Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker became the first governor in the U.S. to survive a recall election Tuesday by taking 53% of the vote over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s 46%. The recall ends a 16-month partisan fight after Walker decided to cut collective bargaining rights for most public workers in February 2011, to solve an expected budget deficit of $3.6 billion. However, a new battle is about to begin as the presidential race heats up. “Obviously, Scott Walker winning tonight means that the Republicans are here for real,” said Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee. Still, in an exit poll of voters, 18% of Walker supporters said they favored President Obama over Mitt Romney because they felt he was better equipped to repair the economy and help the middle class.