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Decision day in Wisconsin

Scott Walker

Voters in Wisconsin head to the polls today to decide the fate of Gov. Scott Walker.  Needless to say, both sides are already claiming their respective victories.  Voter turnout will be key and the implications on national politics could be significant.

As Red State's Erick Erickson notes, this election will also shed light on campaign strategy heading into November:

While 2008 was proclaimed the year of technology in politics, it really wasn’t. Even the Obama campaign did not use technology as much as they would have you believe. 2012 is different. Both teams are using it and the GOP is playing catch up.

After the 2010 election cycle, GOP donors who had been pessimistic about 2012 started funding elaborate technological improvements in Republican get out the vote efforts (GOTV). The beauty of the Wisconsin recall is that the Democrats have handed the GOP a live test to make sure its technology adapted GOTV works. Without this recall, the GOP would be live testing its new tech on election day in November. That would not give them time to work out the bugs.

Now, in Wisconsin, an army of grassroots activists is going door to door testing systems to get Republican voters out to the polls. If Scott Walker wins handily, it will be a sure signal that the technology worked as intended. If he loses, the GOP will have to work overtime to fix its ground game in November.

With liberals busing in help from out of state and record amounts of money pouring in for television and radio ads, Democrats are bracing themselves for a tight election and are already planning to demand a recount. But as Byron York writes, there's no real happy ending to this ugly process:

Despite much talk about the polls “tightening” in the past few days, Walker has held a consistent, if narrow, lead over Democratic challenger Tom Barrett. Perhaps even more discouraging for organized labor are polls showing that voters not only support Walker — they support the heart of Walker’s reforms.

Requiring unionized public employees to pay more for their pensions and health coverage? Seventy-five percent public support, according to a new Marquette Law School poll. Limiting collective bargaining for most public employees? Fifty-five percent support. And when the Marquette pollsters asked whether Wisconsin was better off or worse off as a result of Walker’s changes, voters said better off, 54 percent to 42 percent.

So it’s no wonder the anti-Walker movement, an effort that started with elected lawmakers literally fleeing the state rather than do their jobs, is ending with one last show of ugliness and rancor. Walker knew making fundamental changes would be hard. He probably didn’t think it would be this hard. But if the polls are correct, he is about to enjoy a final vindication.

Stay tuned to the blog -- I'll have continuing updates on the recall election throughout the day...

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