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No voter fatigue in Wisconsin as Republicans, Democrats continue to spend money, resources

 

Wisconsin voters, hammered hard by months of volatile campaigning as the state's union-backed Democrats push to recall-and-replace Republican Gov. Scott Walker, have only one more day to endure, but sides are pumping up the volume -- and spending -- for a critical get-out-the-vote effort.

Both parties, unions, political actions committees and other groups have pumped an estimated $70 million into the race, as the campaigns continue to  woo voters into Tuesday.

The Republican Governors Association has sent $1.5 million alone on get-out-the-vote efforts, which includes 16 different mail drops to more than 3.3 million voters, according to Politico.

The effort to recall Walker began shortly after he was elected in 2010 and began cutting the state’s huge budget shortfall by holding down taxes and removing collective-bargaining rights for unions representing state employees.

Democrats and unions argued that Walker had gone too far, then helped organize massive statehouse protests and gather 900,000 signatures for the recall vote that again pits the governor against 2010 Democratic opponent Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Republicans argue a win will largely reaffirm among voters nationwide that elected officials must force states to live within their means and that taxing residents or businesses will further slow the floundering U.S. economy.

Moreover, they say a win for Walker would result in GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney becoming the first Republican candidate to carry Wisconsin since Ronald Reagan in 1984. A loss for Walker will lead others to say the presumptive Republican nominee should give up on the key swing state.

Democrats are downplaying whether this is a harbinger of the November election between President Obama and Romney because they appear to be losing, said a national Democratic strategist.

Walker holds a 7 percentage point lead over Barrett -- 52 percent to 45 percent -- in voter enthusiasm among likely Wisconsin voters, according to the most recent poll by the Marquette University Law school.  

However, Democrats say their voters will also be out in full force.

“I think they’re coming,” said David Heller of the national Democratic strategy firm Main Street Communications. “Interest in the race is high on both sides because the stakes are high.”

Heller thinks the race would me much closer had former Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold decided to run instead of Barrett, whom he says has failed to energize the party and who is “not really a true progressive.”

 “If Democrats had put up somebody who unified the party, we’d have a much clearer read on Walker,” Heller said. “I don’t think you’re likely to get a read on Obama vs. Romney off Walker vs. Barrett.”

He also said the importance of Wisconsin in the presidential race has at least one more chapter before November, whether Romney picks Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, which could improve the GOP’s chance of winning the state.

Both parties say voters remain enthusiastic and a strong turnout Tuesday is expected, despite roughly 18 months of road signs and nearly continuous  TV ads and campaign telephone calls.

“Republicans would crawl over glass to vote for Scott Walker,” Wisconsin Republican Party spokesman Ben Sparks said Monday.

Sparks acknowledges that voters have indeed participated in seven elections over the past 14 months but insists there is no sign of vote fatigue.

“Interest has never been higher,” he said.

Sparks say the state GOP party has 26 operations field offices across the state that have cranked out 3.5 million phone calls -- part of the largest Republican political operation in state history.