Rock Star

NOTE: We Ask America conducted this poll on behalf of the Chicago Retail Merchants Association. The results of that poll are linked to their website are used with their permission.

You have to hand it to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He inherited a massive snarl of complex problems when he took office a year ago–the type of problems where he has to say NO to a lot of people who may deserve better, but the economic realities of the times force pragmatism over generosity. And while reality-check politics can sometimes be a pathway to discontent, Chicago voters seem to be open to his feisty, but not over-the-top approach to taking on the issues flying at the Mayor’s Office. Not everyone agrees, of course, and Emanuel’s everything-is-political attitude rubs some the wrong way.

The Chicago Retail Merchants Association–which continues to be an active player in Chicago’s political landscape–began commissioning and releasing poll results 18 months ago (during the mayoral campaign) and have continued to test the temperament of Windy City’s voters last week when they commission We Ask America to measure Emanuel’s popularity in some key areas. The results may be viewed HERE.

The poll was taken soon after the close of the NATO Summit that Chicago hosted, which left the citizens of that city feeling pretty darn good about their place in the world. Despite media hype about the potential of huge protests…usually accompanied by flashback retrospectives of the 1968 Democratic Convention riots…the Summit failed to produce the predicted blood running in the streets. And while local TV stations did their best to show skirmishes between cops and protestors, it didn’t exactly pin the needle on Chicagoans’ Shock-o-Meter. They’ve seen better fights in the stands during White Sox-Cubs inter-league games.

For all elected officials, popularity is ethereal. Bad tidings can spring up in a heartbeat, so a poll like this is only going to show you a snapshot in time.

But Mayor Emanuel ought to be smiling in this snapshot.


You have to hand it to Wisconsin’s electorate: they are passionate about their politics. When we first polled the Dairy State’s voters about Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s plummeting approval ratings, many right-leaning types let the blogosphere know how We Ask America’s minions are leaving a ring around the world’s gene pool. Not to be outdone, our May 13 poll showing Democrat Tom Barrett trailing Walker in their June 5 recall election brought out some equally interesting diatribes from a handful of left-leaning readers. Our favorite: an email suggesting that we should develop carnal relationships with rusty farm implements. The latest hub-bub died down a bit soon after when a Marquette Law School poll was released showing results within the margin of error of ours.

Despite the high emotions, its time again to ask Wisconsin voters whether they intend to retain Republican Scott Walker as their governor, or if they prefer Democrat Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett instead. We asked 1,409 likely voters that question the evening of May 23. Here’s what they said:

Poll type:: Automated Date: 5/23/2012 - Participants: 1,409 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.61%
ALL VOTERS*54%42%4%

*The head-to-head results were weighted to correct for over-/under-sampling of the gender and age bracket areas. The weighting changed the final results by less than one percentage point. 

In brief, here are the questions we asked:

  • Do you plan to vote in the June 5th election? (Negative responses were dropped)
  • If the election were held today, for whom would you vote? (Barrett/Walker options rotated)
  • Gender?
  • Age?
  • Are you or any member of your household a member of a public employee union household?

The “public union household” question was asked at the suggestion of a reader. About 17% identified themselves as a member of a public union household. Frankly, we look at this figure with a somewhat skeptical eye due to the relatively milquetoast lead Barrett has among those households. Then again, past polls have detected instances where rank-and-file union members were less passionate on issues than their leaders; the national polls on Card Check showed clearly showed that.

While Walker seems to have built on his lead, those who say this race is all about turnout make an extremely important point. Too many polls point to Walker as the choice of the electorate to slough off the numbers. But which side will have the better get-out-the-vote effort? A massive, well-organized GOTV program by Barrett’s supporters combined with enough of Walker’s supporters staying home can change everything. Of course, Walker–who has a massive fundraising edge–knows that and won’t be holding anything back. While the final results may be closer than recent poll indicate, it’s hard to see any “Dewey Defeats Truman” scenario.

In the meantime, we’ll brace ourselves for another round of imaginative suggestions from the North Woods.

Nebraska 2

Last week it looked like Nebraska Republican Attorney General Jon Bruning’s shrinking, but sizable lead in the U.S. Senate Primary might be enough to put him over the top. Then we noticed this article reporting that TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts had spearheaded a controversial set of TV ads questioning Bruning’s character while praising one of his main rivals, state legislator Deb Fischer. Word from ground forces hinted that the ads were gaining traction, so we deemed it a good reason to revisit the Cornhusker State again. The results:

Poll type:: Automated Date: 5/13//2012 - Participants: 1,109 Likely GOP voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.95%
ALL VOTERS34%4%39%3.0%18%2%
(LAST WEEK)42%3%26%4%23%2%

It would appear that Bruning has a real problem here. The ads (which calls the State Attorney General’s ethics and investment history into question) are being vehemently fought by Bruning’s campaign, although the main point of contention appears to be whether or not the Rickett-backed group illegally coordinated their messaging with the Fischer campaign. In the meantime, Fischer has been gaining ground through some key endorsements.

While this one isn’t over, Bruning now appears to be in the fight of his life.

Recall Fever

In the Midwest, it’s not easy to find a more polarizing figure than Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. In a state where bold ideas are often rewarded, Walker’s slash-and-burn rhetoric during his first months in office resulted in bringing national attention to his administration’s aggressive fiscal reforms while stirring a hornet’s nest of resentment from public unions and others who felt he went too far. Walker soon became the Poster Boy (good and bad) for partisan views fueled by an economy in a tailspin.

Although he eventually toned down the rhetoric, Wisconsin’s loopy election laws make it comparatively easy to recall a governor, so Walker now faces a rematch against his 2010 opponent, Democrat Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett. Although Barrett has done his share of head butting with unions, labor’s choice is clear: they want Walker gone, and tons of their resources are being focused on that task to help counter the money flowing into pro-Walker forces from the right.

With that in mind, what better way to celebrate Mothers Day than by asking 1,219 likely Wisconsin voters who they plan to elect on June 5? Here are the results:

Poll type:: Automated Date: 5/13//2012 - Participants: 1,219 Likely voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.81%

While other polls also show Walker in the lead, no one is suggesting that this race is anywhere near over. Walker only leads among self-described Independent voters by 47.6%-44.6%, and the underlying numbers seem fluid. Still, some of Walker’s detractors have been vocal about the fact that Walker was duly elected in 2010 and in most states would not be able to be challenged with a recall without greater cause. And a whopping 95% of those called said they plan to vote in the June 5th election which will have the national spotlight on it.

For now, that light is shining a bit brighter on Scott Walker.

Mid-America Melee

After taking some time out to move to our new headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois (many suggest the move was undertaken to put us closer to McDonald’s Hamburger University), We Ask America Polls™ is back with a look at the upcoming Nebraska GOP U.S. Senate primary. The race notched up the visibility ladder when Cornhusker Democrats convinced former Nebraska governor and senator, Bob Kerrey, to get back into the game. Despite being the target of a lot snark and snarl since his announcement, Kerrey enjoys huge name recognition and will intensify the spotlight on this race in the fall. But who will he face?

The six-way Republican primary has three main contenders:

  • State Attorney General Jon Bruning,
  • State Treasurer Don Stenberg, and
  • State Senator Deb Fischer

Sharyn Elander (whose own website has a blank biography page, investment adviser Pat Flynn, and truck driver Spencer Zimmerman round out the field.

Third-term AG Bruning has been the frontrunner from the get-go, although he has come under some sharp-edged attacks by  groups such as Club for Growth that question his conservative credentials and instead prefer State Treasurer Stenberg. Interesting…especially in light of the fact that Bruning has been endorsed by Rick Santorum and others who lean way to the right. Early polls indicated that Bruning had an advantage of 30+ points, but those ongoing attack ads continue to erode that lead. (A smallish poll released by Deb Fischer’s campaign claims Bruning is down to a nine-point lead.)

With that in mind, we asked 1,152 Nebraska Republicans who confirmed their intentions to vote in the upcoming Primary Election who they will support (we did not give them an option to say they were undecided). Here are the results:

Poll type:: Automated Date: 5/6//2012 - Participants: 1,173 Likely GOP voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.9%
ALL VOTERS42.2%3.4%25.9%4.0%22.5%2.0%

Although he’s not quite enjoying the tsunami-esque lead he had weeks ago, Bruning continues to be the comfortable frontrunner. While polls are good at telling us who people favor, Election Day turnout still rules the roost, so either Stenberg or Fischer could–theoretically–make a move.

But they better hurry, because Bruning is about to put this one away.