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Live Blog: Wisconsin Decides Governor’s Fate In Recall Vote

Filed by KOSU News in Politics.
June 5, 2012

One of the most closely watched and dramatic state races will come to a resolution today. Voters in Wisconsin are going to the polls to decide whether to replace first-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Shortly after he was elected, Walker passed legislation that severely limited the collective bargaining rights of public workers. Democratic politicians fled the state in an unsuccessful attempt to stall the law. Sixteen months later, after nonstop protests and a brutal campaign, we’ll know if Walker will keep his job, or if voters decide to trigger a recall and hand over the reins to Milwaukee’s Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett.

The race has also become a proxy of sorts for national politics. Both campaigns have been flooded with out-of-state money and many are looking at this race for clues as to how the general election in November will shape up.

The polls close at 9 p.m. ET. We will be live blogging tonight, keeping a close eye on Wisconsin, but also keeping in mind that there are primaries in California, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota. Refresh this page to see the latest updates.

Update at 8:45 p.m. ET. Voters Uncomfortable With Recalls:

We’ve got about 15 minutes to go before polls close in Wisconsin. So we’ll use that time to point to another interesting bit from tonight’s exit polls.

As The Washington Post reports, voters have been traditionally uncomfortable with recalls.

“Just three sitting governors have faced a recall vote in all of U.S. history,” the Post reports.

In fact, of those who voted today, 60 percent said recalls are only appropriate because of misconduct. Of course that differed depending on party. The Post reports:

“Republicans said by a near unanimous margin that recall elections are never appropriate or only appropriate in the case of official misconduct. But slight majority of Democratic voters said recall elections are appropriate ‘for any reason.’”

Update at 8:25 p.m. ET. A Record Breaker:

$63.5 million. That’s how much The Center For Public Integrity calculates both candidates and independent groups spent on the recall election in Wisconsin. That eclipses the previous record of $37.4 million set in during the gubernatorial race in 2010.

And most of that money came from outside the state. Here’s CPI with some details:

“While Barrett has received about 26 percent of his $4 million in campaign donations from outside the Badger State, Walker has drawn nearly two-thirds of his $30.5 million contributions from out of state, according to campaign filings released May 29. Walker has outraised Barrett 7 ½ to 1 since late 2011, though Barrett didn’t enter the race until late March.”

Update at 8:13 p.m. ET. What The Polls Say:

If you look at polls, Walker has an edge over Barrett, tonight. He has polled at around 50 percent over the past month or so. Real Clear Politics, which tracks polls, says that on average Walker leads by 6.7 points.

Yesterday, Nate Silver, The New York Times’ statistics guru, made a bold prediction. He said using one statistical model, Walker has a 95 percent chance of winning.

Silver adds:

“One of the new polls over the weekend, from Public Policy Polling, which conducts polling on behalf of Democratic clients as well as publishes its own polls independently, showed a somewhat tighter race, with Mr. Walker’s Democratic opponent, Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee, having closed his deficit to three percentage points. However, the firm has showed somewhat more favorable results for Mr. Barrett than other polling firms, and this reflected a relatively minor change from the firm’s previous poll, which had Mr. Walker ahead by five percentage points.

“At the same time, the Public Policy Polling survey had Mr. Walker at 50 percent of the vote and had very few undecided voters. The presence of undecided voters tends to correlate with higher unpredictability on Election Day, while the absence of them, as in this case, means that even a small lead is more likely to hold up.”

Update at 7:47p.m. ET. Heavy Turnout:

How significant is this recall election in Wisconsin? In some places, the turnout is being compared to the turnout for 2008′s presidential election. That’s what NPR’s Don Gonyea reported on All Things Considered this afternoon. In some precincts, said Don, turnout could exceed 100 percent.

And, yes, that’s possible when same-day registration is allowed.

NPR’s Liz Halloran is in the southside of Milwaukee and reports that turnout in the heavily Hispanic area has been heavy. “There were lines — not huge, but lines,” she tells us.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that turnout was so heavy in Milwaukee, the city’s Election Commission called out reserve poll workers. The paper adds:

“No statewide figures were available, but local election officials offered fairly similar accounts of a heavy turnout in communities large and small, in both Democratic and Republican areas.

“In many places, election officials said turnout was as strong as, or stronger than, it was for the 2010 gubernatorial election. A few even compared it to the 2008 presidential election.”

Update at 7:23 p.m. ET. Re-Electing Obama:

The New York Times’ exit polling finds that voters tonight would re-elect President Obama, who also bested the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney when voters were asked who would do a better job with the economy.

The questions, however, may not help Barrett. The Times reports:

“Polling in recent weeks has shown Mr. Walker leading even as voters said they preferred keeping Mr. Obama in office.

“That may reflect a queasiness with recall elections. A large majority of the voters who turned out on Tuesday said recall elections are only appropriate when incumbents are accused of official misconduct.”

Update at 7:16 p.m. ET. Exit Polls:

CNN is reporting some interesting numbers based on exit polls in Wisconsin. Among them:

– 32 percent of voters said someone in their household was a union member. 68 percent said they had no connection to a union. That’s a higher union turnout than 2010 and 2008, when that number was 26 percent.

– Voters are unhappy with both parties. 50 percent have an unfavorable view of the GOP and of the Democratic party.

– Most (88 percent) made up their minds about whom to vote for before May.

Update at 7:12 p.m. ET. Live Results:

You’ll find real-time results from Wisconsin below: [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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