5 Lessons for Team Obama From Walker's Wisconsin Recall Victory

The death of unions, the rise of 'super PACs,' and why Wisconsin is turning from blue to red.

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Democrats took comfort in exit polls showing Obama up 7 points over Republican challenger Mitt Romney. (As the New York Times's Nate Silver points out, over the last 40 years, presidents have run more strongly in states with governors of the opposite party.) And 18 percent of those who plan to vote for Obama voted for Walker, so there may be salience to the argument that the same rising economic fortunes that helped boost Walker (the state's unemployment rate is 6.7 percent) could help Obama.

Nevertheless, Democrats must worry about the continuing GOP dominance among non-college whites. Walker won 61 percent of white voters without a college education on Tuesday, including 67 percent of non-college white men. As National Journal's Ron Brownstein noted, Obama's continued weakness with this group means he must clean up in states where education levels and racial diversity are rising, like Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

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Can't fight the future. It's fashionable to predict that Texas, with its rising Hispanic population, will move into the Democrats' column within a few presidential cycles. But as aptly named Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics notes, the obverse could push states like Wisconsin the other way. "As the Democrats increasingly become a party of minority voters … that is likely to alienate white voters, especially downscale white voters," E-mails Trende, author of The Lost Majority. "Since the upper Midwest is overwhelmingly white, we would expect to see it trend toward Republicans even as the Mountain West slips away from them."

Obama may hold Wisconsin, but he could well be one of the last Democrats to do so. Don't be surprised when it turns red in 2016 or 2020—perhaps under a GOP ticket led by newly minted Republican rock star Scott Walker.

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