In our previous analysis, we noted that Wisconsin and California were holding elections this month. Now that the first installment of elections has passed, we have some commentary.
In Wisconsin, Republicans recruited “protest” candidates to run against their Democratic opponents, which meant that while the actual recall elections are in August, the party primaries were either last night (for the Democrats) or will be held next Tuesday (for Republicans seeking to recall three Democratic senators). In the Democratic primary held last night, the Democrats got anywhere from 54 to 70% of the vote, which suggests that there are some Democrats who are not necessarily interested in supporting the recalls. We will know for sure on August 9 (for the Republicans up for recall) and August 16 (for the Democrats being recalled).
In California, the Democratic candidate, LA City Council member Janice Hahn, was elected 55-45% over businessman Craig Huey in the special election in U.S. House District 36 (map here). Though this would seem to be an unequivocal endorsement of the Democrat, you’re talking about a district that gave John Kerry 59% and Barack Obama 64%. Additionally, Huey was an unapologetic conservative on social and economic issues, and he was served with a subpoena two days before the election regarding alleged unpaid child support – this legal action was captured on camera. Finally, the now departed Democratic incumbent, Jane Harman, always won re-election with at least 60% of the vote in the last decade. Even in the GOP landslide of 2010, she defeated her opponent 60-35%.
While we would like to see additional election results to confirm or modify our “Obama plunge” (explained here) theory, for now, we see that the plunge was about 10%, based on the election results/electoral history of House District 36 in California.
Looking ahead, we are most interested in the outcome of the Wisconsin recalls. This is a state that was one of the incubators of progressive legislation, and while it usually voted Democratic at the top of the ticket (the 1984 Reagan landslide was the last time this state voted Republican for President), Republicans have historically been successful in other races. If Republicans can maintain control of the state senate (which they currently control 19-14) by minimizing their losses/defeating one or more of the three Democrats they’re recalling, this would not be favorable for President Obama’s re-election, considering that he defeated McCain 56-42%, and two years later, he saw his party routed at just about every level in the state (they lost the U.S. Senate, the Governorship, two House seats, and control of both houses of the Legislature. Quite simply, a loss in Wisconsin puts other states like Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio (all of whom saw big Republican gains last year) in play.