The IWV poll says that voters would oppose recalling Democratic state senators by 60 percent to 38 percent but oppose recalling Republicans by only 52 percent to 43 percent.
There's an assumption by many Republicans, seemingly shared by Walker, that voters settled these issues definitively in the November elections. But the IWV poll suggests that voters are not necessarily well informed and have been swayed by those who frame the issue as collective bargaining "rights."
Respondents become more favorable to Walker's position when informed that public employees are paid 45 percent more than private sector union members and that union dues have been automatically deducted and go to support candidates workers may not favor.
In New Jersey, a more Democratic state than Wisconsin, Gov. Chris Christie has won majority support in his struggles with public employee unions by making his case repeatedly, with facts and figures, and with a forcefulness that has made his town hall appearances a YouTube hit.
Christie and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, both elected in 2009, have won public acceptance of major spending cuts by making the alternatives and the facts clear.
Republicans in Wisconsin and other states, and Republican leaders in Washington, need to do the same. Given their druthers, voters oppose tax increases and spending cuts. But they're responsive to the message that in these hard economic times it's not possible to have all good things.
They have seen that vast spending increases haven't generated jobs, and they understand that tax increases can choke a sputtering economic recovery. Given the facts, they understand that public employee unions inflate spending, reduce accountability and operate as a mechanism for the involuntary transfer of taxpayer money to one political party.
The press won't make that case. Republicans and tea partiers need to do it themselves.