Wisconsin Recall: Full Election Coverage

Learn who won Tuesday's historic elections, why Gov. Scott Walker was almost ousted, how the outcome could have a nationwide impact, and more.

AP/Seth Perlman

Update: Scott Walker beat Tom Barrett by 7 percentage points with 96 percent of the vote counted, and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, state Sens. Terry Moulton and Scott Fitzgerald all retained their positions as well. The only public official who lost their seat Tuesday appears to be state Sen. Van Wanggaard, who lost by 779 votes to former Sen. John Lehman. The tight margin, however, could bring a recount, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Wondering how many Wisconsinites participated in the nation's only gubernatorial recall election to keep its current governor? Find out here.


The day is finally here. After many months of speculation, Wisconsin voters are flocking to the polls Tuesday to decide whether they want Republican Gov. Scott Walker to continue to represent their state.

At midday, voter turnout throughout the state was "just wild," according to Dane County Clerk Karen Peters. It ranged from 28 percent to 42 percent, but "could hit 80 to 88 percent" by the time the polls close, she told the Wisconsin State Journal.

It's a historic recall election -- only the third attempt to oust a governor in the nation's history -- and the outcome holds important, national implications for public employee unions, Republicans and Democrats. Read this to learn how the election could influence labor groups, their Democratic allies and Republicans; and check out this Los Angeles Times analysis of how the recall's outcome could impact the presidential election.

Check this page for full recall election coverage. In the meantime, learn more about the candidates, the campaign donors, and how Walker got to this point.

Why the Recall?

The attempt to recall Gov. Walker, led for the most part by labor groups and Democrats, began last year when he supported and signed legislation to effectively end collective bargaining rights for most public employee unions as well as force them to pay more toward their pension and health care costs.

The push to curb the soaring cost of public workers' benefits was not isolated to Wisconsin last year, though. Conservative lawmakers in several states last year tried to push similar legislation -- some successful, some not. For an in-depth look at the issue, read "Are the Unions Winning the Fight?" from Governing's July issue.

Who's Winning?

Just one day before the election, a poll from Public Policy Polling found Gov. Walker leading his challenger, Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who has the support of former President Bill Clinton, by 3 percentage points. This will be Walker and Barrett's second gubernatorial faceoff -- the first of which occurred in 2010 when Walker beat Barrett for the very position he is trying now to keep. Read more about Barrett's rise to victory here.

Wisconsin election officials are predicting a record number of voters -- between 60 percent and 65 percent -- to cast their ballot Tuesday. The largest turnout the state has seen for a governor's race was 52.4 percent in 1962.

But it's not necessarily how many voters turnout, but which voters turnout that will determine the outcome of the election. The Sentinel examines the composition of Wisconsin's electorate -- and what that means for the outcome of today's election -- here

How Expensive is This Election?

If there's one aspect of this election that hasn't gone unnoticed by transparency advocates and media alike, it's the record-breaking cost of it. As of last month, Walker's campaign had spent $42 million -- the most ever spent on a political race in Wisconsin.

And thanks to a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows unions and corporations to give unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns, outside groups overwhelmed both Walker and Barrett's campaigns with money to support their cause. For a full examination of the ruling's impact on state elections, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, read "Citizens United's Corporate Candidate" from Governing's May issue. 

Who Else is Facing a Recall?

Gov. Walker isn't the only one of his fellow Republican leaders who may be kicked out of office Tuesday for supporting anti-union legislation. His lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, as well as three state senators -- Van Wanggaard, Terry Moulton and Scott Fitzgerald -- are also facing recall elections. Republican state Sen. Pam Galloway would have faced a recall, but she has since resigned, reports the Sentinel.

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.