Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Wisconsin closely divided, but against Walker
There are two conclusions we can make from our poll on the Wisconsin conflict: the state is very closely divided, but it leans slightly to the union side of things rather than Scott Walker's on pretty much every question we asked.
On the biggest picture question: do you side with Governor Walker or do you side with the public employee unions 51% of voters in the state go with the unions to 47% who stand with the Governor. On another broad question: do you side more with Governor Walker or with the Democrats in the state Senate, 52% of voters go with the Senate Democrats to 47% who go for Walker. And perhaps the clearest indication that Walker has lost a majority of the voters in the state in this conflict, if only a narrow majority, is that 52% of voters now disapprove of him to only 46% who like the job he's doing. Those numbers are basically the inverse of last fall's election results.
When it comes to broader questions about rights for public employees in Wisconsin the margins are less narrow. 57% of voters think that workers should have the right to collectively bargain for wages, benefits, and working environment rules compared to only 37% who think they shouldn't have those rights. And 55% of voters think that public employees should have at least the same rights they have now, if not more, compared to only 41% who believe they should have fewer rights.
Key on both of those questions about rights for public employees is that a majority of both union and non-union households stand with the workers on those issues. Union households support collective bargaining by a 70/26 margin, but non-union households do as well by a narrower 51/42 margin. Union households think public employees should have as many or more rights than they do now by a 66/32 spread, but so do non-union households by a 51/45 one.
Ultimately one of the biggest questions moving forward is whether a recall of Scott Walker would be a viable avenue for pro-union supporters. Right now it looks like it would be a 50/50 proposition. 48% of voters say they would support a recall, while 48% are opposed. That issue's about as polarized on party lines as it could possibly be- 87% of Democrats support a recall, 90% of Republicans are opposed, and independents split narrowly in favor of it by a 48/46 spread. With such a closely divided state Walker's fate would very much be determined by who could better turn their troops out- last year Democrats were asleep at the wheel and let Walker get elected but it might be a whole different story if voters in the state got a chance to do it again.