Wisconsin’s big recall election showdown is over. Democrats won two of the six elections to recall Republicans, leaving the Democrats one short of the number necessary to get a majority in the Wisconsin Senate.
Each side is spinning the results. Republicans boast that they survived, despite an onslaught of union money, ads, and get-out-the-vote work. Democrats tout what they say is an historic result in recalling two Senators. In short, both sides think the election sent an unmistakable message to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the rest of the Wisconsin political establishment — they just disagree on what that message was.
Ohio is the next battleground. In November, Ohioans will vote on Issue 2, which would overturn a law limiting public employee collective bargaining. What do the Wisconsin results mean for that Ohio referendum? I’m not sure they mean much of anything. Wisconsin’s recall election necessarily raised questions about the individual candidates — one of the defeated Republicans, for example, had an affair that apparently hurt his chances — whereas Ohio’s Issue 2 will present a straight, up-or-down vote on the concept of limiting public employee collective bargaining.
Ohio polls seem to indicate that a majority favors repeal of the law. Wisconsin’s relevance in Ohio, if any, may turn on the actual results of the Wisconsin collective bargaining law that gave rise to the recall elections in the first place. If the results produce meaningful savings for local governments and school districts, as some argue is the case, that fact may resonate with Ohio voters who are worried about government spending and cause them to look more favorably on the idea of keeping the Ohio law on the books.