Friday, February 25, 2011


As the fight to preserve the rights of workers plays out in Wisconsin, it is important to keep a couple of FACTS in mind.  The first is that before Wisconsin's budget went bust, the GOP controlled senate and house passed, and Governor Walker signed, $117 million in corporate tax breaks into law. The deficit in Wisconsin is $137 million, and amount only $20 million more than the tax breaks. A piece of "old" news but a very important piece to keep at the forefront when Mr. Walker talks about the dire straights that make his draconian proposals and actions warranted.

The second fact comes from a look at the results of the 2010 general election that put these folks into office. Governor Walker is fond of saying that he is not going to let a "few thousand" (there were at least 70,000 at last Saturday's rally) to drown out the voice of 6,000,000 ( actually 5,654,774 according to the census bureau) in Wisconsin who spoke in the last election.  Before getting to the actual numbers, note how he under represents the number of those opposing his actions, and over states the population in Wisconsin.

The overstatement of the population is particularly relevant because the total votes garnered by Mr. Walker in 2010, according to the official elections website of Wisconsin (, was 1,128,941. While this was 52.25% of the 2,160,832 votes cast in the contest for governor, it represents only 32.32% of the 3,493,306 total registered voters in Wisconsin.  To carry the analysis further the votes he got represents exactly 19.964% of the total population of Wisconsin. This meager representation of the "electorate" must be the reason he inflated the population by 345,226 people or a number equal to 30.57% of the total vote he received.

Now elections do matter, he did win, but claiming a resounding mandate based on getting the vote of less than a third of registered voters and a bit less than 20% of the entire population is the kind of hubris and slight of hand that these new Republicans are fond of using to sell their patent medicine policies. To be fair the turnout of 61%+ was a record for mid-term elections in Wisconsin, but I can't help but wonder what the outcome would have been had just another 10% showed up at the polls last November.

How many of those were disillusioned President Obama supporters who really did expect miracles?  How many were young people who defied the conventional wisdom that said they were strong enough to help candidate Obama get the nomination but would not turn out to vote in '08, and then stayed true to conventional wisdom and sat out the mid-term elections? Well as the saying goes, the chickens are coming home to roost, and as any farmer knows, chicken manure is a great fertilizer for any crop, even one that grows like crazy but does not produce any fruit.

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