I see a lot of folks on Facebook and Twitter hanging their heads about what happened in the recall elections last night, when Democrats failed to pick up enough seats to take over control of the Wisconsin Senate, which would have given them the ability to block Gov. Scott Walker's austerity agenda. It's true that in that sense, last night was not a win. But this wasn't like 2004, when despite massive outrage against Bush and the Republican Party over the Iraq War, Bush was re-elected and Republicans picked up seats in both houses of Congress. The seats that were contested yesterday were lost by Democrats in 2008 (a great year for Democrats nationally and in Wisconsin) by 15%. Obama carried the state of Wisconsin that year by 2%. Outside groups like Americans for Prosperity poured tens of millions of dollars into supporting Republicans in strong Republican districts. In this context, it's amazing that any of the Democrats were even in the game, much less winners. But Democrats managed to pick up two seats last night. They upped their ground game in every district, making preparations in Republican territory for tough statewide contests. The New York Times election stats guru Nate Silver makes the point that these districts all went heavily for Walker in 2010. If they came close to splitting between Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday, he could be in trouble for a recall of his own. Guess what happened? Now the Senate is 17-16, not 19-14. It's going to be a lot harder for Walker to get anything radical through the chamber, certainly nothing like what he managed to strong-arm through in the spring. Now is not the time to hang our heads. Now it's time to get to work.
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