The Wisconsin exit poll evidently reported the race for governor in the recall ballot as 50%-50%. With 92% of the vote in, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s excellent website reports the score as 54%-46% Walker. Let’s say that’s the final results: only 13% of precincts from Milwaukee County and 3% of precincts from Madison’s Dane County—the Democrats’ two reservoirs of big majorities—remain uncounted. 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%."Wisconsin is very much in play in November. And Scott Walker’s victory will not, to say the least, hurt Mitt Romney."
This is in a state that Obama carried 56%-42% in 2008. But those putative numbers also look very much like the numbers in 2000, when Al Gore carried Wisconsin 47.8%-47.6% over George W. Bush, or the numbers in 2004, when John Kerry carried Wisconsin 49.7%-49.3% over Bush.
Turnout was high in Wisconsin, at least 7% above that in the November 2010 general election. Which leads me to this conclusion: Wisconsin is very much in play in November. And Scott Walker’s victory will not, to say the least, hurt Mitt Romney.
*Mitofsky found that the biggest WPE, Within Precint Error, where exit poll results tilted most heavily toward Democrats compared ithe actual vote, were in precincts where the interviewers were female graduate students. Go figure.
Michael Barone is a Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.