As it is this blog’s second year, we are now looking at our second recap, and the number are pretty impressive. In 2012, there were at least 168 recalls in 93 different jurisdictions. Here’s my article in The Week examining the phenomena. This is an increase from last year, when there were 151 recalls. This year, I also compiled a list of how many times recall petitions were reported to have been taken out — 509 times. There were also numerous reported recall threats, but I never saw a follow-through, so I didn’t include those. I should point out that I am fairly certain that there are almost certainly recalls that I missed, so the 168/509 numbers should be seen as a floor, rather than a ceiling.
Despite the fact that the single most noteworthy recall — Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker — failed to remove the official, as a whole, the recalls were extremely successful. 108 officials were bounced, with 82 being kicked out, and 26 resigning before the recall took place. As I pointed out last year, this fact is especially striking compared to the fact that the incumbent reelection rate in the US is at least over 75%.
To answer the biggest question I receive, I do not breakdown the recalls by party. This is simply because most of the recalls are on the local level, where the position is elected on a nonpartisan basis, and it is not readily apparent which party the official belongs to. Additionally, when there is a partisan position, the party label is frequently a misleading way of judging the recall, as many are not based on D v. R partisan motivations.
If you would look at the history, especially at the state legislative level where party is most obvious, you would see both parties are not shy about using recalls (for example of the 14 state legislative recalls from 1981-2008, most were launched against Democrats, and ethics played very little role in those recalls).