Tuesday night saw a double whammy rejection of Obamanomics – once by the voters and once by former President Bill Clinton. Given a choice,the people of Wisconsin took Republican fiscalism over Democratic populism in a recall vote that let Tea Party favourite Scott Walker keep his state’s governorship. Incredibly, Bill Clinton – the man the White House sent to represent the President during the election – compounded the result by admitting that the country was in a recession and by urging Congress to extend the Bush tax cuts. That makes him the most senior liberal in the nation to cast doubt on Obama’s economic strategy. The people of Wisconsin are trending towards Romneynomics in 2012. So too, it would seem, is Hillary Clinton's husband.
Wisconsin was a referendum on Walker’s tough handling of the state’s finances; by extension it was also a referendum on the Democratic alternative, as embodied by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Early exit polls showed a massively increased turnout on 2010, which suggests that an energised but divided electorate came down on the side of the Tea Party. So the final result wasn't a landslide. But when you factor in the huge amount of Leftwing fervour pouring into the state, the usual rumours of Democratic fraud (turnout in one district was projected to be 119 percent) and the fact that this isn’t a solid Republican state like Alabama, and the tally starts to look healthy. Crucially, the administration’s class war language failed to mobilise a majority in a state that went strongly for Obama in 2008.
The President did his best to stay away from this contest. His only recent comment was a Tweet that read "It's Election Day in Wisconsin tomorrow, and I'm standing by Tom Barrett." (Although, not physically, of course.) His absence was in stark contrast to the enormous effort he’s been putting into fundraising for his own election: the Prez spent Monday nightscooping big money in New York with a bevy of Broadway stars.
So campaigning in Wisconsin was left to Bill Clinton, who is fast becoming a fixture of the 2012 campaign. Apparently paid appearances at the opening of an envelope are down this year.