Solid Walker victory makes Romney's chances more optimistic.
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- Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2012 06:03:44 -0700 (PDT)
The solid Walker victory also created another potential hurdle for President Barack Obama as he fights to hang onto a traditionally Democratic battleground he won comfortably in 2008. And, at least for now, it gave presumptive Republican challenger Mitt Romney a reason to feel optimistic about his chances of winning a state that has voted for the Democratic nominee in the past six elections.
"Gov. Romney has an opportunity ... to come in between now and Nov. 6 and make the case that he's willing to make those same sort of tough decisions," Walker told Fox News Channel on the eve of his victory.
In the coming days, national Republicans and Democrats alike will re-evaluate the Wisconsin political landscape. In setting their presidential campaign strategies, they will take into consideration the state's 6.7 percent unemployment rate -- lower than the national average -- the heavy chunk of independent-minded voters and the partisan atmosphere that led to the effort to recall Walker.
Both Obama and Romney had been waiting until after the recall election to determine how hard to compete here. Even so, their teams had been hinting in the days leading up to the recall about how Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes fit into their state-by-state game plans for reaching the 270 electoral votes needed for victory.
Obama's team, which has been on the ground organizing but hasn't spent money on advertising for months, signaled this week that it believed the state had grown more competitive. In May, campaign manager Jim Messina had said Wisconsin was trending toward the president. By Monday, he was listing Wisconsin as "undecided."
There's no doubt now that Obama will defend his turf. Not that he has much of a choice.
"This means the Republican revolution is on. Barack Obama should start sweating," said Mordecai Lee, a government affairs specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. "It will revitalize the Tea Party side of the national party to say, 'Mitt Romney should go even harder to the right.'"
Romney now plans to compete in the state aggressively, looking to capitalize on the Republican momentum that carried Walker to victory. His team considers Wisconsin a top target, along with Florida, Ohio and Virginia, and more attractive than even Romney's native Michigan, where the campaign had hoped to establish an Upper Midwest beachhead.
"The close vote on Tuesday confirms that Wisconsin will be a swing state," said Republican strategist Terry Nelson, an adviser to George W. Bush.
An exit poll of voters Tuesday that was conducted for The Associated Press sketched the state of the race in Wisconsin five months before the election, though November's electorate might be substantially different.
Walker supporter Susan Piekenbrock said his victory would likely mean she'd support Romney but not guarantee it.
"Do I like everything Romney says? No," said Piekenbrock, a longtime Democrat-turned-independent from West Allis, a western suburb of Milwaukee. "I'll support Romney if the reform theme is the same as Walker's."
Danielle Scriver's support for Walker is synonymous with Romney. "When you consider Obama is the alternative, it's automatic," the Republican from Racine said.
Obama had a 51-44 percent edge over Romney in exit polling, and more Wisconsin voters said that the president would do a better job improving the economy and helping middle-class voters than his GOP rival would. A sizable 1 in 5, however, said they trust neither party's candidate on the economy, the main issue in the presidential campaign.
"These data points clearly demonstrate a very steep pathway for Mitt Romney to recover in the state," Obama's Wisconsin campaign director, Tripp Wellde, said in a statement.
But there are warning signs for Obama, too.
Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune
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Comments (20)Add / View comments | Discussion FAQ
Gigi T at 7:40 AM June 06, 2012
I read that part of Walker's reforms was the opportunity for teachers to drop their mandated union participation.
In the past 6 months membership in the teachers union dropped from something like 62,000 to 28,000 members.
Apparently many of the teachers see no benefit to membership.
jeff191 at 7:38 AM June 06, 2012
The only pollster that accurately predicted Walker's wide, 6-point victory was Rasmussen. The exit polls saying Obama has a lead over Romney ALSO predicted a dead heat. We know how that turned out. As such, they are worthless..
TDark1 at 7:34 AM June 06, 2012
Don't be so sure. There are many Obama supporters who support the struggle to derail out-of-control public sector costs. Public sector unions are strangling the middle class and are constricting the economies in States like Illinois. While I may not be a fan of all of Walker's tactics, you can't argue with the fact that he's been able to squeeze money out of the public sector without gutting essential state services. Illinois politicians from both parties need to do the same.
But come November, I'll still be supporting President Obama over stiff, elitist Romney who has yet to put forth a clear, concise and convincing plan on how he would deal with our economic malaise.
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