Now that Democrats have ended their divisive recall primary in Wisconsin, one would expect the polling to show their nominee to be gaining some traction against sitting Governor Scott Walker. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was considered the stronger of the Democrats challenging Walker in the unusual recall election, and polls just after the recall showed him nearly within the margin of error of the incumbent. This week, however, a new poll from We Ask America of over 1200 likely voters puts Walker on top by nine, 52/43:
While other polls also show Walker in the lead, no one is suggesting that this race is anywhere near over. Walker only leads among self-described Independent voters by 47.6%-44.6%, and the underlying numbers seem fluid. Still, some of Walker’s detractors have been vocal about the fact that Walker was duly elected in 2010 and in most states would not be able to be challenged with a recall without greater cause. And a whopping 95% of those called said they plan to vote in the June 5th election which will have the national spotlight on it.
The election takes place on June 5th, so if this is an accurate look at the race as it stands now, Barrett is in big trouble. An incumbent with 52% three weeks before the election is going to be hard to beat under any circumstances, especially in a race with this kind of exposure. It has drawn national attention for more than a year, which means that there won’t be many who already support Walker who will suddenly discover a reason to switch. The same can’t be said for Barrett, who has only re-emerged into the spotlight after losing to Walker in 2010.
Since then, there are a few points about Barrett that Walker and his huge campaign warchest will make clear in the next three weeks. On Friday, the Walker campaign released this 30-second spot, with music pointedly from Milli Vanilli:
The Walker campaign has the resources to bury Barrett’s message in reminders about how Barrett hiked fees, taxes, and spending in Milwaukee, leaving the city in worse financial shape than when he arrived. In response, Barrett will have to explain how he would have balanced the budget differently than Walker did, without raising taxes or fees, and he’s got three weeks to explain. It’s not impossible — nothing’s impossible in politics — but it’s starting to look pretty unlikely that Barrett can make that sale.
Update: Greg Sargent reports that Wisconsin Democrats are going public with their anger over a lack of support from the DNC:
“We are frustrated by the lack of support from the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Governors Association,” a top Wisconsin Democratic Party official tells me. “Scott Walker has the full support and backing of the Republican Party and all its tentacles. We are not getting similar support.”
“Considering that Scott Walker has already spent $30 million and we’re even in the polls, this is a winnable race,” the Wisconsin Dem continues. “We can get outspent two to one or five to one. We can’t get spent 20 to one.”
According to the Wisconsin Dem, the party has asked the DNC for $500,000 to help with its massive field operation. While the DNC has made generally supportive noises, the money has not been forthcoming, the official says — with less than a month until the June 5th recall election. The DNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It apparently doesn’t look winnable to the DNC, which tells you all you need to know about the polls on which WI Democrats rely.
Update II: I mistakenly wrote 53/42 in the first paragaph; it should have been 52/43. Thanks to Steve Eggleston for pointing it out to me.