The Democrats have seen the future, and they don't like it. Wisconsin is the crystal ball. The fight they picked there showed Mitt Romney how to win. And they're not so certain they can stop him.
Hispanics won't help. Neither will blacks, gays or young voters. Not without some sort of history- reversing miracle.
Wisconsin proved that super PACs and seething conservative anger win. Even when they're up against powerful labor unions and liberal outrage.
The Republicans know it. And they're flat-out tickled.
"Obama's goose is cooked," former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren.
Romney said the failed recall effort against Republican Gov. Scott Walker will "echo throughout the country."
The truth is, they should be happy. Tuesday's vote was about a lot more than Walker. It was a test of the election strategies both parties have been deploying for November. It was mountains of money flowing through super PACs against grassroots organization, Tea Party conservatives against labor union liberals, and the influence of the national parties at the state level.
The Republicans even had a chance to test the effectiveness of their "big government is what's causing the still-sagging economy" message.
And the Democrats are shaking in their political boots.
"The Wisconsin results should serve as a wake-up call for Democrats: on-the-ground organizing is critically important, but it must be coupled with an aggressive air campaign," Representative Steve Israel, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement on the group's website. "Without robust air cover, the voice of the middle class will be silenced."
They should be scared.
No Republican presidential candidate has won Wisconsin since 1984. That would be Ronald Reagan. The folks in the Badger State (who comes up with these nicknames anyway?) didn't go for Bush senior, junior, Bob Dole or John McCain.
Suddenly, it looks like that can change. Romney could break the Republican streak. And who can he thank? The Democrats.
Flashback to a little over a year ago. A first- time, first-term Republican governor, Scott Walker, gets into a political fistfight with Wisconsin's Democrats and state employee unions. He tried to cut their bargaining power. Ouch!
Democratic legislators fought him, and lost. Rank- and-file party members screamed, "Recall!" And the rest, all the way through Tuesday night, is a history the party's leaders in Washington, D.C., wished had never happened and Republicans are ecstatic did.
"Wisconsin was a microcosm of the national race" Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, told the New York Times. "The issues that Scott Walker campaigned and ran on are the same issues that are going to divide Mitt Romney and Barack Obama."
What's scariest for the Democrats is that they fought with all they had, in what the head of the Democratic National Committee called a "dry run" for Obama's general election ground game.
They sent in more than 100 paid staffers to work with teams of volunteers fanning out from more than 40 party-run offices.
"All of the Obama for America and state-party resources, our grass-roots network, is fully engaged," DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz told the Times.
And, if the result in Wisconsin is truly a sign of the pent-up power conservatives will unleash in November, Obama is going to have to do a much better job of getting the vote out.
The problem is, Obama is strong with Hispanics, blacks, gays and youth. But that might not help him much.
Hispanics, blacks and young people have the lowest voter turnout of just about anybody. At least one 2007 study showed that gay men and lesbians vote in stunningly high percentages, but they make up a relatively low number of voters -- an estimated 7.3 percent of the nation¿s total at the time of the study.
Republicans are strong with Tea Party conservatives, Evangelical Christians, and older voters, who all tend to turn out for elections in extremely high numbers.
That all adds up to good news for Romney. Wisconsin proves it.
Source: Terra/Carlos Harrison