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Wisconsin Vote Could Impact US Presidential Election

Wisconsin’s Republican Governor, Scott Walker, survived a recall election Tuesday in a vote that political analysts believe could have an impact on this year’s U.S. presidential race.

It was a moment of sweet vindication for Wisconsin’s embattled Republican governor, Scott Walker.

“Voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions,” Walker said.

Walker angered labor unions and Democrats with a push for budget cuts that included stripping away collective bargaining rights for public employees.

That led to weeks of angry protests and a recall effort to replace Walker with the Democratic mayor of Milwaukee, Tom Barrett.

Analysts say Republicans should be encouraged by the Walker victory as they look toward the November election matchup between President Barack Obama and his expected Republican challenger, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

“Mitt Romney certainly will take from Wisconsin that voters still care very much about spending, debt, deficits and ways to control it. And being austere and looking for fiscal responsibility can be popular,” said John Fortier, director of the Democracy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

The Wisconsin results could also serve as a warning to Democrats and President Obama.

“I think they should be a bit worried. I think their overall position is one where they are looking for a very close election and they are going to have to worry about some states that were quite safe for them in 2008, states like Wisconsin and Iowa,” Fortier said.

The Romney campaign is taking heart from the Wisconsin results.

“Look, I’m convinced this man is out of ideas, I know he is out of excuses and in 2012 you are going to make sure we vote him out of office!,” Romney said to supporters in Texas.

But exit polls of Wisconsin voters show they still plan to back the president over Romney come Election Day, welcome news as Obama tries to rally his supporters with help from former President Bill Clinton.

“We have worked too hard and too long to right the ship and move us in the right direction. We are not going backwards. We are going forward,” Obama said.

The economy remains the decisive issue in this year’s election, says Gallup pollster Frank Newport.

“And right now all of our data suggests that in this 2012 election it is the U.S. economy that is the defining issue on voter’s minds when they say, hmm, who should I vote for,” Newport said.

The latest polls show the president and Romney essentially tied five months before the election.
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    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.