A slim majority of Wisconsin voters don’t support the idea of a recall election to oust Gov. Scott Walker (R), according to a new poll. That is, unless Russ Feingold is offered up as the challenger who could replace Walker in just such an election.
In a poll of registered voters conducted by Ethridge & Associates, 51% of respondents said they oppose recalling Walker, compared to 44% who said they supported doing so. However, a recall election would not be just a choice of keeping or booting Walker, but would pit Walker against a Democratic challenger. To test that dynamic, Ethridge paired Walker with progressive favorite former Sen. Russ Feingold, and found the two tied at 48%.
That finding does come with some caveats.
For one, Walker can’t be recalled until at least next year. State law requires politicians to have served at least one year before becoming eligible for recall, and Walker is just a few months into his first term. While the union rights battle is fresh in voters’ minds now, that fight — and the calls for a recall election that it fostered — could dissipate over the course of the year.
Even if enough voters sign a petition to recall the governor in 2012, there’s no indication that Feingold would step up as the Democratic challenger in a recall election. Since losing his reelection bid last year, Feingold took a position as a professor at Marquette University.
Previous polls have shown that Walker could face a strong challenge in a recall election.
His approval rating is deep underwater, according to several polls conducted amid the budget debate in Wisconsin. A survey by Republican-leaning pollster Rasmussen from early March even found him deeply unpopular at home, with 43% of likely voters approving of his job performance, verus 57% who disapproved.
Further, in a strong sign of buyers remorse, a March PPP poll showed Walker losing a hypothetical do-over election against the candidate he beat last year, Democrat Tom Barrett. In that poll, a 52% majority said they would back Barrett in a re-do, versus 45% who said they’d go with Walker.
For now, Wisconsin voters have set their sights on recalling state legislators involved in the budget debate that deadlocked the statehouse for weeks. Democrats have collected enough signatures to recall five Republican legislators, while Republicans have filed paperwork to recall three Democratic lawmakers.
The Ethridge poll was conducted April 16-17 among 400 registered voters. It has a margin of error of 4.9%.