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While we await results on Wisconsin recall elections…

While we await results on Wisconsin recall election, some historical perspective
By Eric Black

… some historical perspective.

There’s never been anything like this before. There are six recall elections today, all for Wisconsin state senators with a statistical possibility of turning the Wisconsin Senate from Republican to Dem control. When they are done, Wisconsin will have held elections for nine state senators this summer. That’s triple the previous record for the sheer number of recall votes in any state during any single biennium.

Joshua Spivak, a New York lawyer whose avocation seems to be the history of and news about recall elections, has started a blog on the subject. He writes:

“How historic are Wisconsin recall elections? Since 1908 (when Oregon became the first state to adopt the recall for state level officials), there have been 20 state legislative recall elections in the entire country. In this term, Wisconsin will have nine recalls in a little over a month.

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“Previously, the maximum recalls in one legislative session were three in California in 1995. Michigan in 1983 (taxes) and Idaho in 1971 (pay raise) both had two at once.

Will voters shy away from switching party control of the Senate? Nope! If the Democrats win at least three seats and lose none, they will have gained a majority in the Senate. There have been three recalls (four or five if you want to count California in 1995 multiple times) that could have switched the legislature (Michigan 1983, California 1995, Wisconsin 1996). All of them succeeded.

Recalls are frequently successful — 13 of the 20 (now 21 thanks to the July 19 Wisconsin race) recalls have resulted in the official being kicked out of office, as have both of the governors. There are no hard numbers for others recalls, but it does seem to be over 50%.”