There is yet another sign that Winconsin Gov. Scott Walker may be poised to win his political war to deep public union collective bargaining in Wisconsin — but he (and his party) may be losing the wear. Even among some GOPers.
A new Rasmussen poll shows Walker’s approval rating is quickly shrinking and that Republicans may also be turning off young marrieds who have kids in schools. Not a good sign for Walker, the Wisconsin GOP or the branding of the GOP nationally. The poll lends credence to the likelihood that Republicans could be in the beginning of a process where the party is turning off independent voters, mobilizing and unifying the Democratic party base and further alienating the smaller number of more moderate Republicans in Wisconsin and elsewhere:
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won his job last November with 52% of the vote, but his popularity has slipped since then.
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Wisconsin Voters finds that just 34% Strongly Approve of the job he is doing, while 48% Strongly Disapprove. Overall, including those who somewhat approve or disapprove, the new Republican governor earns positive reviews from 43% and negative reviews from 57% of voters statewide.
In addition to the usual partisan and demographic breakdowns, it’s interesting to note that Walker, now engaged in a budget battle with unionized state workers, receives a total approval rating of 46% from households with private sector union members.
However, among households with a public sector union member, only 19% offer their approval. Among all other households in the state, opinion is nearly evenly divided—49% favorable and 51% unfavorable.
In other words: he is turning some voters who might not be militantly against the GOP and willing to give the party’s ideas a chance against him …and his party. MORE:
It’s also interesting to note that among households with children in the public school system, only 32% approve of the governor’s performance. Sixty-seven percent (67%) disapprove, including 54% who Strongly Disapprove.
That’s a devastating figure for Republicans because these are younger voters. And it means kids will be raised in households where parents are not just not Republican supporters but active opponents.
This may be partly due to the fact that 77% of Wisconsin voters have a favorable opinion of the state’s public school teachers. However, only 50% have a favorable opinion of the teachers’ union.
Meanwhile, there are signs these polls have started to alarm Republicans who now have several choices: a)stick with the strategy that hurting them at the polls since backtracking won’t look good (possible), b)find a way to compromise (increasingly unlikely but possible) and c)complete shift position (highly unlikely).
If it’s a or b it means no matter what Walker and Republicans are going to take a hit. The Wall Street Journal’s Politicial Opinon blog:
Conservatives in Wisconsin are getting nervous that three Republican state senators may defect on the collective-bargaining reform vote. It’s still anyone’s guess as to when that vote will take place because Democrats remain in exile to prevent the necessary quorum. But Republicans in the Senate hold a 19-14 majority, so GOP Gov. Scott Walker can afford to lose no more than two Republican senators on this pivotal vote.
On Wednesday, Republicans held a “unity” press conference that was attended by all but one senator, Dale Schultz. But a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showing that 62% of respondents oppose curtailing collective-bargaining rights for public-sector workers over health care, pensions or other benefits suggests that the GOP position may be losing some support among independent voters. Meanwhile, the unions have turned up the heat by launching recall efforts against at least five of the GOP senators.
Conservative groups have initiated recalls against five of the missing 14 Democratic senators.
But don’t expect to see a major shift:
“Republicans can’t turn back in Wisconsin,” says Mark Mix of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This will only embolden the unions and weaken efforts at reform all over the country.” It’s foolish to believe that backing down will satisfy the unions. If history is any guide, more than 90% of union money will be used to defeat Republicans no matter what happens.
But there are two points worth making. The first is that the drumbeat of polls showing strong opposition to Walker’s rollback of bargaining rights may be starting to shift the landscape. The Journal report hints that Repubicans are growing nervous about opposition to Walker’s proposals among independents. The key here is that public opinion on this standoff has caught a lot of people off guard.
Also: If the reports above are true, that could bear out the notion, articulated to me earlier today by a spokesman for the Wisconsin Democratic Party, that Republicans are well aware that Walker’s impending layoffs could damage them more than Dems. Walker told the fake Koch on the prank call that he would be ratcheting up the layoff threat to pressure missing Dems into returning. But Dems are refusing to budge despite the fact that the layoff threat is now very real. And there are indications that the layoffs could exacerbate the current public opinion dynamic, rather than turn it around. That may well be spooking Republicans who continue to stand by Walker.
UPDATE, 4:41 p.m.: I should have added that the drive to recall GOP senators has also picked up in the last few days. So you have pressure on numerous fronts.
When you see a press narrative, live TV pictures and polls coming together to create one image it is very difficult for one force or infooutlet to turn it around. This could be a case where talk show hosts, Fox News, and partisan internet writers are unable to stem a growing perception that is seeping into public opinion..and quickly. So does the GOP try to shift, ram it through even faster, or cut its losses? Will Scott Walker turn out to be more like the 1990s over-reaching Newt Gingrich and not like his hero Ronald Reagan (who compromised and worked with the opposing party by the way)?