Promoted from the diaries by Jeff
In their frantic attempt to glean something positive from last night's shellacking in Wisconsin, we found the Obama campaign clinging (bitterly?) to the results of the exit polls. According to them, Obama was still beating Romney 51-45% in the state. Unfortunately, for them at least, they don't even get this satisfaction anymore. Michael Barone has done the analyzing:
It has been emblazoned on mainstream media that the exit poll also showed Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney in the state 51%-45%. But if you think the exit poll was 4% too Democratic—and that’s in line with exit poll discrepancies with actual vote results over the last decade, as documented by the exit poll pioneer, the late Warren Mitofsky*—that result looks more like 49%-47% Romney. Or assume the remaining Milwaukee County precincts whittle Republican Governor Scott Walker’s margin over Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to 53%-47%, which looks likely, the Obama-Romney numbers would look like 48%-48%.
But you know what? I can't say these results surprised me. Walker winning big is a real sign that Republicans would have a chance in that state. True, five months is an eternity in politics, but this wasn't just any off year election. This was the biggest election since 2010, and it confirmed that year's results: the people want common sense conservative governance. And, as @fivethirtyeight noted on Twitter:
Exit polls have been highly accurate in every recent election except 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
But that's not the only thing the Obama campaign ought to be worried about. This election found 38% of union voters broke for Walker. Not a majority, by any means, but that's digging deep into what is supposed to be a Democratic constituency. To add to their misery, Walker took about 18% of Obama voters. As The New Republic's Alec MacGillis notes, these voters displayed two major traits: recall fatigue and support for someone who was actually doing something, even though it might or might not have been their ideal way of doing those things. And he finds:
Now, the Obama campaign should not take too much comfort in these Walker-Obama voters. They are, after all, swing voters, and Romney and Walker will do their best to swing them in the next few months. But they are the reason why, as I argued yesterday, a Walker win was not necessarily going to as disastrous an augur for Obama as most of the commentariat was prepared to label it.
So, all in all, not a good day for Democrats. They got that Senate seat, but that's about it. And things may not be a bed of roses there, either. [Update: This story goes into more depth on the Senate control issue beyond the other link]