First WI poll shows Walker losing ground, but ...

Yesterday, while discussing the results of Rasmussen’s national poll on the controversy in Wisconsin, I wondered why we had yet to see any statewide polling on it, and predicted that at least one pollster was already in the field with a survey by now.  Today, Politico publishes what appears to be the first poll of Wisconsin voters taken since the protests started in Madison, and the news isn’t good for Republican Governor  Scott Walker.  However, this poll has a couple of serious issues.  Let’s see if readers can’t figure what they may be by the introduction to the results from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research:

Voters in Wisconsin strongly agree with the working families at the state capitol [sic] and oppose Governor Scott Walker’s anti-worker agenda.  Moreover, since the protests began, Governor Walker has seen real erosion in his standing, with a majority expressing disapproval of his job performance and disagreement with his agenda.  Strong majorities disagree with eliminating collective bargaining for public employees and believe that if workers agree to concessions on pensions and healthcare benefits that the Governor should drop his plan to eliminate collective bargaining.

“Working families at the state capital”; “anti-worker.”  Any guess who funded this particular survey?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Bueller?  From Politico’s e-mail bulletin:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker appears to be paying a price for his confrontation with public employees, according to a new poll taken by the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and sponsored by the AFL-CIO, Change to Win and the NEA.

How surprising to see a poll sponsored by two big unions and a progressive political action group that shows Republicans as unpopular!

That’s not the only problem with this survey, which actually appears to be an amalgam of two surveys of likely voters.  The first took place between 2/16 to 2/20 and had a sample of 604 voters, and the second took place on 2/19 and 2/20 with a sample of 402 voters.  Why did GQR do a second survey over the weekend?  Did they not get the numbers they wanted from the first survey?  The first sample of 602 voters would be sufficient for a statewide poll, so why conduct another and incur the extra cost?  Notably, weekend surveys get less cooperation than those conducted on weekdays as a rule.  The survey doesn’t split the results by sample, either, so there is no way to determine how the overall results changed by conducting a second pass.

For that matter, the GQR survey doesn’t give any data on sample composition, either.  What ratio of Democrats, Republicans, and independents exists in the combined sample?  In the separate samples?  How many union households responded as opposed to non-union households?  Since there are around 300,000 public-sector union members in Wisconsin in a population of 5.5 million, anything over 6% union response would seem suspicious. GQR didn’t bother to report that data.

The results are unreliable, but here they are for the record:

Overall, a majority (51 percent) of Wisconsin voters disapprove of Walker’s job performance and give him net negative favorability ratings (39 percent favorable, 49 percent unfavorable).  In contrast, 62 percent of voters offer a favorable view of public employees (only 11 percent unfavorable) and 53 percent of voters rate labor unions favorably (31 percent unfavorable).  When asked if they agree or disagree with the position different groups and individuals are taking in the current situation, voters side with the public employees (67 percent agree), the protesters (62 percent agree), the unions (59 percent agree), and the Democrats in the state legislature (56 percent agree).  In contrast, 53 percent disagree with Walker and 46 percent disagree with the Republicans in the legislature.

Walker doesn’t appear fazed at all by the union poll.  Indeed, he’s standing his ground, and expects to win:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker continued to stand his ground Monday night, challenging the 14 Democratic senators who have fled to Illinois to return to “where they belong” so Republicans can move forward with his budget-cutting plan.

Over the chants of “Resign! Resign!” heard through the marble walls of the governor’s conference room from protesters in the rotunda mere yards away, Walker calmly delivered a defense of his controversial plan to eliminate the collective bargaining rights of many of Wisconsin’s public workers. He reiterated the need to balance the budget, weighed down by a deficit of more than $3 billion.

And he accused his state’s Democrats of shirking their responsibilities and being opaque in the process.

“For those 14 Senate Democrats, you had your time, now it’s time to come home,” Walker said at a news conference, adding that he knew his political foes would be watching. “Clearly I don’t think you could find a single person, at least in the state of Wisconsin, who couldn’t tell you they’re aware of what’s going on with this bill, or what the debate’s all about. The time is up. It’s time to come back to our state’s capitol – that’s where they belong.

We’re still waiting for a reliable statewide poll from an independent view.