A tale of two Republicans, part three: In common.

Remarkably, Walker and Johnson’s vote totals, margin of victories and the counties won were virtually the same.   Voters viewed Walker and Johnson as a package deal.

How did this happen?

In my view, the 2010 election was more about federal issues than state issues.

Ron Johnson spent millions of his own personal wealth keeping Feingold’s feet to the fire all summer and the focus on national issues like government run health care reform and massive deficit spending. 

Blame for economy and higher unemployment, the finger was pointed at Washington, D.C., not Madison.  Despite promises that stimulus spending would create jobs, it didn’t.

Governor Jim Doyle and Barrett federalized the governor’s race by calling upon the Obama White House to deploy their assets in Wisconsin, including Barrett’s campaign manager.

Oddly enough, while Russ Feingold was trying to run away from Obama, Barrett couldn’t run fast enough to greet Obama every time he campaigned in Wisconsin.  It makes complete sense if you understand that Barrett really, really didn’t want to be governor in the first place.

By the time November 2nd rolled around, voters saw Walker and Johnson pretty much the same way, and they saw Feingold, Barrett and Obama the same way too.

Had Johnson not been in the race for U.S. Senate, the outcome of the governor’s race could have been similar to that of Minnesota’s, where Republicans and Democrats are engaged in a massive recount fight to determine a winner.  However, I suspect that Walker would have still edged a victory.

In the October 22, 2010 edition of the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan made a valid point about the Tea Party affect and the Republican Party:

The tea party did something the Republican establishment was incapable of doing: It got the party out from under George W. Bush. The tea party rejected his administration’s spending, overreach and immigration proposals, among other items, and has become only too willing to say so. In doing this, the tea party allowed the Republican establishment itself to get out from under Mr. Bush: “We had to, boss, it was a political necessity!” They released the GOP establishment from its shame cringe.

In Wisconsin, Ron Johnson helped Republicans move on.  There is no doubt in my mind that his candidacy not only helped Scott Walker win this November, but also helped other down ticket races.  At the very least, Johnson contributed to a perfect storm scenario that allowed Wisconsin to go red in 2010.

While the Democrats still haven’t grasped what happened on November 2nd, I’m hopeful that Wisconsin Republicans will embrace the message sent on Election Day and not forget how it happened in the first place.