Voters head to the polls in Wisconsin recall election
All the cards are on the table today in Wisconsin as voters head to the polls, after millions of dollars in ads and endless canvassing by activists from both sides, to cast their ballot in the recall election between Gov. Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
The recall, initiated as a response to reforms to the collective bargaining agreements with public-sector unions, has been somewhat of a headache for Wisconsin Democrats and labor unions. They’ve received little to no help from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Governors Association (DGA). And as a result of Walker’s reforms, labor unions have seen a sharp decrease in membership.
Democrats have been managing expectations in the race, indicating that they saw the writing on the wall that Walker would win, but a new poll from Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm that does polling for the Daily Kos, shows that the race may be closer than previously thought:
A Public Policy Polling survey released Monday shows Walker with the support of 50 percent of likely voters, ahead of Milwaukee Mayor Barrett at 47 percent.
But Walker’s support is down from a 50-to-45 percent edge in the same poll conducted three weeks ago and down from the 7-point 52-45 lead Walker held in a Marquette Law poll released last week.
Barrett leads Walker, however, among independent voters, with 48 percent support to 46.
Walker holds a net positive approval rating at 51 percent favorable to 47 unfavorable, topping Barrett, who posts 46 percent favorable and unfavorable numbers.
Other polls in the race show Walker leading by as many as 12 points, including the latest WeAskAmerica poll also released yesterday. The lead Walker has in the latest Public Policy Polling survey, which is within the margin of error, is the smallest he’s had since April. But there is at least some reason to take Public Policy Polling’s latest in the race with a grain of salt. As Jay Cost explains, they changed the methodology by dropping Hari Trivedi, an Independent running in the recall.
[T]he optimistic scenario that PPP posits, that turnout tomorrow will be similar to what Wisconsin saw in 2008, seems to be wildly off base if only because it is generally a universal truism that off-year and special elections have lower turnout than General Election Day in Presidential years.
The slightly ironic thing about this entire recall campaign has been the fact that the issue that supposedly animated all of the political turmoil in the Badger State, the bargaining rights of public employee unions and Walker’s reform legislation, has barely been an issue at all. Partly, this is because the Democrats ended up nominating the candidate least identified with the Labor Union’s complaints against Walker, much to the chagrin of many labor activists. This came after several big-name Democrats, including former Senator Russ Feingold and Congressman David Obey, declined to take Walker on, and it’s been followed up by national Democrats largely staying away from the race, or arguing that a Barrett loss would have no national implications, as it has become clear that Walker isn’t nearly as vulnerable as first appeared.
The only poll that matters is the one taken tomorrow. If Walker wins, it’ll be a blow to Wisconin Democrats, and, depending on the size of margain of victory, it could spell trouble for Barack Obama, who largely stayed out of the race outside of a tweet last night, in November.