to make a prediction(s) is that there is some fun to the guessing.  That is the case here at CP, where we love politics!

Readers know my political leanings, but as with everything else here on my blog, I call them as I see them.  Readers are more than welcome to leave their own thoughts. 

In spite of all the talking, speculating, and analyzing at the end of the day it all comes down to my stomach to guide the way.

That political compass within me over the past weeks has been turning downwards on the Democratic chances for anything meaningful to come out of the recall elections.  Out of the six Republicans trying to hold their elected office, I predict five of them will prevail.

Sen. Dan Kapanke will be the one that needs to close shop and move on from his Capitol office.  He was the weakest from the start, and nothing has altered my perception that he was ever going to survive.  His troubles were all waiting for him well before there was a collective bargaining bill.  After the pounding that Jennifer Shilling made in the primary there is nothing left than for someone to write Kapanke’s political obituary.

But after that there is no good news for the Democrats Tuesday.

Sen. Randy Hopper, for all of his personal demons and irksome qualities still resides, at the end of the day, in the lap of conservative Republicans.  There is no way, barring some tawdry llama story, that Hopper gets pushed out of office by Jessica King.   King ran an admirable race, but this was always strictly an up-hill affair in the Fond du Lac area.  For all the preaching about moral correctness Republicans and their conservative kin will hold their nose and support the one who swears to protect their money.  That is all they care about.  Issues of the soul will have to wait for a higher judge. Hopper wins.

Sen. Luther Olsen has pushed back hard on the recall effort and looks reasonable in the process.  Olsen has even used the collective bargaining issue to his advantage in at least one ad.  Fred Clark made some stupid missteps, and in a tight race, as it will be in the 14th District,  those errors will cost him.  Olsen wins.

Sen. Alberta Darling raised enough money to run for two senate seats, and that money will help shape the outcome on Tuesday.  The  charges back and forth between the two campaigns will be seen, I suspect, by most voters as par for the course in political combat. I think both candidates gain as much as they lose over this past week’s squabbles.  Rep. Sandy Pasch is a brisk and feisty campaigner, but the energy that was present in March over the fight in Wisconsin has been watered down with a whole series of political issues that dim the focus of why this recall is taking place.  That was a misstep by the Democratic Party statewide.  In addition, Prosser kicked some serious butt in this district, and that can only help assure the Republicans.  Darling wins.

Sen. Rob Cowles was never in doubt of not winning.  This guy knows how to play his constituents, and I mean that in a respectful way.  He understands how to pivot on issues enough to stay in office, and his track record of victories is proof.  I think this was a race that Democrats should have never started and used the money for other areas of the state.  Cowles wins.

If there is one race I am less sure about it is the one where Sen. Sheila Harsdorf is being challenged by Shelly Moore.  This one could prove to be one I am wrong about.  But if the trend of not talking openly about collective bargaining is something that hurts Dems statewide, and getting every Democrat to the polls is an issue, then the same will hold true for Moore’s chances.  So I take a deep breath, and predict Harsdorf wins.

  1. Joann Frye permalink
    August 9, 2011 2:48 PM

    Yes, I hope you are wrong. And, I have never read your blog before and it is obvious that you are giving a Republican spin to your prediction.

  2. August 8, 2011 9:07 PM

    Thanks. Appreciate the break-down. Oh, and that book on your reading pile? “The President is a Sick Man”? Excellent. Just read it last week.

    Good luck, Wisconsin!

  3. August 8, 2011 8:13 PM

    Not a bad way of looking at things. I guess I have another way of looking at it. When you look at the data, the Republicans are a little more vulnerable than it would seem. Hopper was already losing by a half-landslide in polling back in March according to SurveyUSA. Kapanke is gone. And I think Olsen and Clark are really going to make a game of it. And while you acknowledge the fact that Darling has raised a bazillion dollars, so has Pasch, and so have the outside groups running ads on both their behalves.

    Anyhoo, here’s my take on it:

  4. Lisa MaKarall permalink
    August 8, 2011 8:44 AM

    I think you forget that almost half of Wisconsin’s eligible voters sat it out in 2010.
    Hopefully, many of them have learned their lesson and will be there to support the Democrats. I met many people in Madison that said so and many who voted for Scott Walker and will be first in line to sign their names to his recall.

  5. August 7, 2011 8:14 PM


    I hope I am wrong, too. Might you care to share how I might be wrong. Or are you not sure?

  6. Tearsa permalink
    August 7, 2011 7:55 PM


    I predict your prediction is incorrect.

  7. Michael Leon permalink
    August 7, 2011 8:01 AM

    One thing to remember is that most voters, especailly in Wisconsin, are not ideological.

    Clerks in Hopper’s district suggest a very heavy turn-out.

    Though the religious right will get their folks to the polls, I find it hard to believe that the casual voter will cast her lot for Randy Hopper.

    Obama took Hopper’s district with 53 percent of the vote in 2008.

    Fond du Lac, Waupun, Oshkosh and the area have always been more visceral than ideological.

    In any event the CW among at least some GOP people is that Hopper is toast.

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