As Walter Russell Mead writes, the New York Times is in the midst of a freakout and a meltdown over the prospect of a Scott Walker victory in Wisconsin tomorrow. Like Mead, I plan on waiting until the votes are in; I am in no mood to presume anything, and Walker forces should be aware of the fact that turnout will be a very big deal in this race. But also like Mead, I think it is clear which way the winds are blowing in Wisconsin, and that things do not bode well for Democrats. Mead is quite right to point out that a Walker victory will mean closer scrutiny for public sector unions nationwide. Anyone doubt that this helps to drive the freakout of organizations like the Times and other port side people and institutions?
Sensing–quite properly–his advantage, Governor Walker is twisting the knife when it comes to President Obama’s non-presence in the state. No one should be surprised that the president chose to stay away; why be seen in close proximity with the almost-certain loser of an issue that the recall effort has turned out to be? But while the president’s absence ought to be expected, it nevertheless speaks volumes. The rest of Team Obama would do well to follow the president’s example and absent themselves from the debate regarding Wisconsin, but instead, as Jim Geraghty points out, Team Obama now seems to believe that Wisconsin is a toss-up. Assuming that really is what the Obama campaign believes, and not some kind of bluff, they will have to invest more resources into shoring up their position in Wisconsin–resources that could be expended elsewhere. The president may still win Wisconsin and the election, but it will be a lot harder for him to do it. And if he loses Wisconsin, there goes the election.
As of this writing, by the way, the chances of Barack Obama being re-elected have dropped to a shade under 54%. Not so long ago, Intrade overwhelmingly favored the president’s re-election. If Obamaphiles aren’t scared by this, then that will suit Romneyphiles just fine.