Walker’s success a weak indicator for general

Published 11:24 am Thursday, June 7, 2012

Daily Herald editorial

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, known for his blunt efforts to weaken public employees’ unions, added another accomplishment this week when he survived a recall election. Although many in the media and many who support Walker’s political point of view have called the election an indicator of how November’s national election will go, we have our doubts about whether the Wisconsin contest means all that much one way or another.

Trying to translate the Wisconsin gubernatorial race into an indicator of how the presidential election or other states’ election will go is a chancy business. The election was, in almost every respect, a one-of-a-kind situation. It strikes us as unlikely that the special circumstances in Wisconsin translate to other races — and certainly no one really knows whether it does. But columnists and television talking-heads have space and time to fill with commentary, and calling Wisconsin a predictor is a lot more interesting than saying that it is not. And, of course, many politicians have strong opinions about what the race meant — even if those opinions are simply nightmares or wishful thinking (depending on which side one favors).

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There is no doubt that Walker’s ability to survive a recall challenge will have a major impact on the state he governs. But the reality is that the Wisconsin recall election had a lot more to do with Wisconsin politics, including the viability of Walker’s competitor, than with anything else. We urge caution in using the results to predict anything, one way or the other, about November.