The Wisconsin Supreme Court race turned into a real nail-biter last night, with incumbent Republican Justice David Prosser and Democrat JoAnne Kloppenburg trading leads of a couple thousand votes back and forth. In the end, with 99% of the 1.5 million votes counted, Prosser came out with a lead of 585 votes.
However, most of the 34 uncounted precincts lean toward Kloppenburg. At the very least, it seems likely there will be a recount, so the final results may not come in for several days.
As John McCormack of the Weekly Standard notes, “One week ago, some internal polling showed that Prosser was trailing by the mid-to-high single digits. Turnout was higher than anyone expected. It looks like conservatives woke up in the end and closed the gap.”
Considering the amount of money and effort the unions poured into their crusade to take this Supreme Court seat, in a state that’s been a free-fire zone in the War On Taxpayers, it’s interesting that it wound up being this close. That won’t matter much to Wisconsinites if Kloppenburg ends up winning, and the unions use their complete control of the state to work the same kind of magic they’ve performed for Detroit all these years, but it will be factored into the strategic planning of both sides as similar battles unfold in other states.
It should also fortify Governor Walker and his Republicans to learn that the tales of their political demise have been greatly exaggerated. Kloppenburg performed substantially below expectations, crushing the narrative of a Democrat resurgence. That won’t come as a morale boost to those who have been working to recall Republican state representatives.
Of course, Democrats will try to spin the results the other way, saying that Kloppenburg was an unknown candidate when she began her race, and now she’s less than a thousand votes away from knocking off an incumbent. They’ll have a hard time selling that story to anyone who paid the slightest attention to the election, and knows about the titanic financial and organizational resources deployed to carry Kloppenburg to the photo finish. This is one of the uncommon instances where the incumbent was the underdog. At the very least, he made it a closer race than most observers expected.