• With: Jason Riley, Kim Strassel, James Freeman, Mary Anastasia O'Grady

    This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," June 9, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," Big Labor's bad night. What Scott Walker's Wisconsin win and California pension reform victories means for unions nationwide.

    Plus, Mitt Romney's Massachusetts record. The Obama campaign calls it one of the worst in the country. Is it? And how does it compare to the president's?

    All that, and the truth behind the male-female wage gap and Democratic attempts to exploit it.


    GOV. SCOTT WALKER, R-WIS.: Tonight, we tell Wisconsin, we tell our country and we tell people all across the globe that voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions.



    GIGOT: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

    That was Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin on Tuesday night after surviving a union-backed recall challenge. His seven-point win over Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett was even larger than his margin of victory when he was first elected two years ago. And it wasn't Big Labor's only loss of the night. Voters in San Jose and San Diego Tuesday overwhelmingly approved cuts to retirement benefits for city workers despite an aggressive campaign against the measures by public employee unions.

    Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman; Political Diary editor, Jason Riley; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.

    Jason, what does it tell us, this election, about the mood of the voters?

    JASON RILEY, POLITICAL DIARY EDITOR: It tells us that the voters are realists, Paul. They realize these states, governments are facing serious problems and they're going to reward politicians willing to stand up to special interest and try to solve it.

    GIGOT: Kim, the thing that struck me as remarkable was the turnout. Tom Barrett got 158,000 more votes than he got two years ago. Scott Walker got 205,000 more votes. And what does it tell you about the turnout operations about the parties.

    KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Both of these parties put in an immense amount of work on the ground game, in part, because both saw this as a preview for Wisconsin in the presidential election, too. There was a real benefit to getting people out there. They had a huge number of state-wide offices, the RNC, in particular, the Republican National Committee, volunteers everywhere. They registered a lot of folks. And the suggestion is that this may be a help to Mitt Romney, if he has the right message in the fall.

    GIGOT: But, Kim, this is the interesting thing to me. The Democrats had been talking about their ground game for months and weeks, OK? And everybody knew they were investing a lot of money in it. The big surprise, at least to me, was the Republican turnout. What have they been doing to match the Democrats?

    STRASSEL: This was collaboration between the Republican National Committee and the Wisconsin GOP. They opened more than two dozens offices and put together a voter list, called four million voters in the state, registered new people. They had an amazing turnout operation on the day. One of the fascinating things of this was the incredible support that the Republican got in places like the eastern parts of Wisconsin, where you need that huge turnout to equal out some of the more liberal turnout in some of the big cities. And they did that. He got more than 70 percent of the vote in a lot of the counties.

    GIGOT: Very interesting.

    What about the money, James? We're hearing a lot about that now where it's saying Walker out spent Tom Barrett eight to one. That was big money from around the country. And that was essentially the reason for this victory. Take out the money, the Democrats would have won.

    JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: The money is not that great considering the organizing activity and some of the -- some of the union activist in the state is really not really counted in those totals when you're talking about just discrete donations to Tom Barrett. There's a lot of other spending going on. But you're clearly seeing an enthusiasm gap. Money, you can buy a lot of commercials but what you saw in Wisconsin is a lot of people making up their minds before a lot of this --


    GIGOT: Almost 90 percent of voter in the exit polls said they had made up their minds days or weeks before the vote.


    FREEMAN: They decided early because Walker, amazingly, picked a big fight with unions, said we need to rein in government spending. And after this big ugly brawl, he ended up more popular.

    GIGOT: This also, Jason, was the results of a Citizens United Supreme Court decision that made it easier for corporations and unions to donate. This was a Wisconsin law that said if you are a governor challenged in a recall, you can raise whatever amount of money you want to defend yourself.

    RILEY: Paul, labor is looking for a scapegoat, whether they want to try to blame Citizens United or outside money, what have you. But if you look at the exit polls on how labor did among union households, they didn't do much better than in 2010. Walker won about 37 percent --

    GIGOT: Thirty-seven percent, yes.

    RILEY: -- of the union household. That's incredible. So they were able-- they weren't, the unions weren't able to move the needle much, even among households with members in it. That tells you something.

    FREEMAN: I think it's an interesting split going on between members of private-sector unions, that are actually in the economy, building houses, building products, and members of public-sector unions. And increasingly, the private guys don't really see that they have much in common with the public-sector unions --

    GIGOT: Because they pay taxes, too.

    FREEMAN: -- assume -- that's right. When the public-sector unions consume money, it comes from private-sector union households and that's where you see more of a third of them going for Walker.

    GIGOT: Kim, what about the other big news this week, which is the results in California, San Jose and San Diego, amazing. 70 percent and 66 percent supported these pension reforms. San Jose, Democratic mayor, liberal city. And yet, they voted to say, look, we're going to have to rein in pension benefits for workers.

    STRASSEL: Well, this is the other side of the story. The focus this week was on the political victory that Walker won in beating the recall. The reason he won it is because he showed that the policy's work, in that when you do the reforms, you save the state on spiraling health care costs and free up more money for schools. And voters are seeing that across the country. That's why you saw them weigh in in San Diego and San Jose. And you have about 30 more states that have collective bargaining. You're going to see efforts to sort of try to dismantle some of that because they've hit a wall and people are realizing, voters are realizing the only way you get things under hand is to take on these sites and to change the structure.

    GIGOT: Jason, briefly.

    RILEY: One of the things people are saying about Walker is that the reason there was so much division in Wisconsin was because of the way he went about this. If he'd been more conciliatory, if he had sugar-coated this more, perhaps the unions wouldn't have been upset.

    But to Kim's point, I don't think that's the case at all. The unions, these were structural reforms that the unions were not going to go for however much you sugar coated them. He had to play hard --


    GIGOT: Particularly mandatory collections of dues.

    RILEY: Exactly. Exactly. Their life line.