America is almost four weeks into the voting stage of the Republican presidential race. The candidates are debating. The media is covering the competition 24/7, and in such minute detail that Rick Perry’s quitting of the contest was treated as news. And Republicans in three states have caucused and voted in numbers that party leaders, pundits and the talk-radio amen corner tell us are significant.
Yet at the same time, those same party leaders, pundits and radio talkers continue to dismiss the movement to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as a false construct with little real hope of prevailing.
Fair enough, let’s compare.
Since January 3, Republican caucuses have been held in Iowa (with an electorate of 2,231,589), and Republican primaries have been held in New Hampshire (electorate of 998,799) and South Carolina (electorate of 3,385,224).
That adds up to a total electorate of 6,615,612 in the trio of first- (and second- and third-) in-the-nation states.
Turnout for the Iowa caucuses is now pegged at 121,479. Turnout in the New Hampshire primary was 248,448. Turnout in the South Carolina primary was 601,166.
That adds up to a total turnout of 971,093, or about 14.5 percent of the possible voters in the three states.
And what of Wisconsin?
The state has an electorate of 4,170,501.
The United Wisconsin petition drive to recall anti-labor Governor Scott Walker collected significantly more than 1 million signatures.
Rounding to a million, that’s about 23.9 percent of the possible voters in the state.
So here’s what we know:
1. If you add up all the caucus and primary votes that have been cast so far for Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, the former Rick Perry, the former Jon Huntsman, the former Michele Bachmann and the eternal Buddy Roemer, they still have not attracted as much support as has the drive to recall Scott Walker.
2. If you compare the percentage of the electorate in the three caucus and primary states that has expressed support for all the Republicans who would be president, it is dramatically lower than the percentage of the Wisconsin electorate that wants to recall Scott Walker.
3. If you add the total number of names on petitions filed January 17 to recall other Republicans in Wisconsin—Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, state Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald and three of Fitzgerald’s colleagues—the total number of signatures filed in support of the recall of Walker and his cronies is close to 1,940,000. That figure is just about double the number of votes cast in all the Republican presidential contests for all the Republican presidential candidates so far this year.
Conclusion: if the Republican presidential race is a serious endeavor, the Wisconsin drive to recall Scott Walker, Rebecca Kleefisch, Scott Fitzgerald and their compatriots is doubly serious. And far, far more popular with the available electorate.
For more on the recall movement and politics in general, follow me on Twitter: @NicholsUprising