Kloppenburg leads in Wisconsin, voters send strong message to Guv Walker

The Wisconsin supreme court election held yesterday is still too close to call. At 9 a.m. this morning Colorado time, conservative Justice David Prosser reportedly led liberal opponent Joanne Kloppenburg by 800 or so votes. An hour later, AP has Kloppenburg ahead of Prosser by 200 votes. (10:30 a.m. update: With 84 percent counted Kloppenburg leads by 35,000 votes). Whether Prosser wins or loses, Wisconsin voters have sent a clear message rejecting Governor Scott Walker’s uncompromising pugilist political style if not his anti-union agenda.

This judicial election is the first in a series of do-overs to be held in the state after Republicans swept into office in November and set in motion a political clash that has hobbled government, turned the capitol into a permanent protest site and drawn the eyes of the nation. Democrats have led a drive to recall Republican lawmakers backing Walker and that effort has been sailing along with plenty of speed. The results of yesterday’s voting can’t be giving realistic GOP analysts any more cheer about their prospects in the months ahead.

In any state in any year, it’s tough to get American voters to care much about judicial races. It’s rare to unseat judicial incumbents. This election in Wisconsin, coming devoid of Congressional races or a presidential contest to draw voters to the polls, should have been a cakewalk for Prosser. It looks like he might lose.

Dave Weigel at Slate has posted Wisconsin election maps from last night, the midterm November election and the 2004 presidential election. “What does this mean for the next few months of politics?” he asks.

Well, look at Trempealeau, Vernon, LaCrosse, and Crawford counties. Those counties make up most of Dan Kapanke’s district — he’s the first Republican senator who may be subject to a recall vote, after Democrats submitted petitions against him. They were blue in 2004, but LaCrosse and Vernon turned red for Walker. All of them voted for Kloppenburg last night — she won Trempealeau by 8 points, Vernon by 10 points, and both Crawford and LaCrosse by 18 points.

Head over to Slate. The pictures are worth a lot of words.

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