... In 2008, Mr. Obama won here by almost 14 percentage points, and a Republican presidential candidate has not won Wisconsin since 1984. But overwhelming Republican victories in 2010 and a State Supreme Court election in 2011... has raised new questions for races in the fall, including a United States Senate seat left open by the retirement of Herb Kohl, a Democrat.I'd say it's more than just an early test. It's a place to shape public opinion. An immense amount of money will be spent focusing attention on a pretty specific set of issues: government employees (and their benefits and unions) and how to balance the budget. Presumably Mitt Romney will have the Republican nomination sewn up and presidential politics may be in a bit of a lull. I'm picturing national party politics overshadowed by the crisply ideological fight we're having here in Wisconsin. Suddenly, the spokesperson for conservatism will be the little seen but oft-denounced Scott Walker. And holding up the liberal end of the argument will be... somebody. We don't know who. I wonder how that will work out.
“It’s an early skirmish, a dry run, a fight of proxies and laboratory for experimentation,” Mordecai Lee, a former state legislator who teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said of the recall’s significance for the presidential election.
On both sides, the recall could create a testing ground for larger national themes about collective bargaining and unions, and build volunteer and political operations (not to mention a list of some 720,000 recall signers) long before fall.
I happen to believe Russ Feingold will step forward, even though he's said he won't. (I explained why back here.)