John Nichols is employing appealing logic but faulty evidence in making the case that the Democrats would have done better in Wisconsin if only they had nominated Barbara Lawton to be their guv candidate:
If turnout among women had been normal for a midterm election, and if the gender gap had remained as it was before this year, Russ Feingold would have been re-elected and a Democrat would have been elected governor. Barbara Lawton would have excited precisely the voters that Democrats needed most.
The point about female turnout is compelling. Less women turning out than usual is another sign that the Democrats struggled to mobilize their base in Wisconsin. The fact is especially damning given that nationally, women represented an even larger share of the electorate than four years ago -- a huge Democratic year. However, the national trends suggest that the big swing to Republicans from men had a bigger effect than the more modest swing to the GOP from women.
Also suspect is Nichols contention that Lawton had a strong base upon which to base a gubernatorial run. Don't get me wrong -- Lawton has always had a dedicated staff and is popular in certain progressive circles. However, what does that amount to in the context of a statewide race? Nichols argues the support of "Hillary Clinton's backers" could have played a key role -- more so than the entire Democratic establishment, both in Madison and D.C., including the guy who beat Hillary, Barack Obama?
A more convincing point would have been that Lawton has strong ties in the Green Bay area, and could have performed better up there than Barrett. Nichols neglected this point, however.
Last but not least, what evidence is there that Lawton would have had a more appealing message than Barrett against Walker? Despite the well-known fact that Lawton and Doyle don't get along, if the GOP was able to tie Barrett to Doyle, it would have had little problem tying Doyle to his lieutenant.