A recent headline in the New York Times: “Democrats Want to Beat Scott Walker But the Wisconsin Economy Is a Hurdle.” The lengthy report examines the Badger State’s Democrats’ attempt to deprive Walker of a third term as governor. Their problems consist mainly of good news: The state’s unemployment rate stands at a staggeringly low 3.0 percent and average hourly wages are up 5 percent from last year, compared with 2.9 percent nationally. “Democratic leaders are watching Wisconsin closely,” the Times explains, “in part to understand how to run against a relatively upbeat economy, and in part for lessons for winning back the state in the 2020 presidential election.”
Wisconsin Democrats have a strategy: Pretend a robust economy is something other than what it is. “[Gov. Walker] can talk about the unemployment rate until the cows come home,” says challenger Tony Evers. “Most people are just scraping by, so that doesn’t mean anything to them. Many of the people that are employed are having to get two or three jobs just to make ends meet. Also, we’re in a state that people are leaving because of the decisions he has made.” Of course, people are always moving away from Wisconsin—because it’s cold. (No offense to our editor in chief.) Out-migration, though, appears to have been markedly down in 2017.
“Around the state,” the report goes on, “Democrats said they had not felt the benefit of the state’s impressive economic statistics.” Kriss Marion, an organic vegetable farmer and a Democrat running for a statehouse seat, speaks for many of her fellow partisans: “People are frustrated and sad at things deteriorating. Who wants to see their little town crumble around them?”
We’ll find out soon if Evers can moan his way into the governor’s mansion. Somehow we suspect Wisconsinites are smart enough to know if times are good or bad without the help of politicians feigning despondency.