Unprecedented Recall Election Could Swing Control Of Senate

Democrats and Republicans made a final push across Wisconsin on Monday in advance of Tuesday’s recall elections that have shattered spending records, served as a referendum on Gov. Scott Walker’s Republican revolution and previewed the expected presidential fight in 2012.

The unprecedented election Tuesday targeting six Republicans could swing majority control of the state Senate to the Democrats, giving them the power to block the GOP agenda.

Two incumbent Democrats face recalls of their own next week.

Those elections will be moot if Democrats can win five or six races on Tuesday, a possibility Republicans fear could happen given a fired-up Democratic base and millions of dollars in support from national unions and other groups.

With all the attention on the recall elections, voters have been asking questions about where or whether they are supposed to vote, and what the outcome scenarios are.

Ads have been deluging the TV airwaves for weeks trying to swing voters one way or the other, but just because people have seen ads doesn’t mean they get to cast a recall vote, WISC-TV reported.

“It’s very confusing to voters because the districts holding recall elections are scattered around the state,” said Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In the Madison-area media market, the only recall election being held is in the 14th Senate district. Incumbent Republican Sen. Luther Olsen is facing Democratic Rep. Fred Clark.

Statewide, there are eight total recall election races in districts 2, 8, 10, 14, 18 and 32 being held on Tuesday, affecting about 1.3 million voters.

But the outcome of these elections could affect the entire state if Democrats flip three seats and take control of the Wisconsin Senate. Two Democrats are also up for recall the following Tuesday in Districts 12 and 22.

“Never has so much money been spent to influence so few voters,” said Franklin. “We’ve already broken all the records for spending but we really have races in only eight state Senate districts right now, so the amount of money is tremendous.”

So will that money get voters to turn out as the candidates are hoping it will? And will both parties manage to get out their base?

“I think the best guess is we will see turnout on par with the Supreme Court race, which itself set records,” said Franklin. “Whether it goes beyond that to approach turnout in last year’s governor’s race remains to be seen.”

Turnout numbers in some areas of the state based on early voting numbers indicate turnout as high as the November governor’s race, which was about 50 percent. What happens Tuesday could change things for next week. If the Democrats gain three seats, that will put pressure on Republicans to try to flip one of two Democrats who are up for recall next Tuesday.

There is an uncontested special election race in Madison on Tuesday for the 48th Assembly District, but no voters in Madison would vote in the recall races.

In the past 100 years, only 13 state lawmakers nationwide have been recalled from office in 20 elections.