I’ve cautioned that Republicans should not overinterpret the Wisconsin results and convince themselves of positive omens that don’t exist. I’ve noticed some of that occurring, but more obvious is the Democrats’ underappreciation of the problems that Wisconsin reveals for them. The best thing that could come from the Wisconsin election for Romney is that the Democrats didn’t learn any lessons.
Democrats rarely respect the legitimacy of their defeats. In this case, there are plenty of lessons they need to learn. The closer you look at the election results, the worse they were for the Democrats, starting with the fact that Governor Walker received over 200,000 more votes yesterday than he did when first elected in 2010.
I’ve heard a lot of commentary suggesting that Walker won because people are tired of recall elections. Well, if they are tired of recall elections, they would not have turned out in record numbers. I’ve heard Democrats take solace in the idea that Obama led Romney in the Wisconsin exit polls. Well, the exit polls were wrong regarding the Walker-Barrett race by about seven points.
Democrats shouldn’t be engaged in self-flagellation; but they had better be honest, at least among themselves. Wisconsin voters may have done Democrats a favor by highlighting an important new feature of the 2012 landscape. And that is that government unions may have begun to diverge from trade unions and middle class households. Trade and private-sector unions are beginning to resent the privileges that government unions have tried to guarantee for themselves. If there is a schism growing in Wisconsin, it could spread through the Midwest, and that would be a cancer for Obama and the Democrat ticket.
Republicans shouldn’t overreact, but if the Democrats underreact, they make their problems much worse.