Turnout

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%
 WalkerBarrettUndecided
ALL VOTERS*54%42%4%
WOMEN51%44%5%
MEN57%39%4%
PUBLIC UNION HOUSEHOLDS47%50%3%
NON-PUB. UNION HOUSEHOLDS55%40%5%

*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.

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