Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I meant to comment yesterday on this Public Policy Polling survey of Wisconsin:

Sentiment moving against Walker recall

Public sentiment in Wisconsin is moving against a recall of Scott Walker....

50% of Wisconsin voters generally oppose a recall of Walker, compared to 47% in favor. Those numbers are flipped from our last statewide poll, in May, which found 50% generally in support of a recall and 47% in opposition....

It's not that Walker has become popular all the sudden. His approval rating is still a pretty bad 45/53. Independents disapprove of him by a 44/53 margin.... But I think there's a certain segment of voters in Wisconsin- somewhere around 10% of the population- that is generally opposed to the concept of recalls regardless of how they feel about how things are going in the state. We've seen that in the State Senate recalls so far- the polls have universally moved in the closing days in favor of the incumbents, both Democratic and Republican. When folks get off the fence they're tending to vote anti-recall....

Yeah, yeah, the poll says Russ Feingold could still beat Walker in a recall -- but the larger point, one that Walker and the GOP understand and Democrats never seem to, is that if you get elected and actually take some stands that match what at least some part of the electorate really wants, rather than constantly looking over your shoulder and trying to split every difference, your party will probably retain the support of enough people to survive, unless you fail spectacularly (e.g., Bush in Iraq).

Republicans know that most incumbents are reelected, and they know that it's possible to bounce back from a wave of voter anger if you have a base of voters who never stop liking the party's brand. They know they can take a hit and recover -- nationally, they did it after Watergate and they did it after both Bush presidencies.

In Wisconsin, they've lost two state senators. They're still in charge in the legislature and, if Feingold doesn't run, Governor Walker is safe. I bet he'll be reelected when his term is up, as the anger and anti-Walker energy fades.

The point of this, on a national scale, is that we shouldn't assume that President Perry and an all-teabagger congressional leadership are going to inspire such a backlash that their entitlement-slashing, regulation-eviscerating, Walkeresque agenda will need to be curtailed out of fear of political consequences in 2014 and 2016. Republicans know that it's possible to survive even a fairly large degree of outrage. So there'll be no stopping Walkerism gone national, and the only way to forestall that is to keep Walker-like Republicans (i.e., all of them, and yes, I think that includes Romney) out of office in the first place.

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