Gender Gap

Earlier this year, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) helped embed that state on the watch list of most national political pundits when he took on public-employee unions. More accurately, it was HOW he did it that seemed to make  the difference. In what he now admits was a brash and confrontational manner, his actions helped the Dairy State become a hotbed of protests, counter-protests, shrill TV ads and general political mayhem. His actions resulted in both a balanced budget and deeply carved lines of demarcation in that state’s political psyche. We polled the state three separate times concerning the controversy in February and March (click HERE for the first, HERE for second, or HERE for the third)–all of which showed Walker and his policies in negative numbers.

The main reason Wisconsin’s reaction to Walker is important to us is that state’s strange (some would say progressive) recall laws that make it remarkably easy to challenge a sitting public official. Currently, the State Senate recall elections are popping up–they don’t all occur on the same day, sort of like playing Whack-a-Mole on a chunk of Wisconsin Swiss cheese. So far, Democrats look strong. (For an overview of the recalls, visit Talking Points Memo HERE.) Walker has tried his hand at damage control as of late, appearing on a number of TV & radio talk shows offering mea culpas concerning the manner and harshness in which he went about his quest. Undoubtedly, his timing was meant to not only help those who are now being challenged with recall votes, but also guard against the potential of his own recall.

For those and other reasons, we’ve dipped back into Wisconsin to ask the good folks there what they think about Gov. Walker these days. For good measure, we also asked for their opinion of President Obama. Here’s the main question we asked:

[box] In general, do you APPROVE or DISAPPROVE of the job Governor Scott Walker is doing? [/box]

A similarly worded question was asked about the President as well along with demographic inquiries. Here are the results:
[For a PDF version of the poll results, click HERE.]

Type of Poll: Automated
Date of Poll: 7/24/2011
Participants: 1,300 Wisconsin residents
Margin of Error: ±2.72%
Scott Walker45.15%52.62%3.92%
By Gender
By Political I.D.
Barack Obama48.08%48.00%3.92%
By Gender
By Political I.D.

As we’ve seen before, there are few sitting on the public-opinion sidelines when it comes to Walker or the president. However, there appears to be a pronounced gender gap, with men siding more for Walker and against Obama. This gap is wider than we’ve witnessed in presidential approval ratings in other states–but Wisconsin has always marched to it’s own drum beat. In past privately conducted Wisconsin-based polls, we’ve seen men’s shift of opinion precede those by  women, but there have been some exceptions to that trend so it is unclear that will happen here. Locals at least partially attribute the continued bad numbers among females to the governor’s war with unions representing teachers. Again, Walker’s strident manner during the loudest moments of the public debate clearly has left residual negative feelings. Still, the Wisconsin state budget was balanced and the structural deficit was addressed, giving the smaller-government aficionados something to admire.

Perhaps more telling is a subtle improvement for Walker by Independents. Last March, Independents offered a 44/54 approve/disapprove ratio for the governor. Today, Walker has pulled even with this all-important sector. However, the recall elections are happening NOW, and the improvement in Walker’s approval ratings may be too late to help anyone but the governor himself.

Home Sweet Home

Independence Day marks the beginning of a new season for the polling trolls at We Ask America, and we begin with a statewide approval poll on President Barack Obama in his home state (and ours), Illinois. Around here, any approval poll of the president has as it’s main focus one primary target: understanding the effect the presidential election could have on the new congressional districts.

Illinois’ congressional redistricting results this year have raised more than a few eyebrows among political pundits. Depending which side you’re on, it is either a work of art…or a splenectomy without anesthesia.

The Land of Lincoln lost one seat (from 19 members down to 18) in reapportionment, and Republicans currently hold an 11-8 edge. They had great success last year in defeating fairly weak Blue Dogs, but also won victories in the 8th District (Republican Joe Walsh was victorious in a squeaker over Democrat Melissa Bean), and in the 17th (Bobby Schilling soundly beat Democrat Phil Hare). But Democrats hold every high trump card in Illinois’ redistricting game, so if the new map stands, the mix will undoubtedly change. (Rather than going into great detail about the new map, I urge you to read Sean Trende’s excellent article in Real Clear Politics HERE.)

Republicans, who quickly raised the cash for a legal challenge to the remap (still unresolved), must also contend with the fact that Illinois’ native son will once again be on the ballot–leading many to fear the worse. However, lingering unemployment, a stagnant (at best) economy, and high gas prices have a habit of eroding a president’s popularity, even in his home state. Right?

We asked 1,272 Illinois voters how they thought President Obama was doing with this simple question:

[box] In general, do you APPROVE or DISAPPROVE of the job Barack Obama is doing as president?[/box]

Here’s how they responded:

Type of Poll: Automated
Date of Poll: 7/5/2011
Participants: 1,272 Illinois voters
Margin of Error: ±2.75%

Here are the crosstabs:

[box type=”info”] For those unfamiliar with Illinois, Chicago and Suburban Cook County comprise about 40% of the voting public, with the “Collar Counties”  (DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Will) and Downstate comprising the remaining 60 percent.[/box]

Sub. Cook61%36%2%

These numbers can undoubted be interpreted by whichever ideological spin is applied. Democrats will see that the President remains hugely popular in his native Chicago, while GOPers will point to his fading popularity in areas where he upset the apple cart in 2008…particularly in the Collar Counties. And there’s lots of time for the economy to improve…or go down hill.

But for now, President Obama has to be looking back to Chicago as Home, Sweet Home.