Lots of things going on this week, many of them unpleasant. Forgive me for keeping it (relatively) brief again.

In the wake of bin Laden mania a lot of other news has fallen by the wayside, and I think more attention should be paid to the result of the special state legislative election in Wisconsin's 94th Assembly district. It's not often that an off-year special election for a vacant seat in the state house merits discussion, but given the recent events in Wisconsin it is worth noting that Democrat Steve Doyle won a seat held by Republicans since 1994.

My first reaction to The Walker Plan earlier this year was "Well I guess whoever the GOP nominates in 2012 can forget about Wisconsin." Wisconsonites are hard to rile but a mass of energy once riled (Minnesotans fit that description as well, for the record). Anything other than a strong backlash against Republicans in next year in Wisconsin will be a real surprise. The special election result and the increasing momentum of the efforts to recall Republican Senators support the argument, although as always we should be careful to note that much can change between now and November 2012. For the sake of argument, however, let's assume for a moment that Wisconsin is indeed a dead zone for Republicans in 2012. Adding it to the list of states that no moderately informed observer believes Obama (or any Democratic presidential candidate for that matter) can lose, we get:

242 Electoral Votes

That would mean Obama starts from a position where adding one additional state could be enough to secure victory. Granted, the states he would need to get over 270 are all tough battlegrounds – Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, etc. – but a potential Republican challenger would have to be intimidated by the idea that Obama begins the race within spitting distance of 270 barring a complete meltdown of some kind. Maybe that is why a GOP primary debate scheduled for May 2 had to be rescheduled to Sept. 14 due to lack of confirmed candidates. Except for the ones who have no chance of winning (Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, etc.) candidates have been hesitant to make things official. It doesn't mean Obama is a shoo-in, but you can bet that a lot more candidates would be "in" at this point if they expected a race against Obama to be easy – or anything short of a long struggle with long odds.