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What Could Romney Learn from Walker?

While Scott Walker's win over Tom Barrett in Wisconsin is probably not a good predictor of whether Mitt Romney can win the state in November, Dan Balz of the Washington Post wrote a column about what Romney can learn from Walker's victory. First, it is all about money. Walker outspent his opponent 7 to 1. Romney and his allied superPACs are not going to be able to outspend President Obama by that ratio, but the more they can raise and spend, the better.

Second, hard-right positions are not necessarily fatal. With Romney, one gets the feeling that not only is he not sure of what he believes, but he is also not sure of what image he wants to project. Does he want to appear as a "severe conservative"? Does he want to appear as a moderate who was forced by the base into right-wing positions he doesn't believe in? Who knows? Walker had no such problems.

Third is conviction. Walker took positions he knew were unpopular in some quarters but never wavered. To many voters, a backbone is considered a useful body part in a politician.

On the other hand, you can't compare a recall race in one state to a national presidential election only so far. Exit polls in Wisconsin show that 60% of the voters there feel that a recall election is appropriate only when the official being recalled has been accused of corruption or malfeasance. If most of the voters think that recalling an honest governor whose policies they don't happen to like is a bad idea in principle, then there is probably no lesson here for Romney.

Democrats Start the Blame Game over Wisconsin Loss

Generally when a party loses a high-profile election, the loss is followed by a round of public recriminations, with various factions blaming other ones for the defeat. Sure enough, the Democrats have started the process already. Labor leaders are blaming national Democrats (and by implication President Obama) for not helping them at all. In response, the DNC said that getting involved in state recalls is pretty far from its core business of winning national elections and besides, it did provide some resources. What probably bothers many in the labor movement is that Obama's involvement in the entire process consisted of a single tweet saying he supported Barrett. No doubt Obama felt that Barrett was going to lose and didn't want to turn the recall election into a referendum on himself. In that respect, he made the right decision. It will be hard to spin Barrett's defeat into a defeat for Obama since he never went to the state, didn't make any ads for Barrett, and kept as much distance from the whole recall event as he could.

Might Romney Choose Walker as Veep?

Given that Romney has yet to convince conservatives that he is one of them, he could probably eliminate all doubts in an instant by choosing Scott Walker, the right's new hero, as his running mate. Speculation about that possibility is already rampant. However, insiders think that the possibility is unlikely for two reasons. First, only two years ago Walker was a County Executive, not a good choice for a presidential candidate who wants to claim that experience is important. Second, and perhaps more important, is that Walker--especially now--is an extremely divisive politician and would probably overshadow Romney himself. If there is any lesson from 2008, it is don't pick a lightning rod as running mate as he or she will remove the focus from the candidate himself.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Connecticut 50% 38%   May 29 Jun 03 Quinnipiac U.
Pennsylvania 48% 36%   May 29 Jun 04 Franklin+Marshall Coll.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Virginia Tim Kaine 44% George Allen 43%     May 30 Jun 04 Quinnipiac U.