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Wisconsin recall vote: Why didn't Obama campaign there?

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• Obama has not been able to turn around losing efforts in past high-profile campaigns, and he doesn’t want to risk adding to that narrative. In 2009, he campaigned for both then-New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, both of whom lost. His highest-profile flop may have been Massachusetts, where he campaigned for state Attorney General Martha Coakley only to see her lose to now-Sen. Scott Brown (R).

The counterargument is that Obama could come in and help energize the Democratic base – useful both for the recall election and for November. Certainly, the Republicans are thrilled that the recall has provided a rallying point to get organized for the presidential contest. If Walker wins, that will give Wisconsin Republicans a burst of energy and optimism that Mitt Romney can win their state’s electoral votes for the first time since President Reagan won Wisconsin in 1984.

Wisconsin isn’t a must-win for Mr. Romney, but if Obama starts to lose altitude there, it’s a sign that he’s in trouble broadly across the map of battleground states. He won Wisconsin in 2008 by 14 percentage points.

Some on-scene observers say Obama’s involvement would have been a no-lose prospect. Democratic pollster Paul Maslin, who is based in Wisconsin’s capital, Madison, notes to The Washington Post that Obama and Walker are both campaigning on signs of improvement in the economy.

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