Is it still possible for Wisconsin Democrats to recall Gov. Scott Walker, following their narrow failure last week to take control of the state Senate via recall elections? New survey numbers from Public Policy Polling (D) suggests that the answer is unclear — and a lot would seemingly depend on whether they can recruit a top candidate, such as former Sen. Russ Feingold.
Walker’s approval rating is still underwater, with 45% approval to 53% disapproval. However, a later question asked: “Would you support or oppose recalling Scott Walker from office before his term is up?” The answer was 47% support, to 50% oppose — down slightly from a 50%-47% support margin in a PPP survey from late May, though both are within the margin of error.
However, Wisconsin recalls do not function as an up-or-down vote on the incumbent. Instead, if a number of people equal to 25% of the number of votes in the last gubernatorial election were to sign petitions (plus a buffer for disqualified signatures), then the election would be called. At that point, it would effectively become a special election, with the incumbent challenged by other candidates.
PPP’s Tom Jensen notes Walker’s unpopularity, but offers this analysis about a possible inherent difficulty of recalls: “But I think there’s a certain segment of voters in Wisconsin — somewhere around 10% of the population — that is generally opposed to the concept of recalls regardless of how they feel about how things are going in the state. We’ve seen that in the State Senate recalls so far- the polls have universally moved in the closing days in favor of the incumbents, both Democratic and Republican. When folks get off the fence they’re tending to vote anti-recall.”
As for those horse-races, Feingold — who lost his senate re-election bid in the 2010 Republican wave — leads Walker by 52%-45%, roughly corresponding to Walker’s approval and disapproval ratings. In the poll from May, Feingold led by a slightly wider 52%-42% (also corresponding to Walker’s 43%-54% approval ratings in that poll).
Other hypothetical candidates were tested, as well. Walker’s 2010 Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, edges Walker by just 48%-47%, compared to 50%-43% Barrett lead in the last poll. Former Rep. David Obey trails Walker by 47%-44%, and Rep. Ron Kind trails Walker by 46%-43%. (Obey and Kind were not tested in the previous poll.)
The poll also asked: “Were you happy or unhappy with the results of
Tuesday’s State Senate recall elections?” The result was 43% happy, 39% unhappy, and 18% undecided. As can be expected, Republicans were overwhelmingly happy with the results and the GOP’s narrow survival — the Dems gained two seats, just short of the magic three — Democrats are largely unhappy, and independents correspond closely to the top-lines.