In the six recall elections handpicked by Big Labor in Wisconsin, Democrats had the money and the intensity in their favor. All they lacked, it turns out, was the votes. (The AP tabulation of the results is here.)
In the event, Democrats won only two of the six contested Senate races, falling one short of the number that they needed to obtain a Senate majority. In the pivotal race of the evening, long-time Republican Senator Alberta Darling pulled out a victory that is secure beyond the margin of cheating. Trailing most of the evening, she won going away in Senate District 8 with 54 percent of the vote. In the words of the old country song, she’s everybody’s Darling plus mine.
Democrats picked off Dan Kapanke in a Democratic leaning district in western Wisconsin and the personally compromised Randy Hopper in Senate District 18 — in a cliffhanger, 51 to 49 percent. Nate Silver’s reading of the vote last night before all the results were in is illuminating. The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack read the entrails after all the votes were counted.
The unions are said to have poured $30 million into these six races. The advertising attacking Sheila Harsdorf and supporting Shelly Moore seemed ubiquitous, turning up on local Fox News broadcasts here in Minnesota as well as on right-leaning sites like Power Line served by automated feeds. Yet Harsdorf won with 58 percent of the vote.
Despite the fact that Republicans only narrowly escaped the evening with their Senate majority intact, this has to be viewed as something of a grand failure for the Democrats and their paymasters. All in all Republicans had a good August night when one would not have been surprised to find the attention of voters pursuing normal lives turned elsewhere. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the public spirited people of these Senate Districts who turned out in sufficient numbers to return Senators Darling, Harsdorf, Cowles and Olsen to office.
I fell asleep last night before the final results in Darling’s race were in and the outcome remained in doubt. I worried about it in my sleep, but dreamed that I woke up this morning to see hangdog expressions on the faces of the crew on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, from which I inferred that Republicans had hung on. In this case, the dream was certainly the fulfillment of a wish.
The gloom must extend even to the offices of the Minneapolis Star Tribune this morning, where the editorial board couldn’t avoid weighing in this week. According to the Star Tribune, “Wisconsin election is the one to watch.” If there is a liberal cliche missing from the editorial, it was an accident. It was not through lack of effort. If any of our Minnesota readers still subscribe to the Star Tribune, I beg you to cancel your subscription. The paper is incorrigible (as we saw during the Minnesota cage match in June and July).
Winston Churchill was speaking from experience when he asserted that there is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result. The unions’ shot wasn’t quite without result last night, but the outcome of this engagement of the Battle of Wisconsin is exhilarating nonetheless.
UPDATE: At the Washington Examiner, David Freddoso reads the results as I do. Reader Dan O’Brien writes from Massachusetts to add: “I too had trouble sleeping re Wisconsin election. Congrats to all your Wisconsin readers.”