So much for that recount. Scott Walker won handily last night, and today everyone's talking about why, and what it means. Here's what pundits and strategists are saying went into, and might come out of, the win:
- The Democratic primary was a disaster, Democratic strategists tell Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post. Labor spent millions supporting Kathleen Falk, weakening eventual nominee Tom Barrett.
- Walker spent more. His campaign and outside conservative groups outspent the Democrats by 10 to 1 or more.
- Voters are suspicious of recalls. The strategists Cillizza talked to are convinced that the few undecideds in the race thought Walker deserved a full term before facing judgment again. A CBS exit poll found that 60% said recalls should only be used for official misconduct.
- Nobody likes Milwaukee. Most states dominated by one big city tend to resent that big city, which hurt Milwaukee mayor Barrett. Walker attacked the city as economically weak and crime-ridden.
- Walker didn't bend. This election was about Walker, who "won not despite his refusal to compromise, but because of it," argues Alex Altman of Time. "He cast himself as a politician of conviction, even when his convictions might not be popular." The truth is that voters "prefer their elected leaders to be ideologues."
- This wasn't about Obama. Exit polls show voters actually prefer the president to Mitt Romney 51% to 45%. But Russ Feingold worries that the vote "could have effects on the presidential race, the Senate race, sure," he told Politico. "There's always the risk of people being dispirited."