Tag Archives: recall

Walker and Obama

Back in June, before the recall election, I argued against the view that a Walker victory spelled trouble for Obama’s re-election campaign in Wisconsin:

“if Walker actually wins by 7, it means there’s no massive shift to the GOP going on in this state, and you’re a broadly popular incumbent President whose hometown is within a half-day’s drive of most of Wisconsin’s population, your prospects here are pretty good…..

In 2010, Walker won as a non-incumbent in a regular election. If he gets the same margin against the same opponent, as a sitting governor, in a recall that not all Democrats think should have happened, I take that as a signal that the state of the electorate has shifted back to something like normal,, from the abnormally Democratic year of 2008 and the abnormally Republican year of 2010.”

In fact, Walker did win by 7.  And I think my assessment of what that meant for the November electorate is looking pretty good!

 

 

 

 

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It’s a recall, not an omen

Already time to take back, or at least complicate, the nice things I said about the Times’s Wisconsin coverage.  Today above the fold:

Broadly, the results will be held up as an omen for the presidential race in the fall, specifically for President Obama’s chances of capturing this Midwestern battleground — one that he easily won in 2008 but that Republicans nearly swept in the midterm elections of 2010…

A Marquette Law School telephone poll of 600 likely voters, conducted last week, found Mr. Walker leading 52 percent to 45 percent; the poll’s margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points for each candidate.

I suppose I can’t deny that the results “will be held up as” an omen for November’s election by some people.  But those people will be wrong, and the Times should say so.  At the very least they should avoid giving the impression that the recall vote is likely to be predictive of the presidential vote, an assertion for which they give no evidence, not even a quote in support.

I’m just going to repeat what I said in the last post.  Wisconsin is split half and half between Republicans and Democrats.  In nationally favorable Democratic environments (2008) the state votes Democratic.  In nationally favorable Republican environments (2010) the state votes Republican.  At this moment, there’s no national partisan wave, and you can expect Wisconsin elections to be close.  But incumbency is an advantage.  So Walker is winning, and so is Obama. As the Times reports, the Marquette poll has him up 7.  What the Times doesn’t report is that the very same poll has Obama beating Romney by 8.

I guess the recall might be an omen after all — if Walker actually wins by 7, it means there’s no massive shift to the GOP going on in this state, and you’re a broadly popular incumbent President whose hometown is within a half-day’s drive of most of Wisconsin’s population, your prospects here are pretty good.

Arguing against myself:  2006 was also a great year for Democrats nationally, and incumbent Democratic governor Jim Doyle beat Mark Green by only 7.

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Why Walker is winning

I tend to agree with Nate Silver, who thinks a victory by Tom Barrett in Tuesday’s recall election is fairly unlikely.  The Times’s coverage of Wisconsin politics has gotten a lot better since last February’s Capitol protests.  The NYTimes Mag feature from last Sunday is well-reported and well-written and told me some things I didn’t know.  But throughout there’s an air of puzzlement about the governor’s continued political viability that doesn’t seem warranted to me.

The feature is heavy on interviews with experienced Wisconsin political hands, both Democrats and Republicans, who are dejected about the Walker style of government and what it’s done to the state’s political culture.  I can easily imagine that it’s a depressing time to be a state legislator (and a downright dangerous time to be a Supreme Court justice) whatever party you belong to.

But I think the average Republican voter here likes Scott Walker just fine.  They like stripping collective bargaining rights just fine, and they like voter ID just fine.   And Republican voters make up half the population of Wisconsin.  Normal politics here is 5o-50; throw in the advantages of incumbency and whatever proportion of the voters disapprove of recalls on principle, and Barrett has a built-in disadvantage to overcome.  (That’s not even to mention the massive spending disparity in Walker’s favor.)  A Walker victory wouldn’t be very notable; what’s notable is the fact that a million recall petitions were signed in the first place, or that an unknown Madison judge came within a hairsbreadth of unseating an incumbent Supreme Court Justice.

That being said, the error bar here is pretty wide; not the sampling error in the polls, but the intrinsic uncertainty about who’s going to show up and vote in an election with no historic precedent.  Wisconsin Democrats surprised me and everybody else by getting a million recall petitions signed; maybe they’ll surprise me and everybody else by organizing a massive turnout on June 5.

And Barrett fans can take some comfort in the fact that I’ve been consistently wrong in every prediction I’ve made about Wisconsin politics.

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No good news for Wisconsin Democrats in the first Marquette Law Poll

My colleague Charles Franklin is running a year-long project at Marquette Law School to poll the heck out of Wisconsin in what will surely be a very interesting political environment.  The first poll is out, and it can’t be making Wisconsin Democrats very happy.  Full results here.  All potential recall challengers trail the Governor, though not by much, and the public is either positive or neutral about the most visible parts of Walker’s legislative plan (higher fees for state workers, voter ID, curtailing of collective bargaining.)  Majorities think that Walker’s program will increase jobs in the state and is “better off in the long run” for Wisconsin.  Cutting funding to public schools and BadgerCare, on the other hand, is deeply unpopular, and presumably those issues will play a big role in the recall campaign.  The Governor has access to a titanic amount of money from out of state, and will make sure people here don’t miss out on hearing his point of view.  His opponents may rise in the polls as they gain statewide name recognition, but it’s hard to see in the numbers a huge “anybody but Walker” sentiment.  On top of all that, Tommy Thompson, the only really popular Republican in the state, is going to be back on the campaign trail running for Senate.

The election is a long way away, but Democrats have to be seen as starting from behind.

My guess is that they have a better chance of capturing the State Senate (though I’m told that if Van Wanggard is tossed, his Democratic replacement has less than a year before being redistricted into an election they’re almost sure to lose.)  I wonder when Marquette starts polling the senate races?

(Note:  I was surprised to see that 43% of Marquette’s sample identified as “independent” — but it turns out that 40% of all Americans now give their party ID as independent, the highest proportion Gallup has ever recorded.)

Despite the title I should include the one piece of good news for Democrats; the President remains popular here and seems at the moment to be well ahead of any potential opponent.

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Are Wisconsin Democrats blowing the recalls?

That might seem like a strange question, given that United Wisconsin claims it already has the 500,000+ signatures they need to force a recall election this spring, and are aiming for a million by the end of the 60-day petition period next month.

But the Walker-Kleefisch recall isn’t the only one going.  Petitions are circulating on five state senators — four Republicans and one Democrat.  Democratic gains in the last recall left the GOP with a precarious 17-16 majority in the upper chamber.  So if Democrats gain one seat, they take over Senate control.

There’s a big difference between this recall election and the previous one.  The state senators recalled last year were elected in 2008, a year of Democratic dominance;  the Republicans who managed to get elected that year were strong candidates in Republican-leaning districts.  And even so, two lost their seats.  This time around, it’s the opposite.  Van Wanggard, Pam Galloway, and Terry Moulton all knocked off Democratic incumbents in the 2010 Republican sweep; and even with that wind at their back, Wanggard and Galloway each won by modest 5-point margins.  There’s every reason to think those two, at least, would be vulnerable to Democratic challengers.

So why aren’t Wisconsin Democrats putting more resources into these races?  The Van Wanggard recall has just about reached the required number of signatures, but will need a lot more to be safe from legal challenges.  Pam Galloway’s petition is only 70% there.  And with Christmas and New Year’s coming, the second month isn’t likely to be as productive as the first.  Per the linked Isthmus article, none of the recall committees has more than $7,000 on hand.  Why?

I get that the Walker recall is the main event.  But with no obvious candidate to oppose the governor, the recall election is at best a coinflip for Democrats.  Maybe the state senate recalls are a coinflip, too:  but changing control of either one would effectively halt Wisconsin’s ability to make meaningful legislative changes.  For Wisconsin Democrats, that would be a huge success.  And one coinflip out of two  is a much easier game to win than one out of one.

And some good news for people who like poll news:  my colleague Charles Franklin, who knows more about polling data than anyone I’ve ever met, is taking a year’s leave of absence from UW to poll the hell out of Wisconsin in 2012 as head of a new project at Marquette Law.  Expect lots of posts here about his sweet crunchy data.

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Scott Walker: not toast

Much was made of the WPR/St. Norbert poll released last week, in which 58% of respondents said they’d vote for Scott Walker’s opponent if a recall comes to pass, with only 38% saying they’d vote to keep the Governor in office.  Worth noting the numbers below the top line, though:  in the sample of 482 voters, 34% reported voting for JoAnne Kloppenburg in April’s Supreme Court election, against 27% who said they voted for Prosser.  In fact, those votes were evenly split.  So it’s way, way, way too soon to say that Walker’s behind in a potential recall election, especially with Wisconsin D’s still in search of a candidate.

(Another interesting result from that poll:  people in Wisconsin apparently really like electing their Supreme Court, and in fact would prefer that the prospective justice’s party affiliation be listed on the ballot!)

 

 

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What If… Wisconsin were Ohio?

Last year Ohio governor John Kasich passed a law restricting collective bargaining for state employees, much like the one we have here in Wisconsin — whether because Kasich is a defter political operator than Scott Walker or because Columbus and Madison are not very similar, he got SB 5 passed with substantially less hubbub than we had here in WI.

There’s another difference between Wisconsin and Ohio.  The Wisconsin constitution allows for recall of sitting elected officials; the Ohio constitution doesn’t.  But Ohio is one of 24 states were a popular referendum can overturn a statute passed by the state legislature.  Wisconsin is not.

Ohio voters go to the polls today to decide whether Kasich’s law stays on the books.  Polls suggest Kasich is headed for defeat, though polling on ballot referenda are generally considered less reliable than election surveys.  The Walker recall, meanwhile, is said to have a higher hill to climb, especially given Russ Feingold’s decision not to jump in.

What if Walker’s State Bill 11, instead of Walker himself, were facing recall by Wisconsin voters?  Would it be more or less likely to survive?

On one hand, I think there’s likely to be a substantial body of voters who oppose SB 11, and who will vote for a Democrat in the next regular election, but who think recalls should be reserved for criminal or at least plainly unethical conduct.  On the other hand, I think there are plenty of people who dislike Walker but also don’t care very much about collective bargaining, and might not show up for a referendum vote:  during the State Senate recall elections this spring, the dominant campaign theme for Democrats was not “restore collective bargaining” but “Scott Walker is a bad guy who wants to defund your school and fire station.”

(Speaking of the State Senate recalls — the GOP is now down to a one-vote majority in the chamber, and for all intents and purposes that vote belongs to centrist Sen. Dale Schultz of Richland Center.  Schultz crossed party lines last week to keep the new Republican-drawn district boundaries from going into effect a year early.  The measure was expected to help Republican incumbents defend against a new wave of legislative recall elections in 2012.)

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Absentee ballot non-hijinx in the Wisconsin recalls

I’m in the Atlantic today talking about the charges that GOP-linked groups sent Democratic voters absentee ballot applications with the wrong due date, in order to trick them into missing the election.  It can’t be denied there’s been a lot of sleaze and bad acting in this election, but I think this one was an honest mistake.  The anti-Fred Clark ad Wisconsin Family Action is running, on the other hand, is vile.

 

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We ask America and America tells us something unreasonably precise

The latest Wisconsin poll from We Ask America doesn’t tell us anything new.  Scott Walker remains unpopular, but not Rick Scott unpopular.  I bring it up the new polling only to object to the decision to report the results with two digits after the decimal point.  Nothing is gained by telling us that 45.15% of a 1300-person sample approves of Walker’s governorship.  Nor does it help matters to warn of the 2.72% margin of error.

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Recall petition hijinx

I know what you’ve been thinking — what happened to the blog’s obsession with bizarro Wisconsin politics?  Don’t worry, things haven’t settled down here.  It now appears that nine senators, six Republicans and three Democrats, will face recall elections this summer.  There’s one hitch, though:  Democrats say that the petitions for recall of the Dem senators are filled with fake signatures copied from phone books, including one from the father of Democratic State Representative Marc Pocan.  Not to say that dad’s can’t disagree with their sons politically — but the senior Pocan died in 1991.  He’s still in the phone book, though — and he’s still in the books as a signature for recall.

The recall petitions are all scanned and online, in case you want to do your own detective work.  For instance, I might want someone to take a second look at page 2505 of the petitions to recall Jim Holperin from Senate District 12, which has just two signatures, both illegible, gathered on April 1; scrawled across the whole page is a message that appears to say “F**K SCOTT WALKER AND ABORTION.”

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