Embattled Republican Governor Scott Walker holds a five-point lead over his newly nominated Democratic challenger Tom Barrett in Wisconsin’s special recall election. A new Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey shows that 50% of the state’s Likely Voters prefer Walker while 45% choose Barrett. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate and another two percent (2%) are undecided.
That lead has shrunk from Walker's robust advantage in early March, but is significantly larger than Marquette University's razor-thin survey data released last week. More troubling than this poll for Wisconsin Democrats is the relative turnout trends from Tuesday's primaries. The Daily Beast's Ben Jacobs expounds on the alarming tea leaves for Walker's opponents:
Tuesday was a bad night for the labor movement. In Wisconsin, with only token opposition, incumbent Gov. Scott Walker got 97 percent of the vote in the Republican primary, and almost as many votes were cast for him than in the entire Democratic primary combined. This is a bad sign for Democrats. The percentage of the vote Walker received seemed more appropriate for Mugabe than the former county executive of Milwaukee. Wisconsin Democrats were supposed to be enthusiastic about taking down Walker. The labor movement in the United States put a bulls-eye on the governor and labeled him public enemy No. 1...But in Tuesday’s primary, Republicans streamed out to cast a symbolic vote for him. The 97 percent of the vote Walker received may seem insignificant. After all, he faced only one token candidate. Then again, so did Barack Obama in West Virginia, and he got about only 60 percent of the vote running against a federal inmate.
By contrast, Tom Barrett, the former mayor of Milwaukee and Walker’s 2010 opponent, won by a comfortable margin of 58 percent to 34 percent against his principal opponent, former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk, but with a turnout that lagged behind the GOP race for much of the evening. The favored Democrats in the recall attempts for lieutenant governor and the four state Senate recalls did about the same as Barrett, despite only nominal opposition. Even more disturbing for Democrats was that Barrett won despite the overwhelming opposition of the labor movement, which backed Falk as the more progressive candidate. Barrett had only entered the race at the end of March and still managed to overwhelm months of efforts on behalf of Falk by organized labor, which had anointed her as its chosen candidate when the Walker recall movement was still in its infancy. These weak numbers stand in stark contrast to the estimated 900,000 voters who signed recall petitions and are a disturbing sign for Democrats in a general-election contest June 5 that all sides believe will focus on base enthusiasm rather than swing voters
For an amusing voyage down the River Denial, read lefty John Nichols' spin on Tuesday's vote totals. He writes that Democrats "easily outpolled" Walker's total tally, so things are looking up. In reality, it took the combined ballots of all four Democratic candidates to barely top Walker -- by a margin of roughly 40,000 votes, out of nearly 1.3 million cast. Republican voters were motivated by symbolism alone, and they still came close to outnumbering Democrats on the night of the latter party's much-hyped contested primary. But by all means, liberals, please continue to tell yourselves that you're in fine shape. Meanwhile, the Walker campaign has agreed to participate in two May debates against Barrett -- both of which will probably feel like Groundhog Day events. This exact same pair of candidates competed for the governorship in 2010. Walker won comfortably. Now the Left carrying on their multi-year tantrum, trying to undo an election they lost. They're even whining that the duly elected governor won't do four debates. Walker's recall-able offense in all of this? Pursuing his agenda. This round of vendetta politics alone is costing Wisconsin taxpayers $16 million, which amounts to more than ten percent of the state's remaining budget shortfall (which is down shraply overall from $3.6 Billion, thanks to Walker's successful reforms). In a just world, the side that triggers a failed recall election would be responsible for covering its costs. Alas, Badger State citizens will be footing the bill for the second of the three gubernatorial elections in a four-year span. Outrageous. I'll leave you with Walker's latest campaign ad, cautioning voters against turning back the clock and embracing the failed tax-and-spend policies of Democrats past: