The recent polling out of Marquette University should give hope to those who want to oust Scott Walker in 2014. The polling is about two weeks old and shows that the race is a statistical tie. Mary Burke, the only declared candidate, polls at 45% compared to Walker’s 47%.
Just days after Burke declared that she was running for Governor, it was apparent that she was going to offer a formidable challenge to Scott Walker. There are those on the left who are not excited about Mary Burke, but perhaps we just need to be patient. Burke offers a strong contrast to Walker in several regards. Among them are the fact that she is a true job creator. Her company is the largest producer of bikes in the world, and employs about 1,000 people in Wisconsin. For those in the center who have been out of work for several weeks, months, or even years, this is going to come across as very appealing.
The Wisconsin economy has tanked under Walker. Liberals can take solace in the fact that they were right. When Scott Walker decided to crush the public sector unions, there were those of us who put the union aspect aside and looked at it from a strictly economic standpoint. In order for an economy to thrive, money has to change hands. Walker’s antics pulled $1,000,000,000.00 out of our economy. By cutting the wages of public workers, he in turn cut the income of private sector workers. In the words of Paul Krugman, “My spending is your income and your spending is my income.” Since Walker put through Act 10 (which is in the hands of the right-wing Wisconsin Supreme Court, as we speak) we have seen our economy spit and sputter. All of our neighbors are outperforming us. The country is growing economically, and we are still hearing about jobs leaving the state.
Surprisingly, this is not the issue that makes Walker the most vulnerable. The Marquette poll also found that women prefer Burke 49% to 42% over Walker. This gender gap is a trend that GOP just can’t shake, and Walker might make things worse if he pushes his new round of anti-choice laws.
However, even that is not where Walker is most vulnerable. What Walker needs to worry about is his ultrasound bill and his decision to reject the money to expand Badgercare. 56% of Wisconsin voters disapprove of both of these moves. These are two issues that Mary Burke is already running on. She received the endorsement of Planned Parenthood last week, and she said she would expand Badgercare once elected.
Although some of these poll numbers came as a surprise to various people, it didn’t appear to shock the Walker camp. As a matter of fact, they seem to have been anticipating it. Two items that stick out are the fact that he pushed his “tax cut” through so quickly and right after Burke announced her candidacy. This faux tax cut is nothing but a campaign slogan. Walker says it will save the average home owner over $600.00 per year. The truth is that the average homeowner will save about $33.00 over two years. Barely enough for a husband and wife to go see a movie. The genius of it is how Walker put big headlines that said “$100 million” tax cut. This sounds great to a low-information voter. If the Democrats didn’t vote for it, they would be portrayed as “tax and spend liberals,” you know...that old chestnut. Walker did this to get the attention off of Burke’s campaign and back on him. He also pushed it through so that homeowners would see the credit on the last set of taxes before the election. Walker never mentioned that renters would not see a dime from this faux-cut.
The other clincher is that the state legislature (Republican-controlled due to the wonders of gerrymandering), has also introduced legislation that takes the power away from the Governor to accept the Badgercare money. This is a sign that the GOP is nervous about who will be living in that beautiful Madison Mansion in 2015.
One of the most surprising items in the poll was that Kathleen Vinehout was only three points behind Walker. Vinehout has not even announced her candidacy. This is encouraging for progressives who want someone to the left of Burke. It is pretty obvious that Vinehout is mounting a campaign, but until she does, Burke is our candidate and she hit the ground running.
Her first televised interview was on a local station back in October. She did a fine job, but used filler words and seemed a bit nervous. Last week, she was on Rachel Maddow for her national debut. If Scott Walker wasn’t nervous before, he certainly should be after her performance that night.
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