Good news in the abstract, but is it good news right now?
Walker’s still not popular- 47% of voters approve of him, compared to 51% who disapprove. But those numbers represent continuing improvement over the course of the year. He hit his lowest point in PPP’s polling in May at 43/54. By August he’d improved to 45/53, and now that improvement has continued over the last couple months. Republicans continue to stand pretty uniformly behind Walker, and Democrats pretty uniformly against him. Where the shift is occurring is with independents. In May only 40% approved of him with 56% disapproving. Now those numbers are almost flipped with 52% approving to 44% who disapprove.
Walker’s not out of the woods by any means. 48% of voters in the state want to recall him, while 49% are opposed to such a move. But it’s not clear if Democrats will have a candidate strong enough to unseat Walker. The only one who beats him in a hypothetical recall is Russ Feingold. But Feingold’s already said he’s probably not going to run, and his margin over Walker is just 3 points at 49-46. In May Feingold led Walker 52-42 and in August Feingold had a 52-45 advantage. So even with their strongest possible candidate Democrats’ prospects against Walker are slipping…
Here’s something to keep in mind though: in all of the State Senate elections we were polling over the summer, public opinion moved against recall in the closing days.
That’s from PPP, a.k.a. Kos’s pollster, so this isn’t a case of a conservative polling outfit concern-trolling liberals about how another pesky recall effort might backfire. This is a bona fide heads up to the true believers, with good reason. Not only is the outrageous outrage over the collective bargaining bill fated to cool over time, as success stories bubble up in the news and centrist voters realize that the blue-collar apocalypse isn’t at hand, but it turns out a loophole in Wisconsin law will allow Walker to raise unlimited funds for two months to fight the recall effort starting in November. He’ll be armed to the teeth financially, in other words, and Republicans who turned out in droves to re-elect David Prosser in the face of a liberal onslaught will be even more motivated to protect the GOP’s newest hero.
Meanwhile, thanks to the “Occupy” movement, the left no longer has as much riding on Wisconsin as it once did. When I wrote about this two weeks ago, I thought the excitement over OWS and grassroots liberalism would compel them to try to take down their archnemesis Walker regardless of how prudent that might be. Now, though, I’m wondering if OWS won’t have the opposite effect by turning Wisconsin into yesterday’s news. The left has already spent a ton of money there trying to beat Prosser and retake the state senate and it failed in both tries. Unless a big name like Feingold gets in, they’re probably going to whiff again in their showdown with Walker. Now that they’ve got a way to flex their muscle nationally instead of staging sit-ins at the capitol in Madison, why not cut their losses and apply the “get Walker!” money to OWS (or Obama) instead? I’m asking earnestly. No concern-trolling, scout’s honor.
But back to the question I posed up top. Don’t we want the left to try this, given how likely they are to suffer another humiliating defeat? Alas, the PPP poll will only discourage them. Or is that a good thing, given the amount of Republican money that’ll be diverted to this race instead of being spent to defeat Obama?