I am old enough that very little surprises me anymore.
But I was flabbergasted by Tuesday's election results. I literally could not believe what I was seeing on Tuesday night.
There is no way around the fact that the turnout for Scott Walker was highly unusual. As Christian Schneider points out, elections in which only one party has an actual contested primary (and, no, Arthur Kohl-Riggs does not count) generally results in much higher turnout for the party with a contest. Whether it is the Democrats or Republicans, the party with a primary generally sees turnout at 200-250% of the party without. We saw the same pattern in the recent presidential primary. Many more people voted in the GOP primary.
The GOP did about nothing to get out the vote this week. Believe me. I know. My phone never rang. My mailbox was empty. I got a few e-mails but, as GOTV goes, there was nothing. Even talk radio was largely focused on the Democrats.
So what does it mean? The Democrats' turnout was not bad but one wonders how much more there could be. Their story has been that there is a groundswell of popular furor that will sweep Walker out of office. But how many voters could be enraged at Walker and yet not bother to vote in the primary to choose his opponent? You have to wonder how low the ceiling is for the Democrats.
On the other hand, the fact that so many Republicans turned out to case a symbolic vote suggests a large and highly motivated Republican base. It is easy to imagine Walker voters staying home for a primary that meant nothing. You have to wonder how high the ceiling is for the Republicans.
Of course, the Democrats can tell a story. Lots of anti-Walker voters don't care who his opponent is, the unions pulled back their ground game when they saw Falk couldn't win, Walker's support is limited to highly motivated conservatives, etc.
But, among themselves, the Dems have to be shocked and worried.
As for my side, I once tried a case that went on for weeks and involved many lawyers. One of the guys on my side of the case - a wonderful lawyer who is now a judge - would always bring us to earth when we thought things were going well.
"Don't get smug," he'd say.