The grinding sound you heard on your television set last night was the media machine flailing and failing to get its election reporting out of first gear. The problem was that the actual election results in Wisconsin were not fitting the tropes used in the past.
It's often good to put down a marker for old political tropes that are breaking down. One is trust in exit polls. Seemingly everyone on the right is laughing at the mainstream media idea that President Obama was the winner of a moral victory in Wisconsin (according to MSNBC, among others) because exit polls showed voters preferring him by 11 points (later reduced to seven points) over Mitt Romney. The trouble, as former Bush aide Ari Fleischer tried unsuccessfully to point out to his CNN colleagues, the same exit polls showed Governor Walker, who beat the Democratic candidate, Mayor Tom Barrett, by seven points, was supposed to be in a "50-50" race. If the polls are so wrong on a race that is contradicted by actual results how predictive can they be on a different matter?
Another trope that got a well-deserved blow: that a recall is somehow a justifiable "last resort" (as E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post called it) for policy differences. It's not. The Progressive Era reformers much admired these days on the left did not intend the Recall process they invented to become a kind of second chance to change a policy direction. Gov. Walker was loathed and confronted because he tried to curb the public employee unions, not because of some malfeasance or corruption. Maybe future recall attempts after this will have a harder time getting launched.
Another enfeebled trope: a politician can't cross the public employee unions. Well, one just did and in his fight against the recall attempt has helped educate the American people about the dangers of excess public employee power in government. I call it "government of the government, by the government and for the government." Sometimes I have despaired of the voters ever realizing that spending and taxes and regulation are out of control not just because of politicians, but also because of government unions that have too much influence on those politicians. It is encouraging that stories from the Walker camp that many state employees support his reforms were born out in estimates that 38 percent of union members voted for Walker.
I won't despair any more after yesterday's vote in Wisconsin.