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Wisconsin: Walker Vulnerable to Recall, with 59% Disapproval Rating

We’re in a four-week sprint to recall elections in Wisconsin, and it’s not entirely clear how it’ll all turnout, though Democrats seem to have at least a plausible chance of getting back the state Senate. The success or failure of the recalls will determine whether the Democratic-labor-progressive alliance decides to go after the big target – Scott Walker, with a recall in 2012. New poll numbers out today show that Walker would be vulnerable to the challenge.

A new poll finds 59 percent of Wisconsin residents disapprove of Gov. Scott Walker’s performance.

The University of Wisconsin Survey Center’s Badger Poll released Wednesday shows 55 percent are dissatisfied with the way things are going in Wisconsin.

The survey center notes the likely reason for Walker’s disapproval rate is 55 percent said they opposed his two-year budget plan. It limits collective bargaining and requires public employees to contribute more to their health care and pensions.

Walker dismissed the numbers by saying that the state was unhappy over the recalls! Nice inversion, but the fact that Walker couldn’t even make remarks at a college without getting shouted down leads in the other direction.

Meanwhile, We Are Wisconsin, a labor coalition, unleashed two new ads to kick off the recall fight, and they frame the elections in starkly populist terms.

That ad, and another one that’s running against GOP state senator Sheila Harsdorf, traffic heavily in the sort of bare-knuckled, us-versus-them populism that tends to elicit howls of “class warfare” from the right.

In other words, these recalls are in a sense an early test run for Dem messaging in 2012, which is expected to focus heavily on the GOP plan to end Medicare as we know it, and on implacable Republican opposition to raising taxes on the rich. It’s an early test of how the battle over the proper scope and role of government — and over who should bear the burden of fixing our fiscal mess — could shape up next year.

If anything, this dichotomy is more acute in Wisconsin, where by and large the Democrats, who walked out of the state rather than allow a vote on the anti-union bill, are lining up pretty uniformly on the side of the people, and the Republicans on the side of the wealthy and the corporate. It’s really a good test case.

Based on what I’ve seen from state Republicans, you will need to make them the minority across all branches of government to repeal the anti-union law. The Senate is just the beginning. And Democrats will have to navigate some bad gerrymandering to hold the Senate and win the Assembly in 2012. But recalling Scott Walker would be the final step.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Wisconsin: Walker Vulnerable to Recall, with 59% Disapproval Rating

We’re in a four-week sprint to recall elections in Wisconsin, and it’s not entirely clear how it’ll all turnout, though Democrats seem to have at least a plausible chance of getting back the state Senate. The success or failure of the recalls will determine whether the Democratic-labor-progressive alliance decides to go after the big target – Scott Walker, with a recall in 2012. New poll numbers out today show that Walker would be vulnerable to the challenge.

A new poll finds 59 percent of Wisconsin residents disapprove of Gov. Scott Walker’s performance.

The University of Wisconsin Survey Center’s Badger Poll released Wednesday shows 55 percent are dissatisfied with the way things are going in Wisconsin.

The survey center notes the likely reason for Walker’s disapproval rate is 55 percent said they opposed his two-year budget plan. It limits collective bargaining and requires public employees to contribute more to their health care and pensions.

Walker dismissed the numbers by saying that the state was unhappy over the recalls! Nice inversion, but the fact that Walker couldn’t even make remarks at a college without getting shouted down leads in the other direction.

Meanwhile, We Are Wisconsin, a labor coalition, unleashed two new ads to kick off the recall fight, and they frame the elections in starkly populist terms.

That ad, and another one that’s running against GOP state senator Sheila Harsdorf, traffic heavily in the sort of bare-knuckled, us-versus-them populism that tends to elicit howls of “class warfare” from the right.

In other words, these recalls are in a sense an early test run for Dem messaging in 2012, which is expected to focus heavily on the GOP plan to end Medicare as we know it, and on implacable Republican opposition to raising taxes on the rich. It’s an early test of how the battle over the proper scope and role of government — and over who should bear the burden of fixing our fiscal mess — could shape up next year.

If anything, this dichotomy is more acute in Wisconsin, where by and large the Democrats, who walked out of the state rather than allow a vote on the anti-union bill, are lining up pretty uniformly on the side of the people, and the Republicans on the side of the wealthy and the corporate. It’s really a good test case.

Based on what I’ve seen from state Republicans, you will need to make them the minority across all branches of government to repeal the anti-union law. The Senate is just the beginning. And Democrats will have to navigate some bad gerrymandering to hold the Senate and win the Assembly in 2012. But recalling Scott Walker would be the final step.

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David Dayen

David Dayen