Madison reflections (photo: re_hurd/flickr)

Amid all the blame-gaming going on, and the efforts by hidden-agenda folks to push certain non-factual narratives, there is one key fact that stands out about the Wisconsin recall vote this week — namely, this one:

Sixty percent of Wisconsin voters in today’s recall election say recall elections are only appropriate for official misconduct, according to early CBS News exit polls. Twenty-eight percent said they think they are suitable for any reason, while nine percent think they are never appropriate.

In other words, most Wisconsin voters likely saw this second recall effort not as a legitimate action against someone unfit for office, but as pure revenge or political payback.

Now, one can argue over whether the forces aligned against Walker could have done a better job making the case that Walker is indeed unfit even without the indictments that have been broadly hinted were withheld to avoid influencing the election. But as David Dayen notes, John Nichols, who knows the Wisconsin political scene as well as anyone, told Dayen back in February of 2011 that the recall effort against Walker would likely not succeed:

He understood the shift in the power dynamic here. The unions were punched in the gut by Act 10, and they had a series of poor choices, which they bungled in their own right. This may have been a wake-up call to the left, but that should have happened the moment that Walker stripped workers of their collective bargaining rights.

One suspect that if Nichols understood the effort against Walker to be doomed back in February 2011, a number of other people also did, and thus decided not to join it. Hell, even 36% of union households voted for Walker in the recall, a percentage similar to the percentage of union households that voted for him in 2010. Granted, a lot of unions are conservative ones like police and fire unions, but it’s still surprising that the unions weren’t able to bring more of their membership to back the recall.

But even though the effort to remove Walker didn’t work, he’s still hobbled for at least the rest of the year by the impending Democratic Senate majority, which came about thanks to recalls pursued against several Republican state senators. Walker had been crowing about his plans to do what he did last year: call a special session, once he survived the recall, so he could ram through “right-to-work” (aka right to starve) legislation, a mining bill, and other nasty stuff. That’s not going to happen now.

So pardon me if I’m not putting on a hair shirt over this. Darn things itch, anyway.