American conservatives are crowing after voters in Wisconsin decisively rejected an attempt to recall Republican governor Scott Walker. Progressive campaigners had tried to have Walker removed from office after he stripped most of the state's public employees of collective bargaining rights and rammed through sharp cutbacks in social spending.
Both labour and big-money business interests turned the recall into a proxy battle for the wider fight over government spending and regulation. Accordingly, money and volunteers poured into Wisconsin from around the country.
Conservatives claimed last night's result as a vote of confidence in their smaller-government approach. But progressives say the outcome merely reflects the disastrous impact of the 2010 Citizens United decision, in which the US Supreme Court struck down most limits on campaign spending by corporations. The fight, they point out, was hardly fair: Walker’s supporters out-spent his opponents 7-to-1, including multi-million-dollar contributions from notorious corporate carpetbaggers Charles and David Koch.
What does all this mean for President Obama's re-election chances? Some analysts say Walker’s victory makes the president vulnerable in this traditionally Democratic state, but exit polls showed Obama handily beating Republican challenger Mitt Romney.