How Walker Loses in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin recall effort may look like a lost cause for the Democrats and union activists who hope to see Governor Scott Walker voted out in a couple weeks. Over at the Washington Post, Jenifer Rubin offered a piece titled "Democrats are dreading a Wisconsin wipeout." InTrade, the prediction market for anything and everything, shows Walker today with a 91 percent chance of winning

But things are hardly settled. While Walker has a clear and consistent lead in polls, that lead is relatively small—except for an outlier or two, it's been around 5 points or less. "The polling is showing margins that are either close to the margin of error or just outside the margin of error," explains Charles Franklin, a Wisconsin political scientist who's currently overseeing the Marquette Law School Poll. (His own poll showed a 6-point Walker lead.)

The stakes are high. If, after collecting more than 1 million signatures to prompt a recall, Democrats fail to oust Walker, it will give the current governor a huge boost. "If Walker wins, he claims a mandate because he will have survived this," says Franklin. "That will be ultimately his trump card." It helps, of course, that Walker has become a national cause, as Tea Party and business groups have rallied to his side. Such groups helped him raise millions in out-of-state contributions. Having spent millions more than Barrett, Walker has largely won the money battle.

Presumably, Democrats and labor activists are ready to fight tooth and nail to pull off a win. Here are the three ways they could do this:

1. Organization

Walker is polarizing, so there aren't a lot of people undecided in this race. To some extent, the recall election will be won based on which side can get more people to the polls. While conventional wisdom would have it that Democrats have an organizational advantage, Franklin's polling data shows that 91 percent of Republicans say they are "absolutely certain" to vote, compared with only 83 percent of Democrats and independents. 

Obviously the recall effort has dramatically energized the right. More than 626,000 Republicans turned out to vote for Walker in the GOP primary earlier this month. That's impressive given that Walker was an incumbent with virtually no opposition. It showed the Republicans were organized and enthused about their candidate. The Democrats had an even larger turnout, with 670,000, but that primary was hotly contested—and resulted in Barrett as the nominee. 

Of course, the anti-Walker forces have their own careful organization, borne from collecting over 1 million petitions and prompting the recall in the first place. If they can make more folks "absolutely certain" they'll vote, Walker will be in trouble.

2. Jobs

The Barrett campaign has focused on two main issues: Walker as corrupt and Walker as a failure with jobs. The corruption charges, according to Franklin, aren't likely to stick unless something dramatic occurs. While there's been a long-term John Doe investigation surrounding many close to Walker, the issue splits almost entirely along partisan lines. While the majority of voters have heard about the John Doe case, only Democrats seem to think it's a serious issue—and for the most part, they're supporting Walker anyway.

The jobs message is much more important—and has gotten more complicated than you might expect. Walker promised two years ago to create 250,000 new jobs. But in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed Wisconsin had lost almost 24,000 between 2011 and 2012—the worst numbers of any state in the country. The performance has been a key component of Barrett's message.

Walker's camp, not shockingly, have argued these figures are wrong, and touted April numbers showing a slight increase in jobs. And that's not all they've done. Last week, in a rare move, the state's workforce development secretary released quarterly Census data. The numbers are older, though they do show a 23,000 job-gain.

Barrett must not let Walker's claims take hold. So far, it seems, he's held strong. Franklin's data show 37 percent of voters believe the state lost jobs—and another 37 percent said there'sHow  been no change. Barrett may be able to squeeze in if he can convince a few more that Walker's got a bad record on jobs. It's a "salient issue," says Franklin. " If one side could seize that jobs issue and win on it, it could be very helpful."

3. Labor

Then there's the question of labor. It's no secret that Walker's anti-public employee union measures last year sparked the recall movement, as tens of thousands came out to protest. Yet there's been little mention of anything union-related during the campaign. Barrett, as I noted last week, was not the union's favorite candidate. And many assume the issue is already decided for most people—saying that talking about union issues in the general won't make anyone more likely to support Barrett.

But that's not what the polling shows. Public Policy Polling numbers showed that 39 percent of union households still plan to vote for Scott Walker. That's a stunning number given Walker's anti-union stance (most recently highlighted in his ambiguous support for "right-to-work" laws).

John Nichols, an associate editor at The Capital Times and writer for The Nation, wrote a column recently arguing in part for more emphasis on union issues:

Soft messaging by Democrats on labor issues has done them serious harm with voters in their potential base. And a failure to educate the broad mass of voters on the importance of collective bargaining to protecting middle-class wages and benefits has been equally damaging.

Republicans do not make this sort of mistake. Walker’s done massive outreach to cultural and social conservatives, and he did not hesitate, even as the recall approached, to sign controversial bills that are high on right-wing priority lists. Walker knows that a recall election in a closely divided state is about maximizing appeal to the base, not softening messages and avoiding issues.

Given there are so few undecideds and so much at stake, Democrats might want to heed his advice.

Comments

Perhaps you should try clicking your heals together three times and saying over and over "Theres no place like home". I see that having about as much success as any of your recommendations.

Bottom line is Walker is on top in this electoin because people see his reforms are working (and that his opponent, Barrett is an utter failure as mayor). It was always a reasonable request to have the public union middle class like teachers contribute to their pensions and healthcare as the non public union middle class has been doing for years. Citizens are seeing that because of Walker reforms that their communities have more dollars to save or hire teachers (and not be forced into an overpriced teacher union affilated healthcare product) and not raise taxes. Walkers reforms were always reasonable to the rational adult and now they are working and he's enjoying the spoils - good for him and I hope he has a great night next week on his Election Day.

Bottom line is Walker is on top in this electoin because people see his reforms are working (and that his opponent, Barrett is an utter failure as mayor). It was always a reasonable request to have the public union middle class like teachers contribute to their pensions and healthcare as the non public union middle class has been doing for years. Citizens are seeing that because of Walker reforms that their communities have more dollars to save or hire teachers (and not be forced into an overpriced teacher union affilated healthcare product) and not raise taxes. Walkers reforms were always reasonable to the rational adult and now they are working and he's enjoying the spoils - good for him and I hope he has a great night next week on his Election Day.

I realize this is a cheer-leading effort and not particularly substantive. But I do take exception to the 2nd point in the article. Read it carefully... it says that Democrats have been insisting there is no job growth, but admits that the quarterly census did prove there was a 23,000 gain in employment. And other sources (Ms. Rapoport omits this) that no public worker layoffs ocurred. That is the truth. Truth matters.

Ms. Rapoport suggests that the Democrats not let this --- the truth, that is --- "take hold". She cites the 37% that believe, wrongly, that state workers were fired. She cites the 37% that believe, wrongly, that there has been no increase in employment in the state. It is these groups of voters that she suggests the Democrats expand.

If the only way you can win is to expand the number of voters who are misinformed, lied to, confused and just plain wrong in their assumptions, then your philosophy is utterly bankrupt. Shame on Ms. Rapaport and shame on the public unions and Democrats who would sink to that.

*other sources establish that

You picked a stupid fight, you've realized you're going to lose it, and your response is to start making up fantasies. Yeah, that's the ticket! No wonder your site opens with a pannicked banner saying "Save the Prospect!"

The very latest "WeaskAmerica" poll shows Gov Walker with a 12 point lead. The voters in WI now realize that the corrupt alliance between the public employee unions and democrats, with their hands deep in taxpayer pockets, was destroying the state. And they can see CA and IL where the corrupt alliance is still in control. The amazing voters of WI will not vote to bring back the corruption!

AR: "It's no secret that Walker's anti-public employee union measures last year sparked the recall movement,....."

And it should be no secret that Walker's appeal is that being "anti-public employee union" is being PRO-TAXPAYERS! Thank goodness, for now, there are more WI taxpayers than shameless "public employees".

The nation's taxpayers give thanks to the "39 percent of union households (that) still plan to vote for Scott Walker.....a stunning number"! Please show up at the polls on June 2nd!

Talk about long odds! I'm afraid the author has yet to figure out just how a closer relationship can be forged between labor and Barrett within a period of two years let alone two weeks. Neither side trusts the other for two obvious reasons. Labor threw everything and the kitchen sink behind his closest primary opponent and stuck with her to the bitter end. On the other hand- and the reason for the former- Barrett embraced, as mayor of Milwaukee; the very reforms leading to the recall. In effect- at least as the rank and file sees it- supporting Barrett is the equivalent of supporting Walker: aint gonna happen. My best guess here is that Barrett will poll not much more than he did for the primary.

This election however has come to forecast larger implications. Should Romney pull out a victory over Obama in November it will be tracked back to botched party imperatives in Wisconsin at both the state and national level. I simply do not understand the lack of fire on the part of the Presidents reelection effort. Its doubtless too late to recognize this massive and strategic oversight. Electoral debacle could well ensue.

Does the author understand the corruption in Unions? It's a total scam. Unions nominate their own cronies, who in turn negotiate higher wages and benefits with taxpayer money no less, then get kickbacks through political contributions from the unions. It is a money laundering scheme. Unions negotiate exorbitant contracts, squeezing the taxpayers, and the counties go broke. Look at CA and IL. WI knows its a scam and Walker should win easily, which will bring a landslide in November, first, with the President, then the Senate. Republicans should get total control of the government in November. They better not blow it like last time.

Polling margins of error are a funny thing. Taken individually, they are relevant. The chances that any single poll is exactly representative is very small - Therefore, you need a margin of error. If you have a collection of polls, each independent, and each with a truly random sampling, then the margin of error becomes practically meaningless if the polls all agree.

In other words, the fact that each of the polls is close to the margin of error might indicate it's anyone's race. If many independent polls are close to their individual margin of error, then taken as a collection, the results are actually not even close to the real (composite) margin of error... This is not a close race.

Charles Franklin has only half of the facts here... Too bad for him, the missing facts show that his candidate is down 5+ percent - Outside of the composite margin of error.

HOW WALKER WINS IN WISCONSIN.... One vote at a time.

Wisconsin needs Walker, and he is doing a great job.

I wonder how many "dead" or illegal will vote AGAINST Walker? Fraud is the liberals/ unions middle name.

LOL, dream on libtard/progressive/union hacks. Walker is likely in the lead by a larger margin as the left leaning media distorts things like polls. Walker will win and the unions will get the smack down. Than Obama will lose the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare and in Novemeber Obama will lose worse than Jimmy Carter an he'll be sent packing.

But you can indulge yourself in self delusion until than.

4. Lie. 5. Cheat. 6. Steal the Wisconsin Way. It's all Liberals know. Liberals have no vision, no ideas, no solutions....... unless you count tax, spend, borrow, layoff as "ideas". On June 5 a Tsunami of GOP voters will make the statement: Gov Walker works for all WI citizens not just the spoiled few. By the way....coming to a community near you RIGHT TO WORK legislation for Wisconsin. Thank you Gov Walker.

There's a certain sense that the author is "whistling past the graveyard" in this article. The voters see the public employee unions as fighting to keep benefits that are far better than those enjoyed by the taxpayers, and it is hard for voters to feel sorry for someone who is complaining that their benefits are being cut when the reduced level is still greater than the average citizen enjoys. That is why the public sector unions lost the Senatorial recalls and the Supreme Court election.

This is the third bite at the apple for the public sector unions, and they should have cut their losses. People are tired of their complaining, and the world did not end with Walker's legislation. In fact, there is evidence that local governments and schools are saving a lot of money.

In short, there is no compelling reason to remove a sitting governor.

The fact that the union rights issue is not what is now being promoted as the main issue by Barrett demonstrates why Walker is leading by only 5-6 points. Even the dead know that this recall election is the result of all unions banding together to force the recall over Walkers attempt to abrogate public union bargaining rights and workers rights to withhold union dues. If Democrats made union rights the main and only plank Walker would be leading by an even wider margin. People don't like being played for fools and that's what the unions have tried to do to Wisconsin voters.

I hate to burst so many repukeblican bubbles, but the reality is that we don't have to beat Walker, we just have to castrate him. One senate seat is all it takes, and -that- is a sure thing. Deal with it, children. :)

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