So I'll sprinkle some of those songs into this post as I look at the New York Times' exit poll and see what it says about why Walker won, again.
First off, let's talk about exit polls, period. Anyone remember 2004? And how in 2004 polls showed Kerry leading before and during the election? As I watched early returns on Tuesday, I noted that people on Twitter were relying on exit polling to keep their spirits up. "Exit polls show it's close!" they said, forgetting 2004, too.
Here's the thing about polling: people lie.
In 2004, my own theory is that polls showed Kerry so close (or winning) before the election and in exit polling because people were ashamed to admit they were voting for Bush. (I sure would've been.) And in 2012, in Recall Wisconsin, I think a little bit of that was at work. CNN reported that the exit polls were showing the election was tied. SPOILER ALERT!: It wasn't.
How could that be? Well, not only do people lie, but exit polling isn't random. Exit polling means you sit at one location or several locations -- CNN didn't say how they took the poll -- and ask whoever walks by. So you're getting a snapshot of voters at some locations, not a truly random look at people.
That, combined with members of the public who wanted to vote for Walker but maybe didn't want to announce that in front of a crowd or to a reporter -- Walker remains a deeply unpopular governor with the majority of Wisconsinites -- only 49% approved of his performance in a recent (pre-recall vote) poll -- and so people may have refused to answer the question or simply said "Barrett" and moved on.
So I don't tend to trust polls, and especially not in-person "I'm talking to you live" polls, on issues of who people voted for.
But those same exit polls can tell you something about who voted, leaving aside who they voted for -- and by looking at who voted, we can see either who to blame, or who to target with get-out-the-vote effort.
Let's start with the most basic. Men and women made up each 50% of the vote. Women, though, are 50.4% of the population in Wisconsin, so a smaller percentage of women than men voted. Remember the "War On Women"? Apparently that's not enough to get women to outnumber men at the polls. If directly targeting your gender-specific rights doesn't get you to vote, I'm not sure what will. (Over 40% of women reported voting for Walker; people who deliberately vote against their own freedoms have their own special problems.)
Blacks, too, were underrepresented: 5% of voters were black; 6.3% of Wisconsinites are black, so the Democrats weren't able to get two strong bases to vote in numbers proportionate to their percentage of society.
How 'bout those young people? While the recall took place after school ended, did anyone stop to think about getting them to vote absentee? Voters aged 18-29 made up 16% of the total at the polls on Recall Day. That's lower than in 2008 (22%) and 2004 (20%). So it's not the "Obama Effect" -- John Kerry was more successful in getting 18-29 year olds to the polls than Tom Barrett. (It may be that Barrett, a lackluster candidate whose entire platform this time was "Where's that email, Scott Walker?" bears most of the blame, except that then the blame goes to the Democrats, who seem to have only four people in the entire state that they'll consider for public office. And of those four, one is actually a frozen corpse thawed only to vote in the Senate, and the other doesn't want to hold public office anymore.)
Moving on to education, 60% of the voters didn't have a college degree on Recall Day. Only about 26% of Wisconsinites have a college degree, per the last census -- so 74% of voters shouldn't have a college degree. Typically speaking, people with no college vote report voting at a rate lower than 60%. So this was higher-than-average turnout among people with less education. This chart suggests that people with less education -- contrary to popular belief -- tend to favor Democrats.
The median household income in Wisconsin is $51,000 as of the last census -- so 1/2 of all Wisconsinites make less than $51,000 per year. In the Recall Voting, 38% of the voters reported income of under $50,000 -- a 12% gap. Meanwhile, a whopping 20% of recall voters claimed to earn over $100,000 per year. I wasn't able to find Wisconsin-specific stats, but on average, only 16% of households make over $100,000 per year, nationwide. That means high-income earners were over-represented at the Recall Polls.
When I talk about those numbers, remember, if 50% of Wisconsinites are "Category X," then one would expect that all other things being equal, 50% of voters would be Category X. If the percentages are different, something happened to keep them home or make more people of Category Y go vote, changing the percentages. So in this case, the poor stayed home and the rich went to vote. Any surprise that the result the rich wanted was the one that carried the day? This isn't money in politics, this is simply going to vote.
You can't blame the unions -- 33% of voters at the polls were union members or had a union member in their household, while only 15% of Wisconsinites actually belong to unions. So they voted, maybe indicating that a lot of people thought this race was about collective bargaining?
And maybe that's it in the end: What was the Recall about? Tom Barrett made it about Scott Walker not releasing emails. The protests that started it made it about collective bargaining. The petition circulators who braved the cold made it about...
There were lots and lots of reasons to not vote for Walker in 2010. There were lots of reasons to recall him in 2012.
Think about what reasons you were given -- or heard others given -- to vote against Walker and/or for Barrett.
People who voted for Walker had lots of reasons to vote for him: all of his policies over the last 16 months, which they supported.
People who voted against Walker had one big reason given -- Act 10 and collective bargaining, and those people DID get out and vote. But they only make up about 15% of the state.
As for the rest, Tom Barrett and the Democratic Party did a horrible job of telling people why they should vote against Walker and for them. The Democrats at the outset tried to subvert the Recall, using it to raise money instead of to promote their views. Then, the unions endorsed Falk right out of the gates, suppressing anyone else who might have wanted to enter the recall and possibly bring some new, exciting life to the party. (Democrats: Nobody wants to see Falk in a statewide position, except Falk and Democratic insiders.) That left only Barrett as the statewide candidate, and if there's one thing that the Democrats should have learned in 2010, it's that Barrett can't outshine Walker.
And so we were left with a recall that had no reason for existing, in 85% of the population's mind: The plentiful reasons the Walker administration has given voters in 16 months for recalling him were left on the sidelines while we heard about an email or emails, but didn't hear about human waste dumped near wells, didn't hear about cancellation of medical insurance, didn't hear about (other than from me) the 100-hours-per-month on average that Scott Walker spends on "personal time", didn't hear about the returning of federal money or the reduction in educational values, didn't hear about the "war on women," and didn't, ultimately, get a recall.
I went to vote, because I understood the issues. The Democrats apparently believed that everyone in the world is a consumer lawyer with an avid interest in politics, and so they didn't bother trying in any way to excite or educate people into voting their way.
Or they just didn't care enough, and when the politicians don't care, why should the voters?