Monday, March 21, 2011


This may be significant, but I don't think we know enough to say for sure:

...In the week after {Wisconsin governor Scott] Walker announced his plan to dramatically curtail public employees' collective bargaining rights in the state budget repair bill, a wide majority of the emails to him expressed support, an analysis of those emails indicates.

But that support was significantly boosted by emails from pro-Walker senders from outside Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism analyzed a computer-generated random sample of 1,910 emails from the more than 50,000 that flooded Walker's office in the week after he unveiled his plan on Feb. 11....

Of the emails related to the bill, 62 percent supported it, while 32 percent opposed it. The margin of error for the Center’s sample size is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points....

When the Center looked only at emails from Wisconsin, the margin was much slimmer, with 55 percent favoring his bill and 42 percent opposed....

In a situation like this, are people more likely to e-mail a politician on their own side (to say "Give 'em hell" or "Don't go wobbly")? Or are they more likely to fire off an angry message to the opposition? I really don't know what's typical in these cases. We'd need to know in order to figure out what this means.

And shouldn't we also look at the e-mails sent to the 14 fleeing Democrats? Would the ratio of pro-Walker to anti-Walker be the same? Would it be the exact opposite? Of course, we'd also have to look at the Republican senators' e-mails too, wouldn't we?

I'm not surprised that out-of-state e-mails skew the results -- thanks to the right-wing media, Wingnut Nation is on high alert all the time, while progressives across the country are alerted to outrages like this through less reliable means.

But even the in-state e-mail ratio is decidedly in Walker's favor. That doesn't necessarily mean that his position has majority support in the state -- but it may mean that there are more highly motivated Walker supporters in the state than Walker opponents. And if that's the case, it could decide how the recalls go regardless of what public opinion of the Republicans is statewide -- it may be that more people oppose what the GOP did, but the pro-Walker crowd will be more pumped up.

And that large number of pro-Walker messages from out of state makes me worry about financial support for the Republicans in the event of a recall. So, in short: progressives, redouble your efforts.

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