I read this quote the other day from the state senate president in WI saying that by taking away collective bargaining, Obama will have a harder time winning Wisconsin in '12. What's your take on that? Do Republicans really think that people vote Democrat because the unions tell them to? Is there any merit to such an idea at all?Short term effects, long term effects. Short term, I basically agree with Nate Silver: it seems like that Wisconsin is likely to matter a lot more to liberals than conservatives, and so the net effect would help mobilize Democrats. Major, major caveat, however; we're now in March 2011. Perhaps liberals will still be talking about this in twenty months; perhaps not. Even in Wisconsin, although certainly it does look as if there will be recall elections to keep it alive for a while at least. At the very least, it probably buys the Dems more leeway with labor for a while, because it's going to be a long while before union leaders think it doesn't matter who win elections.
Long term effects...unions as institutions strongly tend to support Democrats, and if the policy is successful in Wisconsin and elsewhere in harming public employee unions, then it will hurt the Democrats -- but more clearly, to the extent that unions are a smaller portion of the Democratic coalition, then Democratic politicians are going to be less interested in representing them. My guess right now, however, is that the public employee unions will win enough of these fights that it's not going to matter nearly as much as people hope or fear.