• WisPolitics


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

 6:02 PM 

Post-Primary Political Stock Report

--A collection of insider opinion--
(Feb. 19-20, 2008)

Rising

Barack Obama: The Dem presidential candidate sweeps to an overwhelming 17-point victory over Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's primary and grabs what could be a 14-delegate edge. Obama won all but 10 counties and rolled up huge margins in Dane and Milwaukee counties, eroding Clinton's support with women and blue-collar households in the process, according to unofficial returns. Obama's quick targeting of blue-collar Dems, his early TV advertising, his higher ad spending and Clinton's limited personal campaigning in Wisconsin (a snow day didn't help) contributed to the success, analysts say. He wins 12 more delegates than Clinton based on Tuesday's returns and picks up the support of super delegate Ron Kind, the congressman from La Crosse who promised to back the candidate who won his western Wisconsin district. Fellow super delegate Steve Kagen of Appleton made a similar pledge last week. Obama won the 8th CD as well, but Kagen was holding off as of Wednesday. If he follows through, that will give Obama a 14-delegate edge in Wisconsin.

John McCain: The Arizona senator uses a brief Wisconsin campaign to strengthen his grip on the Republican prez nomination and recruit conservative support. But about 42 percent of the Republican primary participants vote for somebody other than McCain (37 percent for Mike Huckabee and 5 percent for Ron Paul), and turnout on the Dem side is much higher. Still, McCain continues to pad his delegate lead, taking 31 of the 37 delegates awarded based on Tuesday's vote. He also has all three uncommitted GOP delegates backing him. Overall turnout was close to the projected 1.5 million voters, but about 1.1 million of those played in the more meaningful Dem primary. Hard-core conservatives are still warming up to McCain, but Wisconsin Republicans are closing ranks now -- a good indication for the fall, insiders say.

Jim Doyle: The enthusiastic Dem guv campaigns around the state for Obama and breaks the "Doyle endorsement curse" in a big way. Doyle gets to introduce Obama at the Kohl Center rally a week before the primary and then at a Saturday night Democratic Party dinner where Obama shines in front of national and state media. Fans say with Doyle's help, Obama was able to run a two-week campaign in Wisconsin while Clinton ran a lackluster effort. Doyle does a victory lap on primary night, declaring it "one of the great campaigns in the history of the state of Wisconsin." Insiders continue to wonder whether helping to deliver Wisconsin to Obama in the nomination phase of the prez contest will result in a job offer, and he gets some national notice on that front in the wake of Obama's big win. But first, skeptics say, he'll have to deliver the state in November, too, if Obama secures the Dem nomination.

Paul Ryan: It never hurts to be mentioned for higher office. Ryan, the 38-year-old conservative darling who represents the 1st Congressional District in Congress, is mentioned as a possible McCain running mate. Conservative sage Bob Novak taps him as a second-tier choice on "Meet the Press." Ryan demurs, and pundits say a Republican with guv experience from the Midwest or South is a better bet. But the mere mention adds to the young pol's standing.

Madison and Milwaukee: The cities show their power in Dem politics with big turnouts and 60 percent-plus winning percentages for Obama. Both city mayors -- Tom Barrett in Milwaukee and Dave Cieslewicz in Madison -- back the Illinois senator.

Mixed

Barb Lawton: While Doyle's out stumping for Obama and spurring speculation he might become a member of a possible Obama administration, the lieutenant guv is stumping hard for Clinton. She got attention over the weekend, campaigning with Clinton in Milwaukee. But she also got mixed reviews from insiders for her surrogate efforts and ends up on the losing end, having to defend a lackluster campaign to supporters and election-watchers.

Michael McGee Jr.: The African American Milwaukee alderman leads a nine-way primary field to get into the finals April 1 -- from jail. The controversial figure is facing a variety of state and federal charges. That apparently doesn't faze constituents who may seem him as a victim of racial prosecution, but critics say it gives the city a black eye. He'll face Milele Coggs, niece of state Sen. Spencer Coggs; she finished second Tuesday to McGee. In the meantime, insiders are calling him the favorite based on his showing Tuesday. But even if he wins in April he might have to vacate the office if convicted.

Falling

Hillary Clinton: Wisconsin should have been be an ideal place for Clinton to take on Obama, but instead a blowout loss allows Obama to gain more momentum going into Ohio and Texas. Insiders debated all week why she didn't hit the state harder and why her campaign sent mixed messages about Wisconsin's importance. The answer seems to lie in a national strategy to save resources and test negative messages for the March 4 contests, instead relying on AFSCME and the American Federation of Teachers. When the history of the campaign is written, many insiders predict the Clinton campaign's Wisconsin effort will be seen as a strategic mistake.

Mike Huckabee: The former Arkansas guv charmed Wisconsin crowds in a campaign that featured multiple stops. But he drew 37 percent of the primary vote and wins two congressional districts in the state -- the 3rd in western Wisconsin and the 7th in northern Wisconsin. That means he picks up just six delegates from the state as he falls further behind in the delegate count. Tuesday's loss also finishes him in the eyes of leading Republicans and pundits -- especially after many had considered him done a week ago and started calling on him to drop out. If he doesn't drop out soon, that veep talk will go away in a hurry, insiders predict.

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