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Where Obama And Barrett Diverge in Wisconsin Where Obama And Barrett Diverge in Wisconsin

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Politics

Where Obama And Barrett Diverge in Wisconsin

May 14, 2012

While Wisconsin Democrats reportedly are angry with the national party for not offering greater financial assistance for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's gubernatorial campaign, it's worth noting that, in some ways, the interests of Barrett's campaign are at odds with those of President Obama's reelection team.

For Barrett to defeat Republican Gov. Scott Walker, he needs to convince voters that the state's economy is headed in the wrong direction. Recent polling in Wisconsin shows the state is extremely polarized with only a sliver of the electorate undecided heading toward the recall general election. Arguments over collective bargaining rights for public sector unions are less important to these voters than those firmly entrenched on either side of the aisle. That is why the early stages of the Walker-Barrett rematch largely have focused on the economy, with the two sides continually bickering over the state's job numbers. If independent voters lose faith in Walker's ability to steer the economy, Barrett's chances of unseating the governor improve.

But the opposite is true for Obama. With Wisconsin potentially in play in November, the last thing the president's campaign wants is a growing sense that the economy is headed in the wrong direction, especially among all-important independent voters.

This is not to suggest that the Obama camp is by any means rooting for Walker over Barrett, who the White House recruited to run for governor in 2010. And momentum from a Barrett victory could ultimately boost Obama's chances in the Badger State. But for the moment, Barrett and Obama want voters to have very different views on the direction of the state's economy.

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