The Reckoning

Wisconsin’s Sound and Fury: Signifying Nothing

campaign buttons

All for naught? 

Photograph by Mark Hirsch/Getty Images

Looking for deeper political meaning in the Wisconsin recall election in the midst of severe global economic uncertainty invites serious miscalculation. Both sides invariably claim to see something in this vote - a rebuke to unions, a useful example of GOP extremism - that they can carry into the general election.

In fact, the Wisconsin vote was a blip that, in spite of millions spent by pro- and anti-recall forces, failed to register significantly in statewide Obama-Romney preference polls, with Obama retaining a steady, if surmoutable lead. A far more important factor at play is in the intersection of public opinion and recession. For in every recession since the end of World War II, public perceptions of labor unions take a dive, only to recover as the economy mends.

More on this in my Globalpost column