Mixed Results For Gov. Scott Walker Recall Prospect

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A new statewide poll, conducted with a random sample of actual Wisconsin voters in the 2010 Governor’s Election reliable within +/- 4.9 percentage points, finds voters in Wisconsin sharply divided on current issues related to the state’s multi-billion dollar deficit problem and a possible recall of Govenor Scott Walker.

The Ethridge & Associates poll finds voters about evenly divided on collective bargaining for public employees, 48% favor and 46% oppose, and on Governor Walker’s plan to end collective bargaining, with 50% opposing and 47% in support.

Additionally, a slight majority, 51%, of voters oppose recalling Governor Walker, with 44% supporting this idea. That is, until they consider a possible candidacy of Senator Russ Feingold, whom some are drafting to run against Walker in a recall election; then, Walker falls below 50% and ties with Feingold, 48% to 48%.

Dr. Steven C. Ethridge, founder of the firm that conducted the poll, has over 30 years of experience as strategist and pollster at the federal, state, and local levels for candidates and issues, coast to coast, mostly for clients in the Southeast and the Washington, D.C. areas. 

“If Governor Scott Walker is recalled in a special recall election in early 2012, it will be a critical catalyst nationally for the Democrats going into the 2012 elections, much like Scott Brown’s victory for the Senate in Massachusetts gave Republicans a boost of enthusiasm going into the 2010 elections," Dr. Ethridge said. "If, on the other hand, Republicans and the Tea Party movement in Wisconsin can hold this governorship, it will help the Republican Party nationally, at least somewhat, to inoculate against the possible igniting of a national Democrat trend.”  

Currently, the state is divided right down the middle in party preference, with 46% identifying themselves as Republicans and another 46% identifying themselves as Democrats.  Similarly, just as many voters statewide in Wisconsin support the Tea Party movement, 44%, as oppose it, 44%.  Not surprisingly, the majority of Republicans, 85%, support the Tea Party movement, while the majority of Democrats, 87%, oppose it.

While Ethridge also noted that, traditionally, it has been difficult for efforts to recall a governor to get the necessary number of signatures, “based on this poll it seems that any kind of organized effort, particularly in today’s fast-paced internet world, could possibly get enough signatures.”

This is particularly possible, said Ethridge, when one considers the relative emotional fervor of those who want to recall Walker compared to those who want to keep him as Governor.  Those who support recalling Walker are much more emotional in their responses.  “They tend to be angry toward Walker, because they say he did not campaign on ending collective bargaining; they think he is in with ‘big business’; that wealthier people ought to pay more taxes; and that Walker is hurting people in the middle and lower economic classes,” Ethridge said.

“By comparison,” he added, “those who want Walker to remain Governor are much more rational in their responses, saying that they believe that what Walker did had to be done to reduce the budget deficit and that he is simply doing a good job in this regard.”  

The emotions in such a  situation are important, says Ethridge, because “usually the side whose voters have more emotional fervor about the issues has a better chance of activating their constituents to do things like sign petitions and get out and vote, and ultimately win for their cause.  This presents a major challenge for the Republicans and the Tea Party movement to find a way to communicate their side of these issues in ways that will resonate with voters not only rationally but emotionally as well.” 

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