Wis. recall down to the wire

Scott Walker takes his cash advantage to the polls; Obama donors drop out; and Monday's other top political stories

Topics: Wisconsin Recall,

- One day to go: Wisconsin’s bruising recall election battle has become the most expensive race in the state’s history, according to the Center for Public Integrity, with over $63 million spent, much of it from outside groups.

And while the conventional wisdom gives Governor Scott Walker the odds, a new PPP poll finds “a race that’s tightening,” with Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett narrowing the gap slightly. He now trails by just 3 points.

The expectation, cliche as it is, is that the race will hinge on turnout and the campaigns’ abilities to get voters to the polls. Democrats, with the formidable organizing power of unions behind them, traditionally have an advantage here, but the PPP poll also found that Republicans are more excited to vote tomorrow than Democrats.

Meanwhile, the Republican Governors Association (RGA) dropped another $1.5 million into the state, bringing their total investment to $8 million and underscoring the dramatic fundraising advantage Walker has had all along. Their counterpart, the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), meanwhile, has invested just over $3 million into the race. And while outside groups backing Walker have dumped millions into the recall, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), an independent outside group backing Barrett, just chipped in another $100,000, bringing their total to $300,000. Unions have contributed more.

- Walker denies criminal investigation: Walker vehemently denied this weekend that he is a target of an ongoing “John Doe” criminal investigation in wrongdoing by his staff, despite the fact that the campaign put $160,000 towards a legal defense fund for the governor last week.

Progressive journalist and former MSNBC anchor David Shuster, based on sources inside the Department of Justice’s public integrity unit, reported that Walker is indeed a target of a federal criminal probe. He pointed to the fact that the DA has not cleared Walker’s name, as they would be obligated to do if he requested it and he was not the target.

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Here’s everything you need to know about the John Doe investigation.

- Ol’ McDonnell no longer had a shot at being VP-o: Virginia’s Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, who has been rumored to be a top contender for the GOP vice presidential slot, may have torpedoed his chances yesterday when he gave President Obama partial credit for jobs created in his state. Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, McDonnell opined, “Did [the stimulus] help us in the short-run with health care and education and spending to balance the budget? Sure.” Asked whether the president “deserves a tiny bit of credit” for Virginia’s better-than-average economy, McDonnell responded, “Well, sure. I think there are national policies that have had some impact.”

- Obama donors not coming back?: Small donors, those who gave $200 or less, were the lifeblood of Obama’s 2008 campaign, but according to analysis by BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith, “88 percent of the people who gave $200 or more in 2008 — 537,806 people — have not yet given that sum this year. And this drop-off isn’t simply an artifact of timing.”

- Mitt Romney’s youth gap: A new CNN poll finds Mitt Romney’s favorable ratings climbing quickly, though President Obama is still more popular. Of particular difficulty for the Republican is young people — more than two-thirds have a favorable view of Obama, while fewer than 40 percent say the same about Romney.

This is perhaps not surprising, given Obama’s tremendous support from young people in 2008, but getting them to the polls is another question. Romney better hope Urban Outfitters cranks up production of their faux vintage Mitt T-shirts.

- Romney, still really really rich: The presumed GOP nominee released his personal financial disclosure report late Friday afternoon in typical news dump fashion, revealing that he is worth up to $255 million. The forms don’t reveal much new that wasn’t already known from his tax returns, though they break out his specific holdings in some more detail. A trust for his five sons is worth about $100 million, according to the campaign.

- Sad Thad: Rep. Thad McCotter has ended a write-in campaign for his Michigan Congressional seat and will retire from Congress after he failed to qualify for the ballot. Salon’s Steve Kornacki explained last week how McCotter may have been so focused on his failed quixotic presidential bid that he forgot to run for his current seat.

- Massachusetts toss up: No surprise, Elizabeth Warren officially won the Democratic nomination in the Bay State’s Senate race this weekend, and a new poll shows the race a dead heat, despite weeks of phony scandal about her her Native American heritage.

Kornacki writes today that Sen. Sen. Scott Brown’s biggest challenge ‘is the “R’ that comes after Brown’s name.” Parsing the data from previous candidates in a similar position to Brown’s, Kornacki notes “the track record of recent incumbent senators who’ve been in his position is very mixed.”

- Marriage equality gets Venti boost from biz: Politico’s Abby Phillips: “Gay marriage advocates have a new and powerful ally in corporate America. One by one, national corporations like Microsoft, Starbucks, Boeing and Google are wading into the once-risky business of taking a position supporting gay marriage in states across the country. … Forty-eight companies, including Nike, Time Warner Cable, Aetna, Exelon Corp., and Xerox had signed a brief arguing that the [Defence of Marriage Act] negatively affected their businesses.”

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

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