Scott Walker's recall victory: Can Mitt Romney win in Wisconsin, too?

The Badger State hasn't voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984, but Gov. Walker's recall triumph may have altered the playing field

Mitt Romney campaigns for Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Republican Gov. Scott Walker handily survived a Wisconsin recall vote, weathering a bitter battle that had erupted over his ultimately successful 2011 push to strip public-sector unions of their collective bargaining rights in a bid to repair the state budget. Walker's victory was a huge setback for the state's labor unions and progressives, and a shot in the arm for small-government activists. The race spilled over into the presidential election as well, with many seeing it as a microcosm of an ideological war over government spending that's playing out on a national level. President Obama easily won Wisconsin in 2008, and holding the state is a crucial part of his re-election strategy. No Republican presidential candidate has taken the state since Ronald Reagan in 1984 — but does Walker's victory mean Wisconsin could go red in November?

No. The recall was not about Obama: Exit polls show that Tuesday's voters in Wisconsin "would go decisively for Obama," says Harold Meyerson at The Washington Post. In fact, 18 percent of Obama backers voted for Walker, suggesting that even "some Obama supporters thought that recall was too extreme a remedy or favored Walker's attack on public-sector unions." Obama also beat Mitt Romney by an 11-point margin when voters were asked "which candidate would help the middle class more," an indication that the multimillionaire Romney will struggle to connect with the "white working class of the once-industrial Midwest."

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