September 28, 2011
We can’t offer enough praise to those whose efforts thus far have succeeded beyond what many voters thought possible a year ago.
But it’s clear that more needs to be done to hammer home the linkage between Governor Walker’s budget reforms and the positive outcomes they have produced at all levels of government. This is made obvious by recent polling that uncovered a surprising disconnect between preferred results and the policies needed to accomplish them.
In brief, Wisconsin voters are equally divided over Governor Walker’s job performance. They approve of curbing government employee benefit costs but not of curtailing collective bargaining. And by a less-than-comfortable margin for the Governor, they don’t want him recalled.
This hodgepodge of attitudes is a warning that the accomplishments of 2011 are fragile and could be reversed if the electorate doesn’t associate its desired outcomes with the actions that bring them about. The outcomes so far are strongly positive. Now it’s up to the Governor and legislative Republicans to explain why.
We suspect the anti-recall margin detected in the polling would be a lot stronger than six percentage points if people better connected collective bargaining curbs with avoiding teacher layoffs and controlling the pension and benefit costs paid with their tax dollars. Many aren’t seeing this and the political price could be high.
Democrats have been in “see what sticks” mode, spinning the poll as both a rejection of the Governor and a pro-Walker whitewash by a conservative think tank. Both ideas are preposterous. The pollster, Doug Schoen, has earned his living helping elect Democrats. It would be wise for conservatives to respect his abilities, assume he got it right, and redouble the effort to deliver a message that’s both positive and true.