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Poll Shows Support for Public Employees, Protesters in Wisconsin Fight

This new ad from the AFL-CIO features Mike DeGarmo, a firefighter from Racine, making two points about the standoff in Wisconsin between Senate Democrats and Republicans led by Governor Scott Walker. One, “we stand together or we fall together.” Firefighters are exempt from the collective bargaining restrictions in the budget repair bill, so having one of them as the spokesmen delivering this message is powerful. In fact, firefighters have been at the lead of many of the rallies and have a big presence in the Capitol. Second, he emphasizes that public employees have agreed to the financial concessions in the bill, but draw the line at having their rights taken away.

Time to see if that message is getting through. In a new poll out this morning, paid for by the AFL but put together by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, Governor Walker’s poll numbers are fading. He has a net-negative favorability of -10 (39/49), and 51 percent disapprove of his job performance. And the numbers on public employees are quite a bit better:

Public employees favorability: 62/11
Unions favorability: 53/31

In the current situation, agree or disagree with:
Public employees: 67/24
Protesters: 62/31
Unions: 59/37
Democrats in the legislature: 56/39
Republicans in the legislature: 48/46
Gov. Walker 43/53

Then there’s the specific proposal:

Just over half of Wisconsin’s voters oppose the agenda offered by Walker and the Republicans in the state legislature. Only 43 percent favor it. It is striking that there is a real intensity gap with 39 percent strongly opposing their proposals and only 28 percent strongly favoring it. When voters are presented with Walker’s specific agenda, including cutting benefits, freezing wages and eliminating collective bargaining, 52 percent oppose. The intensity gap actually increases to 41 percent strongly oppose and 24 percent strongly favor.

When asked more specifically, 58 percent oppose eliminating collective bargaining, 57 percent oppose reducing wages for public employees and 50 percent oppose reducing pension benefits for public employees. Not surprisingly, 78 percent of Democrats oppose eliminating collective bargaining rights, but 59 percent of independents and even a third of Republicans oppose it as well.

There’s a second poll out specifically in moderate Senate Republican’s districts, showing that two-thirds of voters want a compromise between Governor Walker and the legislature, not this bill.

These are very poor numbers on which to wage this fight for public opinion, though with majorities in the legislature Walker and the Republicans do obviously have some advantages. It explains why Walker is going on television tonight with an address to the people, ostensibly to try and get them back on his side. How effective protesters, public employees and the Democrats in the legislature can be in rebutting that message will go a long way.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Poll Shows Support for Public Employees, Protesters in Wisconsin Fight

This new ad from the AFL-CIO features Mike DeGarmo, a firefighter from Racine, making two points about the standoff in Wisconsin between Senate Democrats and Republicans led by Governor Scott Walker. One, “we stand together or we fall together.” Firefighters are exempt from the collective bargaining restrictions in the budget repair bill, so having one of them as the spokesmen delivering this message is powerful. In fact, firefighters have been at the lead of many of the rallies and have a big presence in the Capitol. Second, he emphasizes that public employees have agreed to the financial concessions in the bill, but draw the line at having their rights taken away.

Time to see if that message is getting through. In a new poll out this morning, paid for by the AFL but put together by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, Governor Walker’s poll numbers are fading. He has a net-negative favorability of -10 (39/49), and 51% disapprove of his job performance. And the numbers on public employees are quite a bit better:

Public employees favorability: 62/11
Unions favorability: 53/31

In the current situation, agree or disagree with:
Public employees: 67/24
Protesters: 62/31
Unions: 59/37
Democrats in the legislature: 56/39
Republicans in the legislature: 48/46
Gov. Walker 43/53

Then there’s the specific proposal:

Just over half of Wisconsin’s voters oppose the agenda offered by Walker and the Republicans in the state legislature. Only 43 percent favor it. It is striking that there is a real intensity gap with 39 percent strongly opposing their proposals and only 28 percent strongly favoring it. When voters are presented with Walker’s specific agenda, including cutting benefits, freezing wages and eliminating collective bargaining, 52 percent oppose. The intensity gap actually increases to 41 percent strongly oppose and 24 percent strongly favor.

When asked more specifically, 58 percent oppose eliminating collective bargaining, 57 percent oppose reducing wages for public employees and 50 percent oppose reducing pension benefits for public employees. Not surprisingly, 78 percent of Democrats oppose eliminating collective bargaining rights, but 59 percent of independents and even a third of Republicans oppose it as well.

There’s a second poll out specifically in moderate Senate Republican’s districts, showing that 2/3 of voters want a compromise between Governor Walker and the legislature, not this bill.

These are very poor numbers on which to wage this fight for public opinion, though with majorities in the legislature Walker and the Republicans do obviously have some advantages. It explains why Walker is going on television tonight with an address to the people, ostensibly to try and get them back on his side. How effective protesters, public employees and the Democrats in the legislature can be in rebutting that message will go a long way.

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David Dayen

David Dayen