As E.J. Dionne pointed out in The Washington Post, Walker was helped enormously by his early spending:
The pre-election polls suggested that Barrett was closing in on Walker in the final days, and he clearly was. The exit poll found that eight percent of the voters said they decided how to vote in the last few days, and they went overwhelmingly for Barrett, 69 percent to 27 percent. The rest of the electorate that decided earlier went for Walker, 55 percent to 44 percent. It’s intriguing to imagine what Barrett might have done with more money that he could have spent earlier. Money matters.
Here's some consolation: Walker lost the Senate. A Democrat, John Lehman, won a recall election against a Republican. That will make it much harder for Walker to push his anti-worker agenda.
Walker is also still under investigation.
And the battle has strengthened the labor movement. As Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said,
It's hard to recall a sitting governor, especially one with a huge spending advantage. Win or lose, tonight's results will show that grassroots organizing can hold its own against overwhelming financial advantages.
Our Teamster brothers and sisters in Wisconsin and across the nation are more active, energetic and educated because of this historic recall election.