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A general election recall vote would be the best time from the Democrats’ perspective. It would fit into a presidential race, and in fact it would completely negate any advantage that incumbency might have for Walker — no extra voters are coming out for the recall, and the issues surrounding the recall might very well be subsumed into the general election fight. It would end up being almost a standard gubernatorial race, but one where the Democrats have a built-in voter advantage (the party has won the state in every presidential race since 1984).
However, November 2012 is a long way off, and the Republicans are well aware of the negative consequences of holding a recall on Election Day. You can be certain they would do everything in their power to prevent it. And it shouldn’t be too hard to do — look at the so-called fake Democratic primaries in the Senatorial recalls. That pushed off the recall date by a month. It will be extremely difficult for the Democrats to time this recall properly.
The talk of taking out Walker is big rallying point for the Democrats and a way to mitigate any pain felt from their failure to capture the state Senate. But make no mistake about it, a gubernatorial recall would be a massive undertaking, one that could cause the party grief come November 2012.
Joshua Spivak is a senior fellow at the Hugh L. Carey Institute for Government Reform at Wagner College. He blogs at http://recallelections.blogspot.com.