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Finally: A Republican Prediction That Came True

10/09/2013 08:55 pm 20:55:33 | Updated Dec 09, 2013

I give credit when Republicans are right.

Following the 2012 elections, when Democrats made historic gains in state legislatures across the country, Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) President Chris Jankowski -- whose mission, in part, is to elect Republican state legislators -- said, "2012 was about as close to a fair fight as you get, and we lost on operations and tactics. There's no getting around that."

He was correct, and I respect his honesty.

This summer, Mr. Jankowski hit the nail on the head again when he presciently wrote that "someday the diverging paths taken by Minnesota and Wisconsin after the 2010 election will make a fascinating political science case study proving the importance of electing Republican representatives."

Just like his analysis of the 2012 elections, Mr. Jankowski was completely, 100 percent right. In fact, "someday" may actually be today.

But first, a bit of history. In 2010 Republicans took control of the legislatures in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. However, in 2012 Democrats took back both houses of the Minnesota legislature while Republicans (thanks in large part to GOP legislative gerrymandering) maintained control of the Wisconsin legislature.

As a result, Mr. Jankowski complains that Minnesota is suffering under the "liberal, economically-hostile, anti-business policies" of that state's first entirely Democratic-led government in more than a quarter-century.   But the reality is far different:  Minnesota has actually been steadily gaining jobs under Democratic leadership, and in fact, it has now replaced all of the jobs it lost to the Great Recession.  Every last one, with thousands to spare and even more to come.

And when Forbes Magazine recently announced their list of the "Best Places to do Business" in the United States, Minnesota ranked 8th -- up from 20th when the GOP controlled the legislature.

Most importantly, Minnesota is well positioned for long-term prosperity. Democratic leaders' historic investments in education, including universal all-day kindergarten, will continue to improve Minnesota's economic trajectory well into the future.

Meanwhile, just next door in Wisconsin, Mr. Jankowski is correct that the GOP have made the state their flagship of "bold, fiscally conservative reforms," including rolling back a law that helped women ensure they received equal pay for equal work, all while cutting taxes for corporations and raising taxes on working families.

After three and a half years of this, now the business community is weighing in, and their conclusions run completely contrary to Mr. Jankowski's claims and what the GOP desperately hopes people believe.

Forbes Magazine -- which ranked Minnesota the 8th best place to do business -- ranked Wisconsin 41st. And Forbes was not alone. This year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranked Wisconsin "44th in the nation for overall economic performance" and "dead last" in short-term job growth.

Wisconsin, under Governor Scott Walker, has typically lagged behind the rest of the nation in year-over-year job growth, and Wisconsin's unemployment rate, a full point-and-a-half lower than the national average when Walker and Co. first took over from their Democratic predecessors, is now barely half a point lower than the national average.

Under Democratic leadership, Wisconsin was an economic leader.  Now, with Republicans in charge, Wisconsin is jogging in place while the rest of the nation has caught up, and some Democratic-led states like Minnesota are beginning to accelerate away.

As Mr. Jankowski argued so persuasively last month, these two case studies do indeed show the difference a Democratic or a Republican state legislature can make.  And there are elections coming up in 2013 and 2014 in which voters can choose either of these two divergent paths.

But something tells me that if voters follow Mr. Jankowski's advice and use Wisconsin and Minnesota as examples of what each choice may bring, Democrats will prevail.

And if voters react to the nationwide government shutdown the way Minnesotans reacted when their then-Republican legislature shut down the state's government?  In that case, not even improved "operations and tactics" will save the GOP next fall.