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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Bed and Breakfasts vs. the Rest of Wisconsin

by folkbum

(Update: This was written before the Waukesha County Miracle Cure came to light, but I'm out all night (Thursday) and won't be able to re-run the numbers until later. Remember, though, this is not a post about Kloppenburg's winning or losing, but rather about the specious and ridiculous drivel Christian Schneider's been reduced to, a point that stands even more starkly now.)

Christian Schneider's had quite the career arc. The former Wisconsin blogger of the year has fallen from the pseudonymity of Dennis York to the questionable aegis of WPRI to, now, K-Lo's House of Crazy*. Ironically, he was most credible when he was lying about his name.

His entry today at The Corner picks up from where Gov. Scott Walker left a talking point, that the state supreme court election this week between JoAnne Kloppenburg and incumbent David Prosser was a simple case of, to quote Schneider's title, Madison versus the rest of Wisconsin. The result--an unknown attorney unseating a sitting justice, getting more votes than the last three court-election winners combined--was a quirk of Dane County's government-employee base throwing the election.

And, indeed, if you selectively remove Dane from the results, Prosser wins:
Madison’s caste of government employees recognized that in order to keep their generous pay and benefits coming, they had to turn out en masse to oppose Prosser, who they viewed as a stand-in for Walker. This self-interested intensity distorted Madison’s statewide influence--while Dane County is home to only 8.7 percent of the state’s population, the county’s voters made up 12.7 percent of the electorate in the Supreme Court race. [. . .]

Yet without the electoral bloodbath in Dane County, Prosser would have won Wisconsin by a comfortable 53.3 percent to 46.7 percent margin. The non-Dane County Prosser vote actually exceeds the 52.3 percent Walker received statewide in November. It wasn’t the state’s voters rejecting Walker’s agenda--it was Dane County’s government workers attempting to keep their paychecks intact.[**]
But that's what the professionals call cherry-picking, looking for data that fit your preconceived notions to justify them, rather than letting the data inform your conclusions.

For one thing, look at this, and tell me this is a Madison v. Wisconsin issue:

Here's one that shades in by the size of the winning margin:

For another thing, earlier today the estimable Tom Foley, Esq.***, demolishes the argument that the results were some kind of Dane-only reaction. Seriously, read that whole post. Any Republican or conservative who seeks comfort in a ridiculous spin such as Schneider's should, in fact, be deeply concerned about Republican overreach and what it's done to public opinion in this state.

For a third thing, Scheider makes it sound like Dane was the most lopsided county, or had a lopsided influence in this election relative to previous ones. Neither of those things is true. In 2010, Dane represented 11% of the state vote (to its 9% of residents), not much different from this week's total. Washington County's spread was three points wider Dane's, making it by far the most lopsided county. Two other deep-red counties, Waukesha and Ozaukee--I like to call those three the Troika--were almost as deeply red as Dane was blue. Take out Waukesha, and you get numbers close to what you get by swapping out Dane, but in reverse: Kloppenburg wins with 52%. Take out the Troika together (their vote total was almost identical to Dane's) and Kloppenburg jumps to 53.3% of the vote--the exact percentage for Prosser minus Dane. You could as easily make the argument that's the inverse of Schneider's, that the election this week was a case of the Tax-Protesting Teahadists versus the rest of Wisconsin, and you'd be just as accurate.

And just as dumb.

For kicks, you can look at the county-by-county stats here, and make up your own game of "[Blank] vs. the rest of Wisconsin."**** And for further kicks, write it up and pitch it for publication at K-Lo's House of Crazy yourself.

* HT JC @ BJ.

** Schneider, like so many of his fellow travelers, deliberately obscures the issue, lying to his national audience (and, likely, himself, so he sleeps better at night). As I have written before, and has been documented repeatedly, unions were willing to make concessions, up to or even beyond what Walker demanded, when it came to salary and benefits. The hang-up came from the elimination of bargaining over everything else, including workplace conditions, as well as the dramatic steps to prohibit further unionization of public employees and ultimately de-certify the unions that exist. This is, as the Republican leadership in the state has made clear, about concentrating power and decimating political enemies, not paychecks.

*** Foley's footnote habit, too, is worth your appreciation.

**** Hence the title of this post. Without Door County, Kloppenburg quintuples her winning margin, so the election was clearly a case of Bed and Breakfasts vs. etc.

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