Wisconsin Recall Elections: All That's Certain Is Big Money Inflow

Brian Reilly, a worker at the Ripon, Wis. birthplace of the Republican Party, Aug. 1, 2011. i i

Brian Reilly, a worker at the Ripon, Wis. birthplace of the Republican Party, Aug. 1, 2011. Scott Bauer/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Scott Bauer/AP
Brian Reilly, a worker at the Ripon, Wis. birthplace of the Republican Party, Aug. 1, 2011.

Brian Reilly, a worker at the Ripon, Wis. birthplace of the Republican Party, Aug. 1, 2011.

Scott Bauer/AP

Whether Republicans in Wisconsin will keep control of the state Senate or Democrats will take over after Tuesday's recall election is unclear, even a day before the polling stations open.

To block the agenda of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, the state's controversial chief executive, Democrats must pick up three Senate seats currently held by GOP lawmakers to gain control of the upper chamber.

But, again, last minute polling doesn't provide much clarity on what's likely to happen.

DailyKos, the liberal political web site, commissioned polls that indicate voter sentiment is likely so split that the outcome can't safely be predicted.

Six Republicans face recall elections Tuesday, a reaction to their support for Walker's successful push to greatly reduce the collective-bargaining rights of the state's public employee unions. Two Democrats face recall elections next week.

DailyKos polled voters in four of the GOP-incumbent races and found two races where there seemed to be a clear favorite; in one the incumbent Republican led by 14 points, in another the Democratic challenger had an 11 point lead.

Two other races were either within or near the margin of error.

Though control of the state senate was up in the air, more certain was that the recall elections have attracted not just substantial national attention but impressive money.

From the Wisconsin State Journal:

Cash flowing into the recall elections from third-party interest groups already has approached $30 million, election watchdogs say, and total spending by third-party groups and candidates could top $40 million.

That total would double spending on all 116 of last fall's state legislative races combined. About $19.25 million was spent in those races for 17 Senate seats and 99 Assembly seats, which included 312 candidates on the primary ballot and 225 candidates in the November 2010 general election, said Mike McCabe, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign executive director.

Wisconsin Public Radio has extensively covered the partisan recall battle in the Badger State since the start of the year.

Many Democrats in Wisconsin and nationally have argued that when voters in the state elected Walker and other Republicans into power last year as part of the GOP wave that swept the nation, they weren't giving Republicans a mandate to roll back the rights of public sector unions. Tuesdays this week and next will test that argument.

Another excerpt from the State Journal:

"Rarely in American politics do you have a chance for a do-over," UW-Madison political science professor Charles Franklin said. "This is as close to a do-over as you are going to get."

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