The winds of change are blowing against Walker
After months of barely moving numbers — mostly because there weren’t many to look at — a recent poll by The Wisconsin Public Radio/St. Norbert College Survey shows that 58 percent of respondents believe Governor Walker should be recalled from office. That compares with 47 percent who felt that way in April. It’s a huge move and it’s going in the wrong direction for Walker and the Wisconsin GOP.
While it’s only one poll and there is a lot of time between now and a recall election next spring, the numbers bode well for the ability of the Recall Walker effort to gather the necessary signatures and bring the Walker administration down. It also shows that the current trend is their friend.
I’ve seen commentary that attempts to dismiss the WPR/St. Norbert Survey as biased, but it’s been around for a long time and there is nothing in it for the sponsors to be anything less than accurate. In October 2010, for example, the survey correctly pointed to Walker’s victory the following month, with the economy and jobs being the most important single factor influencing the respondents.
Now, Walker has disapproval ratings far exceeding Obama’s in Wisconsin, with a full 58 percent disapproving of the governor and most of that number strongly disapproving – 15 points higher on the disapproval side for the guv than for the President. A full 52 percent think Wisconsin is headed in the wrong direction – only marginally different than the spring 2009 survey and only a two-point improvement since spring 2011.
But the most telling set of numbers: 58 percent favor removing Walker from office now, compared to only 38 percent who prefer keeping him in office. This yawning 20 percent spread compares to a marginal 47 percent favoring removal from office and 48 percent who preferred retaining Walker in office last spring. If you think that doesn’t leave much room for undecideds, you’re right.
In short, a little more than a year after his election and 10 months into his term, Scott Walker – with GOP majorities in both houses of the Wisconsin legislature — is in a lot of trouble. While it wasn’t part of the latest survey, the economy and jobs will remain the single most important issue from now through the eventual recall election. Three secretaries of the Department of Workforce Development later, it has not been a bright spot for Walker’s administration. Hundreds of millions of dollars in discretionary income have been removed from local economies around the state by Walker’s budget and it will continue to hinder job growth.
Over the next few months, supporters of the governor will pour tens of millions of dollars on a political fire that is being fanned by thousands of opposition foot soldiers. In spite of representations to the contrary, most school districts and local governments aren’t winning with Walker’s plan, nor are all the budget cuts resulting in lower taxes for most people in Wisconsin. An unresolved FBI investigation still hangs over some of the governor’s close associates. Ohio’s recent vote showed that the kind of stuff Walker and the GOP are doing in Wisconsin to overreach and attack labor probably isn’t supported by most people. With a 20-point spread already favoring his removal from office and significant negative momentum against the governor well established, it could well prove too much of a headwind to overcome when Wisconsin’s jaded, ID-carrying electorate finally heads to the polls.
Fall 2011 WPR/St. Norbert Survey:
Scott Walker dismisses St. Norbert poll; Politifact says “False”: