* It’s decision time: After months and months of drama, today the voters have their say in elections to recall six GOP state senators who helped Scott Walker pass his onerous budgeting and anti-union proposals, which triggered a massive backlash that has turned Wisconsin into a dress rehearsal of sorts for 2012 and ground zero in the national war over the future of organized labor.
It will all be decided by turnout, and what’s got both sides nervous, as Dem pollster Mark Mellman told me the other day , is that there’s no precedent of any kind to predict turnout in a slate of six off-year recall elections. Andy Kroll has an eye-opening glimpse into the scope of the Dem/labor turnout operation. And National Review writer Robert Costa says “Republicans are worried” because Dems have energy on their side and are on track to oust GOP state senators Dan Kapanke and Randy Hopper, and only need to win one of two races against Alberta Darling and Luther Olsen, both of which remain very close calls, to take back the state senate.
As Chris Bowers rightly notes, the three races that will likely decide the outcome are those to recall Hopper, Darling, and Olsen — and there’s simply no predictive model in existence for the elections that are taking place today.
Whatever ends up happening, Wisconsin Dems and labor have already succeeded in one sense: They reminded us that it’s possible to build a grass roots movement by effectively utilizing the sort of unabashed and bare-knuckled class-based populism that makes many of today’s national Dems queasy. Their effort — whether or not they take back the state senate — could provide a model for a more aggressive, populist approach for national Dems in 2012.
* Dem predictions of victory in Wisconsin are premature: The labor-backed We Are Wisconsin leaks a memo to the media claiming that predictions of victory are “beyond premature,” a clear effort to game expectations downward.
Also: Both sides agree that the two races that will decide this thing are the recalls against Darling and Olsen.
* Unprecedented national money flows into recall fight: The out-of-state cash flooding the recalls is now at $25 million and counting. This is another reflection of the battle’s national significance for both sides and another factor making the contest unprededented and predictions of its outcome impossible.
* What’s at stake in Wisconsin: Tea Party groups who are organizing in the state worry that a Dem victory will make other GOP governors go all weak-kneed and refrain from pursuing their own Walker-esque union busting policies.
* Counterintuitive Wisconsin take of the day: Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake offer an interesting look at why Wisconsin outcome may not have national implications, largely because what’s happening there is unique and occuring in a vacuum of sorts.
* Left to Harry Reid: Time to get tough on “super-committee”: It’s good that unions and liberal groups are demanding that Harry Reid only appoint people to the debt ceiling “super-committee” who are prepared to draw a hard line on entitlements.
Dems again seem to be proceeding from the premise that it will be a political winner if they telegraph a willingness to compromise in advance, in order to marginalize the GOP as uncompromising and extreme.
* Standard and Poors fact check of the day: Post fact checker Glenn Kessler does a demolition job on Ryan’s claim that the Standard and Poors downgrade represents “vindication” for the Ryan plan, a notable difference from other media figures who have politely looked the other way while conservatives falsely claim the S & P downgrade as a political victory.
* No, both sides aren’t equally to blame for S & P downgrade: Eugene Robinson says what must never be said in polite company: One party is far more to blame than the other for S & P’s downgrade, which specifically cited the use of default as political leverage as a key rationale.
* Is the “pivot to jobs” finally happening? Jonathan Cohn finds reasons for cautious optimism, and the fact that it’s taken such dire economic news to light a fire under public officials shows how low expecations for government action on the economy have fallen.
* Another comical flip flop from Mitt Romney: He previously inveighed against “hidden special interests” funding our campaigns, but now he doesn’t think it’s a big deal that a shell corporation slipped his campaign $1 million before quietly closing up shop.
* Obama’s reading of American history: I’m a bit late to this, but don’t miss Michael Tomasky’s look at how Obama’s refusal to draw hard lines flows from inflated and misguided beliefs in his ability to unite and in the possibilities of civic-republicanism.
* And today in right wing media comedy: Fox News figures insist downgrade might be a good thing for the country before the network effortlessly pivots to bashing the President for the S & P downgrade.
What else is happening?