My colleague Greg Sargent reports that the circular firing squad is assembling in Wisconsin. He writes: “Top Wisconsin Democrats are furious with the national party — and the Democratic National Committee in particular — for refusing their request for a major investment in the battle to recall Scott Walker.”
It is not as if Big Labor hasn’t invested a whole bunch of money in this race. But you can see the outlines of an excuse if the Scott Walker recall fails: “Labor unions are expected to invest sizable sums in the ground game, but the top Wisconsin Dem Party official says it won’t be enough. ‘This idea that labor has unlimited resources is a fantasy,’ the Wisconsin Dem says. ‘Our needs go well beyond that.’”
Well, total spending on the recall for the Democrats and organized labor in 2011 was $14.7 million. Vastly more has been spent this year. We know, for example:
We Are Wisconsin, an AFL-CIO creation, has a PAC and independent expenditure fund that served as major channels for Big Labor and progressive money flowing into Wisconsin’s 2011 recall elections. For the 2012 recalls they are back in action funded in part by over $524,000 from AFSCME’s state and national accounts and $500,000 from the SEIU.
The National Education Association, according to research conducted by the John K. MacIver Institute, spent only $219,670 on Wisconsin’s 2011 recall elections. They became the first labor group to nearly triple their spending in Wisconsin in 2012 by pouring $668,457 into We Are Wisconsin’s political fund.
The Greater Wisconsin Committee has a PAC that received labor money from We Are Wisconsin. The independent expenditure arm of the Greater Wisconsin Committee took $500,000 from the Democrat Governor’s Association.
Firefighters for Mahlon, an independent group promoting Democrat lieutenant governor candidate Mahlon Mitchell, a firefighter’s union boss, netted a quarter million dollars from the International Association of Firefighters. The fund also benefited from the contributions of local firefighter’s unions from as far away as California and Oregon
But maybe this story is a sign of the DNC declining to throw good money after bad. It could be that national Democrats see the handwriting on the wall. The Hill reports on the latest numbers: “Walker has garnered 52 percent of likely voters, according to the We Ask America poll. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the top Democratic challenger, came in with 43 percent, with some 5 percent of Wisconsin voters undecided.”
That poll is startling insofar as in the 2010 gubernatorial race, with the same candidates, Walker won by 5 points. In that contest, the Democrats (37 percent) and the Republicans (36 percent) turned out in near identical numbers, with independent making up the balance (27 percent).
If, as the We Ask America poll suggests, enthusiasm is high on both sides and Walker leads among independents by only three points Walker must be winning over more Democrats than he did in 2010. The pollsters hint at that possibility: “Still, some of Walker’s detractors have been vocal about the fact that Walker was duly elected in 2010 and in most states would not be able to be challenged with a recall without greater cause. ”
It’s hard to read the tea leaves with limited polling, but Wisconsin Democrats sure don’t want to be blamed for what could turn out to be a fiasco for the state party, for organized labor, and for the party’s fortunes going into November elections. If Walker survives, this will surely go down as one of the most asinine political gambits in recent years. Better to chalk that up to lack of money from the DNC, right?