I'm on my way to Netroots Nation for the weekend, and my biggest concern right now is that last night's victory for Scott Walker in the recall election is going to put a damper on everyone's weekend. Democrats are well known for their fractious tendencies, and seem to enjoy engaging in recriminations and venting their anger. I hope people will direct their anger in the right direction--toward the sources of huge amounts of cash in Walker's favor. All the outside money spent to support Walker (the pro-Walker forces supposedly had about a 7 or 8 to 1 funding advantage) is certainly worrisome.
But I'd like to think that money is not as important as everyone thinks it is, that for the most part people pay about as much attention to campaign commercials as they pay to say, beer commercials, which is not much. And yesterday's polling data in Wisconsin is still looking pretty favorable for Democrats this November. Supposedly a substantial number of Walker voters will also support the president. That seems hard to understand for a lot of ideologically-minded folks, but might largely reflect a feeling on the part of a lot of Wisconsin voters that the recall was unjustified.
Perhaps that also signals that many voters think that things in general aren't going so badly that we need to shake up the system again. When things are going ok, and the people in charge seem generally competent, incumbents tend to win. If that's the general feeling in November, then the president is still in good shape.
I remember the election of 1988 (Bush I v. Dukakis) in which Bush represented the status quo (as Reagan's vice-president, he was practically the incumbent), while Dukakis represented change. Dukakis looked like a strong contender for a while, and there seemed to be a desire among a lot of the electorate, for change. But that campaign season the number one hit on the radio for quite a while was Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy." I remember having a realization at some point, after hearing that song played over and over again wherever you went, that Bush was going to win. With everyone going around singing "Don't Worry, Be Happy," we weren't nearly ready to shake up the system.
So to anyone worried about the Wisconsin results last night, I would suggest, don't worry, be happy.