Did Republicans Overreach? Wisconsin Elections Could Tell

Posted on August 9, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

While the fates of six Republican lawmakers are on the line today in Wisconsin, the vote in this unprecedented special election has national implications for 2012.

Voters in Wisconsin are heading to the polls today to cast ballots in a recall election that could unseat six GOP state senators. The recall election is the result of a backlash against the austerity policies of Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP controlled house and senate that not only slashed state spending but also ended collective bargaining for its public employees.

Walker’s introduction earlier this year of his anti-union legislations sparked wide spread protests. The ensuing political drama included thousands of demonstrators converging on the state capitol and several Democratic lawmakers hiding in neighboring states to avoid voting on the measure, which was eventually signed into law.

Voter anger over the curtailing of collective bargaining rights, deep tax and spending cuts, political redistricting, and stricter voting laws prompted statewide recall petition drives that culminated in today’s special election and a second recall election next week of two Democratic senators. The recall elections could shift the balance of power in the Wisconsin senate to the Democrats. Republicans currently hold a 19-to-14 majority in the senate.

According to some political pundits, the outcome of Wisconsin’s recall elections will serve as a referendum not only on Gov. Walker’s political agenda, but also on similar policies being pursued in states controlled by Republican lawmakers.

Because of the national implications of the Wisconsin elections, millions of dollars of outside money from both liberal and conservative groups—an estimated $30 million—has poured into the state to influence the vote. The prevailing belief is that what happens in the Badger state will be reflective of voter attitudes nationwide going into 2012.

A victory by the GOP in the recall elections will be seen as an endorsement for the tea party agenda of deep spending cuts and no new taxes and will embolden the conservative movement. A Democratic win on the other hand will signal that the Republicans have overplayed their hand and that progressive and liberal voters will be energized to take the fight to the GOP in 2012.

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