Walker Slips In New Wisconsin Poll

In Wisconsin’s high-profile governor’s race pitting GOP incumbent Scott Walker against Democratic challenger Mary Burke, the respected Marquette Poll, which had Walker leading 50% to 45% two weeks ago, now shows the candidates in a dead heat at 47% to 47%.  This is good news for Burke because it shows (a) voters leaving Walker, and (b) momentum in her favor.

Of course, the only poll that matters is Nov. 4, but the science of polling has advanced to where good pollsters are impressively accurate.  For example, in 2008, Nate Silver correctly called 49 of 50 states, and in 2012, he got all 50 states right.  If the Marquette poll is believable, Walker’s re-election campaign is in trouble.

Walker has thrived despite his polarizing politics and campaign finance scandals.  He was surprisingly strong in the recall against him two years ago.  The Democrats have found it difficult to recruit heavyweight politicians to run against him.  Burke isn’t completely a political novice, but she certainly came into this race as a dark horse.

Burke served in a cabinet-level job under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, and was elected to Madison’s school board in 2012, but hasn’t been a legislator, and didn’t work her way up the political career ladder in the usual fashion.  Her political ascent is somewhat reminiscent of those of Sarah Palin, who leaped from small-town mayor to statehouse in a single bound, and Patty Murray, who went from school board member to state senator, then leaped directly into the U.S. Senate without having been a House member or governor.

Burke is less polished than experienced politicians, a bit gaffe-prone, and most of her experience is in business.  The latter may help her, because voters are frustrated with professional politicians and may think a business person is better suited for attracting jobs to the state.  Being able to self-fund her campaign also helps, and Wisconsin Democrats dislike Walker so much they don’t care that she’s a wealthy 1-percenter.  (Her father founded Trek, a bicycle manufacturer).

Walker has smugly talked about running for president in 2016.  I think that’s a pipe dream.  While the GOP has become so extreme he’s a conceivable competitor for its nomination, I don’t think he could outcompete Paul Ryan or Rand Paul for the GOP base, and if he did he’d be unelectable.  In any case, losing next month do more than wipe the smirk off his face; it would end his incipient presidential run.  So the stakes are very high for Walker.

Expect the final weeks of this campaign to get down-and-dirty, and also expect plenty of GOP vote suppression efforts in Wisconsin.Roger Rabbit icon

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