Published May 25, 2012
Every day looks like Election Day in Wisconsin, now that early voting has started in Gov. Scott Walker's recall battle.
Lines spill out of the polling places in Milwaukee. Voters loiter around the front steps. About 90,000 absentee ballots have been requested and sent out.
Milwaukee Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett would like to think the early turnout is an indication voters are eager to unseat his opponent, the embattled Gov. Walker.
But the political winds aren't necessarily blowing in his favor ahead of the official vote June 5.
In all recent polling, the best Barrett has done is trail within the margin of error.
Then came the announcement that the liberal group Progressive Change Campaign Committee is pulling down a $112,000 pro-Barrett ad buy.
Wisconsin Republicans wasted no time jumping on that development to claim national Democrats are abandoning Barrett and cutting their losses.
"When your supporters begin pulling their ads off the air less than two weeks before an election date, it doesn't bode well for your campaign. Clearly Tom Barrett is in trouble," said Stephan Thompson, executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin.
Big-name Democrats were quick to counter.
"Our entire Obama for America Team and (Democratic National Committee) forces are dedicated to this," Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod told Fox News. "And now the DNC is sending out a fundraising e-mail to try and raise money (for Barrett). So, we're very committed to him."
The DNC responded by dispatching Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for a Barrett fundraiser at the end of the month.
Barrett spent part of the day Wednesday campaigning with former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold.
"He'll be a wonderful governor in bringing us together and stopping this divide and conquer attitude in the state," Feingold said.
That competes with the star power Walker is calling on from the Republican side. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie campaigned in Wisconsin earlier this month. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal of is making the rounds with him Thursday. Next up on the pro-Walker stump is South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
Democrats have been focusing their ads of late on an investigation that, according to leaks, questions whether staffers for Scott Walker acted illegally by working on his gubernatorial campaign while on the clock for the Milwaukee county executive office.
The dialogue rarely goes back to the fight over state employee unions and collective bargaining rights - though that's the fight that drew the protesters to Madison over a year ago and sparked the recall in the first place.
Walker says that means he is winning. "The whole basis upon which this recall election was, at least in his eyes, was about our reforms. And they don't talk about our reforms anymore because the reforms are working," he said.
If Walker wins, it could be interpreted as an indication President Obama will be vulnerable in Wisconsin come November. A Democrat has not lost Wisconsin since Walter Mondale went up against Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Axelrod says the president will do just fine.