The eyes of Wisconsin's political world will be watching Marquette University Law School this afternoon for the results of their latest poll. The MU Law poll is now considered the gold standard in Wisconsin polling, and last issued a report at the end of January. Below is a primer on the most important numbers to look for and why they matter.
Walker v. Burke: Gov. Scott Walker was up on challenger Mary Burke 47% to 41% in the last poll. After a Rasmussen poll showed the pair tied at 45%, the margin between Walker and Burke will be heavily scrutinized. A lot has happened since the last poll. Both campaigns have gone up on TV, John Doe emails were dumped, and Gov. Walker proposed and passed a $500 million tax cut all in the last two months. It seems likely that these numbers will tighten some, but leaving Walker in the lead. If Burke is tied or closer, its a big boost for her campaign. If she remains static or further out, she is toast.
Mary Burke’s Favorability: In two straight MU Law polls, an astounding 70% of respondents couldnt’ give an opinion about the Democratic candidate for governor. Since January, Mary Burke has gone up on TV and has been present more in the media. One would expect this number to drop significantly with favorables rising as Democrats warm up to her.
Scott Walker’s Favorability and Job Approval: The last poll saw Gov. Walker’s job approval sitting at 51%. His favorability was very close at 49%. Again, since the last poll, Gov. Walker proposed and passed a $500 million tax cut (the third in tax cut in a year) and has seen improving economic numbers as the unemployment rate dropped to 6.1%. If Walker’s approval rating or favorability drops, most Democrats will likely assume it to be the result of the John Doe document dump.
Right Direction/Wrong Direction: The question about whether the state is heading in the right or wrong direction has favored Gov. Walker now for some time. In the January poll, 54% of respondents said right direction while just 40% said the wrong direction. Again, with the passage of significant tax relief, it's hard to imagine this number drops and is more likely to tick up.
Obamacare and President Obama’s Job Approval: While there is no U.S. Senate race or tight House races in Wisconsin this year, tracking the approval of Obamacare and President Obama’s job approval can help to discern whether this year will see more of an anti-Obamacare, anti-Obama attitude among voters. In January, 55% disapproved of Obamacare and 50% disapproved of the President’s performance in office. Considering, Obama won Wisconsin in 2012 by 7 points, this rise in unfavorables is not insignificant. Since January, there has been plenty of negative news about Obamacare as enrollment numbers continue to lag. And President Obama has taken a beating on the world stage after widely being viewed as weak on the Russian invasion of Crimea.
Why Do Democrats Constantly Assail the Koch Brothers? Apparently it’s Lucrative
Anyone paying attention to the Democratic political strategy in 2014 knows that the Koch Brothers are apparently public enemy number one. If you’ve been in Wisconsin, we got a preview of this strategy during the collective bargaining debate when the Koch Brothers became the origin of all evil coming out of the capitol.
To a person, it’s hard to find a Democrat who is not adopting the anti-Koch brothers campaign meme. Mary Burke is telling the Koch Brothers to "stay out of Wisconsin." Rep. Mark Pocan made a speech on the floor of the House against "Kochcare." Rep. Gwen Moore referenced the Koch Brothers in her now infamous rendition of "Hit the Road, Scott." Democratic Party emails feverishly attempt to raise money to counter the influence of the Kochs. And so on and so forth.
So, the million dollar question has been, does it work? It might. According to a piece in Slate by Dave Weigel, naming the Koch Brothers in fundraising appeals gets liberal blood pressure up and in turn opens up the checkbooks.
"Here's another reason that the Democrats will keep battering the Kochs. I've seen some numbers from fundraising emails from one campaign that were sent from roughly mid-January to mid-March, pretty bad news cycles for the party. Nineteen emails didn't mention the Kochs. They raised, in total, $48,146.30, for an average of $2,534.02 per message.
But five emails mentioned, in at least some way, the Koch brothers. Those asks raised $32,668.72, an average of $6,533.74 per email. The Democratic base, which has been hearing about and fearing the Kochs for nearly four years, responds to this stuff."
Anecdotal? Yes. But if that fundraising success is in any way indicative of a broader trend, expect to see more of it.
As a campaign strategy on the other hand, it is hard to imagine the anti-Koch meme mobilizing voters to the polls.
Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke introduced a 40 page jobs plan on Tuesday. Feeling confident about her plan, Burke chided Gov. Walker’s four page plan from 2010 saying, "I've seen eighth-grade term papers that frankly have more work put into them." Burke’s plan has enough central planning in it to make a Politburo member proud. Interestingly enough, Burke calls for holding the line on taxes and cutting red tape in the bureaucracy. More on this to come.
In an extensive interview with Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner, Gov. Walker dove into foreign affairs and offered a compelling case on how conservatives need to approach limiting government. For anyone interested in a potential presidential platform and agenda, this is likely an initial blueprint.
In a fundraising appeal on behalf of 7th Congressional District Democrat Kelly Westlund, former Rep. Dave Obey says "Let’s take back my seat." Everyone knows that Obey held that congressional seat for over 40 years, but that is not his seat. To quote former Sen. Scott Brown, "it’s the people’s seat."