It's not entirely clear if the problem was the exit polls or the New York Times, but either way readers of the New York Times Web site got a pretty distorted view of reality in the real-time coverage of the Wisconsin recall election. At 9:39 p.m. the Times reported, "The extremely close race between Scott Walker and Tom Barrett has raised the prospect that a recount might be requested to determine the winner." At 9 p.m. the Times reported, under the headline, "Exit Polls Show Extremely Close Race as Voting Ends":
The polls have closed in Wisconsin, where early exit poll returns show a very tight race between Scott Walker, the embattled Republican governor, and his Democratic challenger, Tom Barrett.
Labor unions, which had pushed to recall Mr. Walker in the wake of his efforts to curtail collective bargaining rights for state workers, appear to have succeeded in bolstering turnout among union households.
The actual election results did not turn out to be particularly close at all, nor did they show much success for labor unions, at least public sector ones. It was a big victory for taxpayers and for a Republican governor against public sector unions in a state that President Obama carried in the 2008 election and that now looks winnable for Romney in 2012.