Demographic tidbits from Wisconsin
by David Atkins
Public Policy Polling has published some interesting details about its poll showing Scott Walker up by three in Wisconsin. The most relevant is this:
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).Of course, It's incredibly important that Barrett defeat Scott Walker in Wisconsin, and the DNC's decision-making in refusing to help is baffling. I'm sure the President and his team feel that throwing their weight into this arena only to lose would be seen as a rejection of the President himself. This is typical shortsightedness: Republicans will spin it as a defeat for Obama whether the DNC is involved or not, even as tea party types everywhere rub their hands in glee at the prospect of ending collective bargaining rights across the country.
Barrett has a 46/46 favorability rating, improved from 43/46 on our first poll after the primary. He's winning with women (52/46), minorities (58-36), young voters (53-39), those in Milwaukee County (61-35), and ones in greater Madison (59-37).
Still, the numbers here are striking. The current Republican regime is predicated on a single demographic constituency: old white males. The Fox News demographic. A demographic that is literally and figuratively dying. At a certain point, the weight of decline of the Republican-leaning segments of the population will shift on the fulcrum far enough that it will become very difficult to continue in their current direction. Like a cornered animal, that will be when they are at their most dangerous. The reflection of their imminent decline is part of what fuels their current extremism: a desperate grasp at locking down power while they still can.
But there's another set of numbers, too, that should be disturbing to the labor movement: the fact that Scott Walker has been ahead in in most non-partisan polls by a range of 3 to 8 points, while President Obama maintains an average 5-point lead in the state. In other words, a significant portion of Wisconsin voters are willing to vote for Walker, but unwilling to vote for Romney. My own theory is that these are probably not so much centrist, Simpson-Bowles friendly voters, but people who are mostly otherwise more or less progressive but have become convinced by the anti-public employee arguments of the right. If that's accurate and Walker wins despite the major counterpush, it may be necessary for the labor movement to spend more time aggressively expanding into the private sector, than increasingly doubling down on defending the public sector, which is intrinsically a more difficult argument.
Time will tell, but now isn't the moment for pontification and retrospection. Sign up today to help Tom Barrett beat Scott Walker on Tuesday. Every single vote counts, and the momentum is shifting our direction.