There will be a crucial referendum today regarding whether or not basic sanity will prevail over the wishes of a mob. Voters in Wisconsin will have the opportunity to recall the very governor that they just elected 18 months ago, for the simple reason that he is doing precisely what he promised to do.
Governor Scott Walker took office during an economic crisis in the state of Wisconsin. The Democratic-dominated state left him a budget deficit of over $3.6 billion and had seemingly made the state a directly-controlled subsidiary of public sector unions. As The Telegraph’s Tim Stanley correctly points out, this childish display was brought about simply because Walker has made clear that the very future of the state is at stake:
Nevertheless, the media narrative is that a deeply unpopular Governor is being brought to heel by an outpouring of people power. How can one look at all those signs and not conclude that he is hated by the voters? And yet, counter-intuitively, the polls show Walker slightly ahead. The Democrats are starting to panic.
They are right to worry, because Walker earned his narrow lead by breaking the Democrats’ inbuilt advantage in state politics – perhaps permanently. He did it with one simple reform. Before Walker, union member dues were paid straight from the employer to the union. The member never got to see the money and, likely, never thought about how much he was losing. After passage of Walker’s reforms, the money now goes into the employee’s pay packet first and they then get to choose whether or not to give it to the union. Unsurprisingly, workers have taken one look at the substantial contributions they have been asked to make and, channeling Justin, said, “Hell no!” To quote the Wall Street Journal, “Wisconsin membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — the state’s second-largest public-sector union after the National Education Association, which represents teachers — fell to 28,745 in February from 62,818 in March 2011 … Much of that decline came from Afscme Council 24, which represents Wisconsin state workers, whose membership plunged by two-thirds to 7,100 from 22,300 last year.”
Call it empowering employees or call it defunding the unions, the point is that Walker has emasculated the political force behind the recall vote. That means that the 100,000 who crashed Madison to protest his policies weren’t the beginning of a new revolution. They were the last hurrah of an old political order.
The consequences of a Walker victory go way beyond Wisconsin. Presuming that he wins, Romney will see that the conservative fiscal agenda can get votes if it can be shown to deliver better budgeting and lower taxes. Obama, however, will see that this crucial state has rejected the very appeals that he is now making on the issues of class and culture. His strategy won’t cut it in Middle America. Beyond the US, the similarities between Walker’s program and David Cameron’s are striking. A Walker victory would be a vindication of toughness in an age of austerity.
Common sense would suggest that this should be an easy affair for Walker considering the incredible success he has had in cleaning up the state’s fiscal mess, but Public Policy Polling suggests that the liberal mob hasn’t rolled over yet:
PPP’s final poll on the Wisconsin recall finds Scott Walker ahead, but also a race that’s tightening. Walker leads Tom Barrett 50-47. That’s down from 50-45 on a PPP poll conducted three weeks ago and it’s also down from a 52-45 lead that Walker posted in a Marquette Law poll released last week.
Barrett is actually winning independent voters by a 48-46 margin. The reason he continues to trail overall is that Republicans are more excited about voting in Tuesday’s election than Democrats are. Our projected electorate voted for Barack Obama by only 7 points, even though he took the state by 14 in 2008. If the folks who turn out on Tuesday actually matched the 2008 electorate, Barrett would be ahead of Walker by a 50-49 margin. It’s cliche but this is a race that really is going to completely come down to turnout.
Walker has a 51/47 approval rating. He’s up with men (55-42), whites (52-46), seniors (58-39), and especially voters in the Milwaukee suburbs (70/29).
The far-left has already tried to ram it’s agenda down the throats of Wisconsin residents through violent protests and an occupation of the states’ capital building. Here’s hoping that reason will prevail over the ugliness of an unruly mob, and more importantly, that this election is a preview of what to expect on the national stage this fall.
Copyright © 2012 Conservative Intelligence Briefing.
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