The Last Man Standing
Walker won because his reform program is popular, and because it is working. The governor’s personal approval numbers in Wisconsin hover around 50 percent — not bad for a man whom most Wisconsinites have seen Photoshopped into a Hitler mustache and Nazi regalia at least once in the last year. But more telling is the popularity of Walker’s reforms. According to one recent Reason-Rupe poll, 72 percent of Wisconsinites favor the requirement that public-sector workers increase their pension contributions to 6 percent of their salaries. And 71 percent favor making government employees pay 12 percent instead of 6 percent of their health-care premiums.
Such commonsense measures, which put public-sector employees on a more even footing with the taxpayers who pay their salaries, have already led to over $1 billion in savings across the state, saving public-sector workers from layoffs in the bargain. The reforms’ success has also neutralized them as campaign issues for Walker’s opponents, who were forced to turn away from the very raison d’être of the recall and emphasize instead a grab-bag of non-issues (Walker’s record on women’s rights?) and non-controversies (vague and discredited whispers about a pending Walker indictment and a secret college love child?) in the final weeks of the race.
Walker won because he represented the taxpayer, while his opponent represented the groups whose livelihoods depend on bilking the taxpayer. Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett served as less of an alternative than a vessel for Big Labor’s unmoored wrath. Barrett raised a mere $4 million on his own, while outside PACs did the heavy lifting — We Are Wisconsin raised more than $5.5 million in the last month alone, including seven-figure donations from AFSCME and the AFL-CIO, six-figure donations from the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, and a mere $720 from its three (that’s three) individual donors. The Left will complain that Walker outspent Barrett handily, but this is no vice considering Walker also handily outraised Barrett in individual donations, about three-quarters of which were for less than $50. It was Walker’s strength, after all, that convinced national Democrats to stop spending on a race they didn’t think they could win.