Treading Water

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker has been a lighting rod since first being elected in 2010. Walker’s take-no-prisoner persona early in his first term exacerbated the polarizing reforms he promoted and muscled through the state legislature. The subsequent highly charged political atmosphere led to a hard-fought recall election which Walker won handily.  In speeches, Walker continues to  somewhat rue his role in the rhetoric that dominated the period and has become a sought-after speaker for pro-smaller government and business groups around the country. In a recent event in Illinois where Walker was the keynote speaker, the crowd — which was made up of business types who are accustomed to oceans of state government red ink — literally gasped when Walker touted turning Wisconsin’s big deficit into a tidy surplus.

But everyone likes other states’ leaders, and Walker isn’t traveling the nation to talk about the things that aren’t working so well for the state. His opponent will cherry pick statistics that paint a gloomy picture of Wisconsin (for example, employment numbers aren’t great), but Walker’s successes are viewed by many as genuine and he’s good at projecting the glass as half full.

Clearly, the effect of Walker’s reforms and accomplishments will not be fully measured before next year’s election. With Wisconsin’s economy viewed as “treading water” and the discontent from last year’s political wars still fresh in the minds of voters, how will the public view Scott Walker now?

As with all governors in this series of polls, we asked likely Wisconsin voters a straightforward and simply worded question: “Do you approve or disapprove of the job Governor Scott Walker is doing?”

Here are the results:


Poll type: Automated - Date: May 8-9, 2013 - Participants: 1,081 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 3.1%
 ApproveDisapproveNeutral/Uncertain
43.50%53.91%2.59%
BY GENDER************
Female41.42%56.39%2.19%
Male47.31%48.71%3.97%
BY PARTY ID************
Republicans86.88%12.41%0.70%
Democrats9.00%88.00%3.00%
Independents40.46%55.27%4.28%

As we pointed out in yesterday’s initial poll in in this series, these approval ratings are probably as much a measure of voters’ opinion of state government as a guide to re-electability. Gov. Walker’s overall approval rating now is nearly identical to what we saw in July, 2011 although he seems to have lost some mojo among Independents. Yet, Walker survived a nasty recall attempt and has lived to see some positive results from his efforts. Assuming he runs again, he’ll face a Democratic opponent who won’t have President Obama leading the ticket. Still, many Wisconsin voters continue to carry the scars of the uncivil war that broke out after Walker’s ramrod approach to his reforms blew up.

We believe that–once again–Wisconsin will be among the most politically interesting states to watch in 2014.

 

 

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Struggling

We Ask America Polls™ kicks off our 2013 public poll offering with a series of surveys focusing on governors who will be up for re-election next year. It’s important to note that this series of polls asks only one main question: Do you approve or disapprove of the job [governor’s name] is doing? To be fair, governors are often viewed by the public as the main symbol of state government, and these polls do not measure or predict how well a particular politician will do against any given opponent. The proof of that may be found in our first offering in our home state of Illinois: Democrat Pat Quinn.

We’ve profiled Gov. Quinn before (Tenacious Gadfly), and not much has changed since then. Illinois continues to struggle under oppressive ($100 billion) public pension debt and multi-billion dollar budget deficits despite a sizable “temporary” state income tax now pumping more into state coffers. Quinn is often portrayed in press and the political blogosphere in terms of being hapless–not a great portrait for someone seeking re-election in tough times. Indeed, rumors continue to swirl of the possibility of fellow Democrats trying to take him out in next year’s Primary. But political coroners have tagged Quinn’s toe a number of times in the past only to be confounded. Will that be the case in 2014? Perhaps, but these approval numbers simply cannot be dismissed easily:


Poll type: Automated - Date: May 8, 2013 - Participants: 1,057 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 3.1%
 ApproveDisapproveNeutral/No opinion
ALL VOTERS27.98%61.69%10.33%
BY GENDER************
Women28.09%59.64%12.27%
Men27.83%64.68%7.49%
BY PARTY ID************
Repubicans11.01%83.82%5.17%
Democrats47.55%38.05%14.39%
Independents15.43%75.74%8.82%
BY LOCATION************
Chicago44.34%41.48%14.18%
Suburban Cook36.26%51.68%12.06%
Collars23.76%67.14%9.09%
Downstate15.39%76.96%7.65%

It’s problematic for Gov. Quinn that support among Independent voters continues to erode for him. Again, let’s be clear that these approval numbers can’t be viewed as a predictor of doom. Quinn’s dismal approval rating didn’t stop him from winning in 2010.

But we’re sure that some will look at these results and assume that Quinn can best be described as the Walking Dead.


Next up: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R).

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