On Wisconsin – a very telling exit poll question
posted at 8:15 am on June 6, 2012 by Libby Sternberg
Much will be written and said about the Wisconsin recall election that Governor Scott Walker and fellow Republicans won last night. Here is my take on one part of this overall topic:
While the exit polls were obviously off (newscasters kept telling viewers the race was too close to call based on those polls, when Walker won by seven points), one bit of exit polling is worth reviewing. CBS’s exit polls showed this:
Sixty percent of Wisconsin voters in today’s recall election say recall elections are only appropriate for official misconduct, according to early CBS News exit polls. Twenty-eight percent said they think they are suitable for any reason, while nine percent think they are never appropriate.
Since the exit polling seemed to skew leftward (to deliver the “too close to call” verdict), one can reasonably assume that this percentage was actually higher than 60 percent among the general electorate.
The takeaway from this poll result: people might have been unhappy with Walker, but they were clearly more unhappy with unions taking them down this $9 million-dollar-recall road.
And this comes at a time when unions can’t afford to have the public unhappy with them. A Gallup poll done last year showed that only a “slim majority of Americans” approve of unions today, and, while this holds steady from the previous year’s numbers, it’s part of a downward approval trend stretching back 60-plus years.
A 2011 Harris poll also showed that, while most people believe unions have improved wages and working conditions for their members, unions don’t give members “their money’s worth” and are too involved in political issues.
- Over seven in ten believe that unions are too involved in politics (72%), are more concerned with fighting change than with trying to bring about change (71%) and stifle individual initiative (63%),
- By 62% to 38% a majority of Americans disagree that unions give members their money’s worth for the dues they pay. Only 47% of union members agree with this sentiment.
With the Wisconsin recall mess, unions managed to confirm, and possibly enhance, the negative views showing up in the Harris polls – unions don’t deliver “their money’s worth” to members and are “too involved in politics.”
As the old saying goes, “When you strike at the king, you must kill him.” The unions, aligned with Democrats, decided to “strike at the king” – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose changes to collective bargaining rules and other reforms angered them mightily.
But they surely had to know that if they failed in their quest to unseat Walker, it would be more than just a win for Walker. It would signify yet more weakening of union power, emboldening union critics and opponents.
Scott Walker didn’t just win Tuesday’s election. The unions lost—big-time.
Libby Sternberg is a novelist. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, she was a member of a union—AGMA—that did, in fact, improve working conditions and pay for its members.
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