mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Wisconsin News Gets Worse for Dems

Wisconsin has been the source of considerable bad news for the Democratic Party of late, particularly for their union backers. First came the loss of the solidly pro-union Kathleen Falk to a more centrist opponent in the recent Democratic primary; now it appears that even this more moderate candidate is headed for a loss to Republican Scott Walker in June’s recall election.

Yet Scott Walker’s poll numbers are not the main concern for Democrats. More troubling is a recent Marquette University poll which shows Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in a statistical dead heat in Wisconsin at 46 percent each. This is no small matter. As the Wall Street Journal points out, Wisconsin has been a reliably blue state for years. Republicans last won the state in 1984. In 2008, Obama won the state by more than 13 percent, nearly double his national average of 7 percent. If Wisconsin flips into the red column, it would be a major loss of a state generally assumed to be safe for the Democrats. Even if Obama eventually wins the state, a close race there could force the party to devote resources it would have preferred to spend elsewhere.

This is only one, relatively minor poll, and it would be a mistake to read too much into it. Yet viewed in the light of Scott Walker’s recent successes in the state, it does appear that a significant shift is occurring. For decades, a strong Democratic coalition anchored by the unions made the Midwest one of the bluest regions in the country. But in Wisconsin at least the old coalition doesn’t seem to bring victory any more.

If this continues, the Democrats are in trouble.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Kenny

    Bad news for Democrats is good news for America.

  • thibaud

    Incumbents generally are in trouble because of the weakness of the recovery.

    The polls show again and again that most voters, regardless of subgroup (with the exception of afr-amers, for obvious reasons), recognize that the economy’s not getting better and have little faith in _either_ party’s ability to turn things around.

    Were one party or the other to make a serious effort to break up the TBTF banks – as opposed to coddling them and helping them and their shareholders to avoid writing down their assets to their real values – then you’d see a big shift, IMO, in public opinion toward that party.

    But it’s not happening. Romney’s obvious skill and expertise will not help him much so long as he offers nothing in the way of useful or bold ideas about fixing our broken banking sector and getting the housing market functioning properly again.

    Romney’s only comments on the latter have been a Hoover-like insistence that there’s nothing at all wrong with the status quo ie one-quarter to a third of homeowners being underwater, banks not making loans to creditworthy borrowers, household spending being crushed by the above + inability of people to relocate and fill jobs outside their immediate area etc etc.

  • nerdbert

    Union membership is quite down in Wisconsin, especially in the private sector. In the public sector I hear the rate of voluntary contributions for AFSCME is now about 20%, meaning the vast majority of even public employee members don’t view union membership as being worth the money.

    As an example, my neighbor is a teacher and is tepid on unions. Walker’s reforms “cost her money” that she has to contribute to her pension, but given that she’s no longer contributing to the union her paycheck actually increased slightly. So she’s conflicted on the overall impact.

  • Randy

    Proverbial tip of the iceberg, Dr. M! Wait ’til folks hear about what The One has in store for their electric bills.

  • Corlyss

    Looks like the only thing left in the Walker contest, barring a typical Democratic massive vote-stealing/ballotbox-stuffing/dead-people-voting effort is the size of the defeat.

  • Mark Michael

    John Fund has a post at NRO about Wisconsin & the recall:

    A few quotes:

    “One reason for the brightening economic picture in Wisconsin is that county and city governments, along with school boards, have been able to take advantage of the collective-bargaining reforms and cost-cutting tools that Walker’s reforms handed them.

    “Take Milwaukee, where Barrett is the mayor. Even he has acknowledged that the reforms in Act 10, Walker’s early 2011 budget-repair bill, enabled his city government to balance its budget. Walker’s cuts in state aid to the city cost it $14 million, but it was able to come up with $30 million in savings, of which two-thirds came from the budget-repair law. The law required employees to pay a larger share of their insurance premiums, and it also made it easier for the city of Milwaukee to switch to more cost-efficient health-insurance plans.”

    A 2nd quote:

    “Now a new study by the Beacon Hill Institute, a public-policy think tank based at Boston’s Suffolk University, has quantified just what the savings have meant for the economy. Its economic simulation found that Act 10 has reduced the tax burden Wisconsin residents would have had to pay by nearly a billion dollars. The ability to avoid those tax increases had positive economic effects. ‘The Act has saved between 15,400 and 20,500 public and private jobs that would otherwise have been lost,’ the report concluded. ‘[It also saved] between $185 million and $350 million annually in private investment and between $760 and $1.030 billion in real disposable income.’”

  • Kris

    It’s almost enough to get one to speculate that temper tantrums are not the best way to win friends and influence people.

  • Mark Michael

    The bad news for Wisconsin D’s keeps rolling in: A new poll puts Walker ahead of Barrett 50 – 42. See:

    It’s of likely voters for the June 5th recall election. IMO the biggest issue for professional D’s and the Professional Left is the loss of government union dues that is occurring in Wisconsin. The Act 10 Budget Repair Bill eliminated the mandatory deduction of those dues from the paychecks of state workers. Another commenter said that only 20% of workers were choosing to continue to have dues deducted.

    I suspect that 20% is too high, at least for the long run. It will sink to less than 5% over time. That will reduce the D Party warchest substantially. That’s the real issue that has the D Party in such an uproar.

    Recall the old Left saying, “The issue is never the issue” for the Left.

    They claimed the issue was “preserving the middle class” and “preserving the quality of public education and public services” in their TV ads. But the real issues were preserving their salaries and the forced contributions to the union leaders and then on to the D Party coffers.

    If this happens nationwide, the D Party could lose as much as several hundred million dollars per election cycle.

  • thibaud

    Um, guys? What are you talking about? The latest polls show Obama comfortably ahead, by 6 points.

    The RCP average for the period May 9-22 shows Obama up by 2.8%.

    In no period during the past 3 months has Obama ever trailed Romney in Wisconsin.

    Every single Wisconsin poll tracked by RCP but one shows Obama ahead, and that poll showed him tied.

    Poll Date Obama (D) Romney (R) Spread

    RCP Average 5/9 – 5/22 47.8 45.0 Obama +2.8

    WPR/St. Norbert 5/17 – 5/22 406 Likely Voters (LV) O:49 R:43 Obama +6

    Daily Kos/PPP (D) 5/11 – 5/13 851 RV 47 46 Obama +1

    Marquette University 5/9 – 5/12 600 LV 46 46 Tie

    Rasmussen Reports 5/9 – 5/9 500 LV 49 45 Obama +4

    Marquette University 4/26 – 4/29 705 RV 51 42 Obama +9

    Daily Kos/PPP (D) 4/13 – 4/15 1136 LV 50 44 Obama +6

    Rasmussen Reports 3/27 – 3/27 500 LV 52 41 Obama +11

    NBC News/Marist 3/26 – 3/27 1391 RV 52 35 Obama +17

    Marquette University 3/22 – 3/25 707 RV 48 43 Obama +5

    Rasmussen Reports 2/27 – 2/27 500 LV 47 42 Obama +5

    PPP (D) 2/23 – 2/26 900 RV 53 39 Obama +14

    Marquette University 2/16 – 2/19 716 RV 53 38 Obama +15

    Sorry to rain on the parade here, but you need a dose of the reality principle. Not even Karl Rove expects Romney to have any shot at taking Wisconsin.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service