Wisconsin voters go to the polls today for the first of six recall elections prompted by Gov. Scott Walker's controversial collective bargaining law—and interest is so high, some local officials predict "presidential-election level turnout," reports Politico. Campaign finance records have been shattered as outside interest groups on both sides have poured more than $30 million in, which comes shockingly close to the $37 million total spent last year on the governor's race. The Christian Science Monitor notes that a total of $35 million to $40 million, including candidate spending, is expected to be racked up when all is said and done. Last year, just $3.75 million was spent on state Assembly and state Senate elections, notes the Washington Post.
Why? Because, as one state senator's rep explains, "These recalls will have a ripple effect across the entire nation." Six Republicans face recall today, and two Democrats next week. Though the Democrats have a chance to win control of the state Senate, that would be an "almost entirely symbolic" victory since Republicans would still control the Assembly and the governor's mansion, a political scientist explains. Even so, a victory for the Democrats would be a stinging rebuke of the GOP agenda—which includes the collective bargaining law as well as tax cuts, education aid, and Medicaid cuts, and voter ID restrictions—and could lead to a recall effort against Walker himself. A Republican victory, on the other hand, could invigorate the Tea Party. Many see this as the first big contest of the 2012 election, since many other states, as well as the federal government, are fighting similar battles.