Wisconsin Recall Vote comes with High Turnout

Recall votes on 6 republican state senators are being held today in Wisconsin. All 6 hold seats in traditionally republican areas of rural and suburban Wisconsin.  Tons of outside money has poured in for some of the most vituperous ads in political history.  It’s been a match of high money rollers on the republican side and on the ground voter turn work by unions on the democratic side.  Indications are that turn out is as high as it usually is in a presidential race.

Various clerks in the recall districts reported steady turnout so far with some projecting numbers that will rival a presidential election.

In the 10th SD in western Wisconsin, River Falls City Clerk Lu Ann Hecht said today’s numbers could be as high as the 2008 Presidential election. The city issued 1,003 absentee ballots, twice as many as a regular election.

The municipality is home to both GOP Sen. Sheila Harsdorf and Dem challenger Shelly Moore.

“We expect the turnout to remain steady throughout the day,” Hecht said.

Hudson City Clerk Nancy Korson said voter turnout in Hudson, also part of the 10th, would likely not reach the levels of a presidential election. But they were comparable to the spring Supreme Court election, with over 500 absentee ballots received.

In Baraboo, Deputy Clerk Donna Munz said turnout was much higher than normal. She also said she’d received voter complaints over people at some polling places contacting them as they went into the polling places. At one, about nine people were outside and some voters said they were angry that they felt intimidated.

“We have received angry calls from voters regarding how persistent the people outside the polling places are,” Munz said.

In the 8th SD, one of the top races with GOP Sen. Alberta Darling and Dem Rep. Sandy Pasch, Whitefish Bay officials reported a steady stream during the morning, but said it was too early to say how turnout would end up in Pasch’s hometown.

In River Hills, where Darling lives, Village Clerk Barb Goeckner reported steady turnout through the morning. By 9:45 a.m., about 200 of the municipality’s 1,300 registered voters had cast ballots.

“It’s just been steady,” she said. “It’s not been a mad rush. We don’t have any lines, but it’s definitely been a steady turnout so far.”

In the 2nd SD, DePere officials predicted a turnout of around 45 percent by day’s end. In next door Green Bay, turnout was around 15 percent following the morning checks with polling places. In the April Supreme Court race, turnout was about 11 percent following the morning checks.

A lot is at stake in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Republicans are in real danger of losing control of the state Senate in tonight’s recall elections, as it looks more and more possible that they will lose at least three of the six seats that are on the ballot.

The losses would be cast by Democrats as a severe rebuke of Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) policies. And wins by Republicans would be cast by them as validation for Walker’s tough-love budgeting style.

Both of those evaluations would be fair. (For more on just how we’ve gotten here, see Michael A. Fletcher’s piece today and our primer from last week.)

Beyond Walker’s political capital, though, it’s hard to draw many broad national conclusions about what the recall elections mean. That’s because what’s happening in Wisconsin is occurring very much in a vacuum, for several reasons.

The first is that, as with special elections, these recall elections have have such unusual turnout and have received such inordinate attention from national third-party groups trying to influence the races and send a message. In fact, the recalls have essentially been special elections on steroids, with spending reaching nearly $30 million.

As of a couple weeks ago, about two-thirds of that has gone to benefit Democrats, and Republicans acknowledge that they were essentially caught flat-footed by the whole thing. And because of that, they’ve been fighting from behind in recent weeks.

“This is a referendum on Walker, and the Democrats have everything to lose, and the Republicans did not have a plan for what they started,” said one Republican monitoring the recalls. “And the national folks never saw it for what it was, which is a proxy fight.”

The proxy fight is between organized labor and the new coalitions of GOP governors and state legislative majorities. In the end, Walker’s gambit to cut collective bargaining rights through a legislative maneuver so badly irritated organized labor — and Wisconsin’s laws made it so easy to recall a member of the state legislature — that here we are amidst the biggest mass recall in United States history.

The second reason is that, while some Republican governors have been aggressive in cutting their budgets, the maneuver executed by Walker and the state legislature takes the cake.

The spending has been substantial according to ABC News.

The level of campaign spending has been unprecedented, especially considering it is a recall effort. Spending through Monday was estimated at about $28 million from outside groups on both sides of the aisle and about $5 million spent by the candidates themselves, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

That number was expected to increase by today. Wisconsin Democracy Campaign officials “estimate at this point it’s about even,” research director Mike Buelow said of spending on both sides.

The group will do a full accounting of spending after the election and will have a clearer picture of whether the spending totals are even.

JR Ross, the editor of Wispolitics.com, said turnout will determine which side is victorious by the end of the day.

“I don’t care who you talk to who says they know, they don’t,” Ross said. “It’s all about turnout. We’re in an unprecedented situation. … We don’t have elections in August in Wisconsin in the middle of summer.

“We do know that Democrats and union members are motivated and angry at Republicans and Walker specifically. If Republican voters can match that intensity and turn out in numbers to protect their guys, [then the Republican senators will be safe]. If not, the Democrats win control.”

Polls in Wisconsin close in less than an hour and the returns may be mostly in by  10 pm cst.  We’re going to follow those here in a live blog thread.

55 Comments on “Wisconsin Recall Vote comes with High Turnout”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Greg Sargent: Wisconsin recall fight ends where it began: With a Big Lie

    Whatever happens tonight in Wisconsin, it has been a constant of this fight that Republicans have consistently falsified the reason labor and Dems have waged this battle so bitterly. They have steadily downplayed the most extreme union-busting aspect of Scott Walker’s proposals, and have falsely asserted throughout that Dems and labor only made this stand because Walker asked public employees to cough up health and pension benefits.

    So it’s fitting that as the recall elections hit their climax, the leader of the national GOP repeated this lie in the most hilariously blatant way yet. Here’s RNC chair Reince Priebus on CNN this afternoon:

    ANCHOR: Is there buyers’ remorse in your home state of Wisconsin with Republican/Tea Party policy making?
    PRIEBUS: No. I don’t think there’s any buyers’ remorse at all. You have a leader in Scott Walker who asked state employees to pay just a little bit more in pension and healthcare benefits, which was about half of what the rest of the state pays in those benefits. And that’s all he did. Now, in reaction to that, the public employee unions took $25 million, they put together a petition drive, and now they’re dumping millions of dollars on television trying to recall the senators for trying to balance a state budget. It’s the same type of tough choice that is were made in Wisconsin that the Republicans are trying to present to Americans in Washington.

  2. dakinikat says:

    Early numbers are coming in … many of the Dems look to be ahead.

  3. dakinikat says:

    They are reporting that some of the voting places in the heavily democratic precincts are just closing because the waits to vote were so long.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Republican Sandy Pasch has won in Whitefish Bay.

  5. dakinikat says:

    robertcostaNRO Robert Costa
    by daveweigel
    Local news channels calling race across the board: Cowles is safe. 5 left

  6. JeanLouise says:

    I won’t like it but I don’t care if every Republican wins. At some point, Americans are going to be so desperate that they will revolt either at the ballot box or in the streets. With the Republicans and their Democratic collaborators leading average Americans into serfdom, something’s got to give as it has all through our history.

  7. dakinikat says:

    downwithtyranny Howie Klein
    GOP holding back 10 easily manipulated Waukesha precincts back in the Pasch-Darling race. It makes me nervous given the history of cheating

    • dakinikat says:

      AlterNet AlterNet
      RT @thinkprogress: WISCONSIN UPDATE: 3 races to go. One Dem looks like a likely winner. Two are very very close. Dems need all three.

    • dakinikat says:

      emptywheel emptywheel
      So how many MORE GOP residents do we project Waukesha will have by 3AM than they did they last time Waukesha stole an election?

      • dakinikat says:

        Yall remember Waukesha where they magically found 5000 votes? Just enough to bring back the misogynist judge that’s now under investigation for choking another justice?

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Republican Sen. Luther Olsen has lead in 14th District, but precincts not yet in from Dem Clark’s hometown of Baraboo. #wirecall

  9. dakinikat says:

    joshtpm Josh Marshall
    BIG PICTURE: Dems need three to take #wisc senate. Theyve won 1. Another looks likely to be a win. Another way to close to call.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    I’m listening to Ed Schultz now. They are saying King has a chance to win her race.

  11. bostonboomer says:

    Stephanie Schriock — President of EMILY’s List, a political action committee that works to get pro-choice, Democratic women elected to office — congratulated District 32 winner Jennifer Shilling (D) in a press release:

    “Jennifer Shilling’s victory is felt by women all over the country who are fed up with the Republican war on women,” said EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock. “As a State Assemblywoman, Jennifer tirelessly fought to protect jobs and create opportunities for economic growth. She refused to let her work be undone by Gov. Scott Walker and Dan Kapanke’s radical anti-woman, anti-family agenda.

    “Jennifer is headed to the Wisconsin State Senate to lead as a trusted voice for women and families in Wisconsin. The EMILY’s List community was proud to support Jennifer’s campaign and we look forward to her leadership in Madison.”

  12. bostonboomer says:

    Jessica King (D) is projected to win her district. Sandy Pasch is leading by 1200 votes. One more race not called yet.

  13. Pat Johnson says:

    I just tuned into Ed Schultz after the Red Sox game – yippee, they won again!!!- and two of the races are too close to call at this moment.

    Fingers crossed that at least one of the two goes our way.

  14. dakinikat says:

    AlterNet AlterNet
    RT @thinkprogress: Pasch (D) now leads Darling (R) by 1738 votes in deciding race.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      It’s amazing and wonderful that two women have won such a victory. If this isn’t “sending a message” I’m not sure what does.

      These are the kind of women we mean when we say we want more female representation.


      • dakinikat says:

        Yup. Two WONDERFUL women is right.

      • Fannie says:

        I’m so very glad, but worried about Sandi just now…….the vote in Waukesha county is being held up………you know they’ve had problems with voting irregularities from republicans in the past in that County.

  15. The Rock says:

    3 Republicans and 2 Democrats already on the books. Waukesha will be the deciding county…

    Hillary 2012

  16. bostonboomer says:

    Today 0:04 AM Dem Spokesman Accuses County Clerk Of ‘Tampering’ With Votes
    Patch reports:

    BREAKING: Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesman Graeme Zielinski calls a press conference and accuses Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus of “tampering” with votes for Menomonee Falls. He said she is “sitting on” the votes, and he will be back with more details.

    In the state Supreme Court race in April, Nickolaus came under fire for not counting all votes before reporting to the media

  17. Fannie says:

    Did you hear the county Clerk in Waukesha County keeps the voting information on her personal computer and not her work computer…………wtf?

  18. Pat Johnson says:

    Just copied this off the live Twitter feed at HuffPo. Looks like Kathy Nicklaus is working overtime tonight.

    BREAKING: Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesman Graeme Zielinski calls a press conference and accuses Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus of “tampering” with votes for Menomonee Falls. He said she is “sitting on” the votes, and he will be back with more details.

  19. Fannie says:

    WTH, Sandi has been leading all night by 1,000 votes, and now all of a sudden, he’s leading by 3,000…………………not to mention that Co. Clerk refuses to allow techincians to see her computer…………….if this don’t stink, I don’t know what does.

  20. Pat Johnson says:

    I was wrong. Instead of finding those “lost ballots” in her purse it seems she is pulling them out of her ass.

  21. Fannie says:

    Waukesha county might not release their results until tomorrow………….what the fugg is going on.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Remember during the presidential primary in Gary, Indiana when the mayor held back the votes for hours? What had been predicted in that state as a win for Hillary by about 13 percentage points ended up as only a lead of 2 percentage points when that city finally declared the votes.

      • Fannie says:

        I didn’t remember Gary, Indiana…………but I do remember obots telling Hillary to get out, get out, and give your donar and supporter list to Obama………fugg that.

      • northwestrain says:

        Pat I remember — everything about that nasty election and that mayor’s actions.

  22. Minkoff Minx says:

    @news3jessica: with 96% of the vote in, News 3 is calling District 8 for Incumbent Sen. Alberta Darling. #wirecall

    4 min ago

  23. Jen Rubin says:

    Thanks for the good reporting. It is insane the amount of money that was spent for both the D and R candidates. The over $30 million spent on these 9 senate races created so much noise that where each candidate stands on issues gets drowned out. Out of control spending in elections is the main culprit in the train wreck of our electoral system.

    Check out the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s (WDC) website to follow the money yourself: http://wisdc.org/index.php?module=cms&page=17 and join the WDC small dollar democracy initiative: http://wisdc.org/index.php?module=cms&page=3272