New Poll of Wisconsin

February 22, 2011 3:06 a.m.

It’s important to note that this new poll is sponsored by the AFL-CIO. But it’s done by a respected polling firm. And it suggests that Gov. Walker (R-WI) holds a weak and weakening hand in his battle against his state public employees unions.

We’re going to post fuller results of the poll later this morning. But key takeaways include the following.

Reaction to the specifics of Walker’s Proposals include overwhelming opposition from Democrats, majority support from Republicans and sizable opposition from independents. Walker has a 10% net disapproval — 39% approve, 49% disapprove.

It goes without saying that this poll is sponsored by an interested party, though as I said it’s done by a highly credible polling organization and is not loaded with leading questions — specifically, neutral support/opposition questions come first and are only later followed by so-called ‘messaging’ questions. I’d still like to see a few more independent polls of this situation. And I understand that at least one more is to be released shortly. But it is worth noting that these results are broadly in line the results released a few days ago by the GOP-aligned group WeAskAmerica.More sections from the poll write up …

Voters in Wisconsin strongly agree with the working families at the state capitol and oppose Governor Scott Walker’s anti-worker agenda. Moreover, since the protests began, Governor Walker has seen real erosion in his standing, with a majority expressing disapproval of his job performance and disagreement with his agenda. Strong majorities disagree with eliminating collective bargaining for public employees and believe that if workers agree to concessions on pensions and healthcare benefits that the Governor should drop his plan to eliminate collective bargaining.

Walker’s Standing is Poor, while Most Agree with the Unions and Public Employees

Overall, a majority (51 percent) of Wisconsin voters disapprove of Walker’s job performance and give him net negative favorability ratings (39 percent favorable, 49 percent unfavorable). In contrast, 62 percent of voters offer a favorable view of public employees (only 11 percent unfavorable) and 53 percent of voters rate labor unions favorably (31 percent unfavorable). When asked if they agree or disagree with the position different groups and individuals are taking in the current situation, voters side with the public employees (67 percent agree), the protesters (62 percent agree), the unions (59 percent agree), and the Democrats in the state legislature (56 percent agree). In contrast, 53 percent disagree with Walker and 46 percent disagree with the Republicans in the legislature.

Just over half of Wisconsin’s voters oppose the agenda offered by Walker and the Republicans in the state legislature. Only 43 percent favor it. It is striking that there is a real intensity gap with 39 percent strongly opposing their proposals and only 28 percent strongly favoring it. When voters are presented with Walker’s specific agenda, including cutting benefits, freezing wages and eliminating collective bargaining, 52 percent oppose. The intensity gap actually increases to 41 percent strongly oppose and 24 percent strongly favor.

Finally, voters are convinced that if public employees accept concessions and pay more for retirement and healthcare that Governor Walker should drop his attempt to eliminate collective bargaining. Three quarters say that public employees should not have their collective bargaining rights eliminated including nearly half of Republicans.

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