Voter turnout will determine who wins Wisconsin

MADISON, Wisc. — In analyzing the final polls that came out in the twilight of the recall election that will decide the fate of Wisconsin???s Gov. Scott Walker today, Wisconsin Public Television reporter and much-respected political analyst Adam Schrager told Human Events: ???My sources on both sides agree — they have never seen ???undecideds??? so low.???

Schrager was right.  Whether it was the final PPP poll giving Republican Walker a 50 to 47 percent edge  over Democrat Tom Barrett among likely voters, or the Marquette Poll on Monday showing Walker defeating Barrett 52 to 45 percent, or the recent Rasmussen poll putting the race at 50 to 45 percent for Walker against Barrett, the common denominator is that so many voters have made up their minds and so few have not.

That would mean that victory in a close race depends on whether the Walker or the Barrett campaign turns out the most supporters.  Put another way, after more than $60 million has been spent by either side in the third recall race of a governor in U.S. history, all but a few of Badger State voters have definite opinions on Walker and Barrett — who squared off against each other for the governorship in 2010.

At first glance, it would appear that Walker has a built-in advantage in this area.  According to a recent Marquette University Law School survey of likely voters, 92 percent of Republicans said they were ???absolutely certain to vote??? while only 77 percent of Democrats said they were ???absolutely certain to vote.???

However, the sheer magnitude of the expected turnout makes it difficult to say whether it is Republicans or Democrats who are showing up at the polls.  A few days ago, the Wisconsin State Journal reported that ???election officials are predicting between 60 and 65 percent of the voting age population, or about 2.6 to 2.8 million people, will cast regular or absentee ballots??? in Wisconsin today.  If that figure proves accurate, it will mean the turnout in the recall election will dwarf the 49.7 of voters who turned out for the statewide election in 2010 that brought Walker to power and elected Republican Ron Johnson U.S. Senator.

On Monday, the Government Accountability Board reported that there had been 206,128 requests for absentee ballots which, political reporters and consultants say, is a very high figure and portends an extremely high turnout for the race today.

As to just where the turnout will be coming from and which side is more adept at getting its supporters to the polls is unclear. The unions demonstrated what their manpower can do earlier this year when they collected more than 900,000 signatures ???or more than twice the number required to force a recall election of Walker???and did so in sixty days.  In addition, the unions were pivotal to forcing recall elections on GOP Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefish and three Republican state senators.

But Walker and the Republicans demonstrated they can raise the resources needed to go toe-to-toe with the union forces.  Since January 1, Walker???s committee has raised more than $30 million and in the first quarter of the year, GOP consultant Scott Becher told us, ???he raised more money of any candidate in the United States with the exception of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.  His total for that quarter exceeded the combined total raised by [GOP presidential hopefuls] Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul.???

The outcome is also far from certain, several pundits told us, because of the unprecedented scenario of a very high turnout on a hot summer day in June.  As Steve Walters, producer of the popular ???Wisconsin Eye??? public television show, put it: ???We so far out to sea, and there are no buoys.???


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Walker moves toward win in recall election by John Gizzi