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New Polling – Democrats Lead in Three Potential Recall Elections in Wisconsin

PPP/Daily Kos has released polling for each of the “Republican 8” State Senate districts in Wisconsin up for recall. While State Senate polling is almost unheard of due to the low name recognition, in this case the response rate was quite high, and the topic has blanketed the news in Wisconsin for the past month, so I think it’s at least credible as a good baseline. Based on this polling, Democrats lead in enough districts – three – to flip the State Senate in Wisconsin.

The poll tested each of the Republican 8 Senators – Dan Kapanke, Randy Hopper, Luther Olsen, Rob Cowles, Sheila Harsdorf, Alberta Darling, Mary Lazich and Glenn Grothman, against a generic Democrat. This is probably the best way to gauge this right now, as they are recall elections, and the actions of the Republicans in stripping public employee collective bargaining rights will be the main, if not the only, issue of the election. Here are those topline numbers.

Democrat 55
Dan Kapanke 41

Democrat 49
Randy Hopper 44

Democrat 49
Luther Olsen 47

Rob Cowles 45
Democrat 43

Sheila Harsdorf 48
Democrat 44

Alberta Darling 52
Democrat 44

Mary Lazich 56
Democrat 34

Glenn Grothman 60
Democrat 32

Grothman and Lazich were never considered winnable districts. I’m a bit surprised at the baseline spread on Alberta Darling’s race. Local progressives think that district is very winnable, in part because there’s a credible Democratic candidate, former Assemblyman Sheldon Wasserman, willing to run. In addition, Darling is the co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, which reported out the rights-stripping bill. And, Darling will be in attendance at that big fundraiser in Washington this week for the state GOP. So I have reason to believe that one could be closer, especially when you plug in the actual candidates.

As for Kapanke, Hopper and Olsen, obviously they’re in a fair bit of trouble. Kapanke doesn’t even look close, and Hopper has his own set of problems that will cut against his ability to claw back. Olsen’s district includes the fairly blue-collar town of Green Bay. This could also be one of those tipping point elections, where all the close races move in favor of the party with more energy and enthusiasm. I think it’s clearly the case that the energy is on the Democratic side. Given all that, I’d say 6 of these 8 seats are in play.

Recall elections are historically pretty difficult – only a handful of legislators have ever been recalled in American history. But this is a unique situation. And Democrats appear well-positioned to make Scott Walker and his allies pay for stripping public workers of their rights.

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David Dayen

David Dayen