Scott Walker's race for governor could shape U.S. politics for years to come

Walker achieved conservative icon status by gutting collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions and preventing the unions from automatically deducting dues from members’ paychecks. The law he signed triggered a backlash from Democrats across Wisconsin and ultimately led to an attempted recall in 2012, while also causing the state’s public unions to hemorrhage members.

Walker survived the recall vote by a healthy 53-46 margin, and since then most of us who only vaguely follow the headlines from his state have assumed he’ll coast to re-election. But Walker is emphatically not coasting. His favorability rating has been under water for months. Polls consistently show the race a tossup, and Burke actually held a one-point lead among likely voters in the latest Marquette University Law School poll, the most respected survey in the field. It turns out there’s a sizable group of Wisconsin voters who didn’t believe Walker’s record merited a recall but don’t exactly love the guy either.

All of which is to say this is a very winnable race for Burke, provided Democratic donors give her the cash to compete with Walker, and that the Democratic base turns out in adequate numbers. (Burke is polling so well she only needs a solid rather than an amazing turnout—eminently doable even in a nonpresidential year.)