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May 30, 2012

Caution & Optimism on Wisconsin, and a Thank You

Now, after all the public polling has consistently shown Walker up, there is this tiny voice in the back of my head saying, "they could be wrong."

It has been there the whole time, especially after weeks of positive data for Walker. Hell, the Democrats took THIS long to push out a tied poll that oversampled Madison and Milwaukee. They waited until Wednesday before. Which I had predicted would happen in previous threads.

But no matter. Incorporating all the Democratic push polls on a trend line, Pollster finds the race a close one, with Walker up less than a point. When these push polls are removed, as Nate Silver of Five Thirty Eight thinks they should (and he's not exactly sympathetic to Walker), Walker's lead explodes.

So what if they are actually somewhat right?

There are a few things that can happen that can cost Walker the race at this point. I'll refute most of them, but the "sleepless nights" biggie is number 4:

1) ALL the data available is wrong.
Every single professional pollster is totally off the mark and Barrett wins this hands down. Very, very, very unlikely, as the on-the-ground evidence of enthusiasm doesn't back this up. Through Tuesday, only 21,600 votes were cast early in Madison and Milwaukee. 133,000 asbsentees (including these early votes) were issued through yesterday. The Republican party sent out 500,000 forms for absentees for voters to help counter any early ground ops by the Democrats and to avoid discouragement of voters by long lines. If we were looking at 50, 60, 70,000 vote totals out of the largest areas after over a solid week and a half of early voting, I would be saying the numbers are wrong, but I just don't see it. Republicans are showing up for early voting. Milwaukee and Dane have a total population 25 times larger than Brookfield, Wisconsin (in Waukesha), but Brookfield has already issued 3500 absentees and received 2550 back. There is solid logic in thinking a lot of these early votes/absentees being reported are pro-Walker.

2) The Republican GOTV does not materialize in the Milwaukee burbs, Green Bay, and the western upper third of the state. Again, hardly likely. These areas have the largest victory offices for Walker, have had tremendous requests for absentee ballots, and may match or beat Dane County turnout levels (see the Brookfield statistics above).

3) Analysis of margin victories per region are way off.
This could be likely, especially if there is a shockingly enormous turnout in the largest Democratic regions NOT matched by the rest of the state, but again from the numbers we actually have, that is not materializing. To win the state, Barrett needs to build upon his 160,000 vote margin gained from Dane and Milwaukee in 2010 by about another 65,000 and maintain his 2010 levels in the rest of the state. The polling by Marquette finds him drowning in the enormous Milwaukee Metro area and getting pulverized everywhere west and northward outside of Madison. Fraud accusations aside, had Bush won the same counties and margins Walker did, or even Prosser, in much of Northern and Western Wisconsin, he would have beaten Gore and Kerry. On the ground volunteer efforts may help Barrett in SW/W Wisconsin to keep "BlueWis" solid, but even in the primary, several of these Kerry/Gore/Obama counties went more for Walker than all the Democrats combined.

Barrett has a very, very narrow path that involves explosive turnout OUTSIDE of his base cities and depressed Republican turnout. The recent push polls showing a closer race may backfire on Democratic plans to psyche out Republicans- by convincing them that the race is actually closer, you give the right an even stronger reason to turn out and save their guy.

4. Overconfidence amongst the Republicans.
More and more analysts are calling the race for Walker. Intrade has him sky high. I don't put the Governor's odds anywhere near the 94% level that trading site is giving him, but he has a solid shot, somewhere in the high 70s, of beating this thing. Overconfidence worries me, so always go into an election thinking your candidate is losing. If the line is long and you need to get to work, tell your boss you came down with ebola and you'll be running late. Take nothing for granted here.
Above anything else, my love of data and numbers makes me want to be right, even if it pains me. I was prepared for some polls showing tightening today (not the silly Dem poll, but the serious Marquette Law), because of the noise the left keeps saying about "the right has no idea its totally the opposite!". Well, Marquette confirmed what I already sensed- the race is in the mid-single digits for Walker and the left is on red alert to stop that. The question is, are we on red alert to keep him there?

I get a lot of you are pissed that we keep talking about Wisconsin. Every day, another poll, or news article, or map. We are almost through on this. After recall night coverage Tuesday, I will be taking a short hiatus from co-blogging here. I'll be dropping by to update the daily tracker, maybe shoot Ace an email, but constantly watching all the info trickling in wears you down, and I need to be ready to help out when the general election heats up. My fiancee has been incredibly supportive, loading me with coffee to stay awake to get the jump on the latest bit down the pipe. I want to thank all of you in Wisconsin and elsewhere for posting various reports, tweeting over polling and commentary, and emailing me some good leads on this race. I also want to thank Ace publicly for giving me the opportunity to share all of this data ripping through my brain.

After weeks of effort, the guest bloggers, morons, moronettes, and lurkers who are collectively working on bringing full coverage Tuesday night will, with a little luck, cap off what I hope has been a helpful and accurate resource for you. We won't spin the results and will make the call, even if its the one we loathe the most. I thank all of you for taking the news shared here productively, and hopefully the fruit of the efforts of millions involved in this fight will be victory for Walker in six short days. Thanks for following along, and remember: this fight is far from over. Do your part.

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posted by CAC at 05:48 PM

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