Poll: Walker Hurting Himself in Labor Standoff

Wis. Gov. Scott Walker

It looks as if Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker is doing what a generation of liberals before him has been unable to do–stoke up populist sentiment in favor of labor rights.

And it is beginning to hurt him badly, according to Public Policy Polling pollsters.

Raleigh, N.C. – With a 46-52 job approval rating, Scott Walker comes into office more popular than his predecessor, Jim Doyle, who by late last October was one of the least popular governors in the country.

But in the midst of the ongoing battle over public employees’ collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin, that same 52% who disapprove of Walker’s performance so far would rather elect his 2010 Democratic opponent, Tom Barrett, if they could do last November’s contest over again. 47% are comfortable with the office’s current occupant. Nine percent of those who claimed to have voted for Walker would cast a ballot for Barrett, compared to only 4% of Barrett’s voters inclined the other way.

And with the small share who say they did not vote or cannot remember who they voted for but who may vote in 2012, Barrett wins, 59-22. Walker and his fellow Republicans benefited a lot from a surge in GOP turnout and apathy among the Democratic base last fall, a phenomenon not likely to recur next fall.

The polls internals don’t do Walker any favors, either….

Voters generally have a favorable impression of unions, with 49% seeing them positively and 41% negatively. 41% also say that public employees should have fewer rights than they do now, but a 44% plurality think they should keep the same amount of rights, and a further 11% think they should have even more rights, meaning a 55% majority think state workers should have at least as many rights as they currently enjoy.

The pollsters surveyed 768 Wisconsin voters from Feb. 24-27. The survey’s margin of error is reported at plus or minus 3.5 percent.

I personally do not advocate for governing by opinion poll. And if I were asked I’d likely hold with those who view unions somewhat unfavorably and who think they should have somewhat fewer privileges. But that does not mean I oppose collective bargaining. There is a reason the term “bargaining” is included in that phrase.

A lot can be gained through negotiation—as Walker knows. He has already achieved all of the fiscal concessions he sought from public employees, yet he presses on for the kill.

That gives credence to those who think he is merely trying to rub out one of the last remaining challengers to the conservative camp’s donor-base dominance, a position that FOX-TV’s Shep Smith holds.

Can you spell B-A-C-K-F-I-R-E?


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