Democratic spin doctors were loudly trumpeting that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s 7 point victory in the recall election was not necessarily an indication that Romney could carry the Badger state. After all, they were quick to point out, exit polls taken among voters leaving the booths showed Obama beating Romney — also by 7 points — 51-44.
But now it appears that this may not be the final word since the exit polls did not tally the preferences of absentee voters who, NBC estimates, cast 15 percent of the vote in the recall election. While some exit polls add a telephone sample of early or absentee voters to supplement their actual interviews at the polling place, the Wisconsin exit surveys did not. And the absentee voters backed Walker heavily, leading to the likely inference that they also would have told pollsters, had they asked, that they were for Romney as well.
Indeed, the exit polls were so skewed toward Democrats that they initially predicted a 50-50 race in the recall election. But when the absentee votes were also counted, Walker had a 7 point victory. If the absentees moved the needle in the recall election by 7 points, is it not also logical that they would have had the same effect on the presidential polling had they been counted in that contest as well? In light of that data, what would have happened to Obama’s 7 point lead over Romney in the exit polls? Likely that lead would have been erased as well.
The fact is that the Walker victory is a solid indication that Romney has an excellent chance of carrying Wisconsin. Undoubtedly, he was under 50% of the Wisconsin vote among all recall election voters — absentees included. Possibly, he might have been tied with Romney. Most likely the result would have been within the margin of error.
But the Democratic spin did its election night work and it is now conventional wisdom that Obama maintains a healthy lead in Wisconsin despite the Walker victory. Conventional wisdom and dead wrong.