"Can 'fake' Democrats really pull an upset" in the Wisconsin recall primaries?
When the word came out a few weeks ago that Republicans were fielding "protest" or "fake" Democratic candidates in six recall elections, the explanation was straightforward: The GOP was just buying time.
By forcing Democratic primary elections, the tactic delayed for four weeks a final recall election and gave the six Republican incumbents time to finish work on the state budget before turning to defend themselves politically. The protest candidates were not perceived as political threats - just loyal Republicans filling a role for their incumbents.
But could any of them actually knock off a Democrat in the July 12 primaries, saving a GOP incumbent from having to face a serious challenger in the Aug. 9 general election?
At first glance, it's not out of the question. And at least one close political observer sees it as a real possibility, though others are skeptical.
There are no GOP primaries that day, so under Wisconsin's open primary system, Republican voters can cross party lines and vote for the fake Democrats.
And each of the six Senate districts where the primaries will be staged was won by a Republican in 2008, a strong Democratic year, so presumably there are plenty of Republican voters out there.
In addition, says Mordecai Lee, political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the primary elections are likely to have very low voter participation, and low-turnout elections tend to attract more conservative voters than high-turnout races.
Finally, Lee says, Republicans, or groups supporting them, could spend heavily in the days before the election, swinging more voters to the fake Democrats.
That should cause concern for the "real" Democrats who signed up to challenge the Republican incumbents, says Lee, a former Democratic state legislator himself.
They run fake TEA Party candidates across the country, we will run fake Dims in their fake recall elections.