More than 12 months after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took on public employee unions in his home state, the Republican lawmaker and his supporters are set to find out whether Walker's decision ultimately ended his service as governor.
Polls closed at 8 p.m. CT Tuesday in the race to recall Walker, who faces his 2010 opponent Democrat Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee.
Final independent polls, including one survey released Monday from Public Policy Polling, showed Walker with a narrow lead over Barrett. But Walker's narrow margin suggested the race would ultimately come down to turnout.
Walker was targeted last year for a recall by state and national labor groups, progressives, students and others who viewed his decision to push for an end to collective bargaining by state public employee unions as an attack on middle class America.
Those same groups helped fund and get out the vote for Barrett this year, but Democrats remained heavily outspent by Walker and his supporters.
Walker's efforts drew support from the tea party, fiscal conservatives, and many prominent Republicans across the country who personally and financially supported the governor in his recall race. Walker raised more than $30 million, according to estimates, compared to $4 million raised by Barrett, and Walker had several heavy-hitting outside groups in his corner, including the billionaire Koch brothers, who head up a nonprofit called Americans for Prosperity.
While Walker received public support from figures such as Mitt Romney, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, Democrats did not flock to Barrett's campaign.
Though Bill Clinton did campaign for Barrett, Barack Obama did not-- a decision Republicans pointed to as evidence of Barrett's weak standing. The president's campaign this week offered last-minute get-out-the-vote messages for Barrett via Twitter and via a campaign video, though it did not feature the president.
A win by Walker will be viewed as a significant blow to big labor, which has been fighting stories of the movement's demise. Polls, campaign finance figures, and anecdotal evidence consistently showed Republicans winning an advantage in terms of voter enthusiasm and energy.
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