What a nice boost to optimism on a Friday morning!
Late Thursday afternoon, a county clerk in a Republican district in Wisconsin discovered that a bunch of votes had not been recorded in the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court race, and the net effect gave the incumbent Republican David Prosser a big lead -- big enough even to avoid a state-funded recount. This story has not reached much of the new services yet; read about it here.
The counting is not over yet, so let's not break out the champagne, but this is certainly a nice reversal.
To recap events, Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to shift power away from public employee unions and help Wisconsin cut its government spending had spread to the election for Supreme Court justice. The WI Court had a 4-3 Republican majority and was in line to review the bill that the WI legislature just passed. If the Republican incumbent Prosser lost, the philosophical majority of the Court would not be sympathetic to the legislation. What should have been a noneventful, low turnout, low budget election in a liberal midwestern state turned out to be a national referendum on Republican attempts to cut government spending.
Initial results showed an extremely close race, but with the challenger Kloppenburg in the lead by a couple hundred votes.
I tried hard to rationalize the results, arguing that given the amount of liberal money and media attention, the fact that the race was even close in liberal Wisconsin should be a victory. But it was disappointing, and consistent with my bigger fear: that the public, even in the face of clearly unsustainable Federal and State deficit spending, would lose its backbone and not support drastic cuts in spending.
Now everything looks different. If Prosser wins, the conclusion is thus: Even in a liberal stronghold, after the left's best shots, including weeks of protests in the Madison capital that was covered nonstop in the media, and even given that what the Republicans were doing could easilly be cast in bad light ("stripping away" the right to negotiate by unions in the state that invented public unions) -- the public in the end continues to support the Republicans!
I think the Democrats in Washington who believe that the public will support them in their battle to keep the status quo in Federal government spending better reconsider their assumptions.