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Kathleen Falk
Kathleen Falk surges against Scott Walker
Public Policy Polling (PDF). 2/23-26. Wisconsin voters. MoE: ±3.3% (10/20-23 results):

PPP once again asked about a ton of different potential Democratic candidates in a hypothetical recall election of Gov. Scott Walker, so let's start with the folks who have actually declared first:

Kathleen Falk (D): 48 (41)
Scott Walker (R-inc): 47 (49)
Undecided: 5 (10)

Kathleen Vinehout (D): 44
Scott Walker (R-inc): 46
Undecided: 10

Doug LaFollette (D): 45
Scott Walker (R-inc): 46
Undecided: 9

And here are all the potential candidates, in my very rough guesstimation of "likelihood of entering the race":
Tom Barrett (D): 49 (46)
Scott Walker (R-inc): 46 (48)
Undecided: 5 (6)

David Obey (D): 45 (42)
Scott Walker (R-inc): 47 (47)
Undecided: 7 (10)

Peter Barca (D): 46 (42)
Scott Walker (R-inc): 48 (48)
Undecided: 7 (10)

Jon Erpenbach (D): 44 (40)
Scott Walker (R-inc): 47 (47)
Undecided: 9 (13)

Ron Kind (D): 46 (41)
Scott Walker (R-inc): 45 (47)
Undecided: 9 (12)

Russ Feingold (D): 52 (49)
Scott Walker (R-inc): 45 (46)
Undecided: 4 (5)

First things first: These numbers are quite a bit better than what we saw last October, when everyone except Russ Feingold trailed Walker. Feingold, of course, has said that he won't run, which is why I placed him last on the list just above. But as Tom Jensen notes, Feingold's favorability numbers are now the best they've been in quite some time, at 55-36, so perhaps he might be persuaded to change his mind. (His job approvals were under water (PDF) by the end of last cycle.) What's interesting is that Walker's own approvals have barely budged, from 47-51 last time to 47-52 now, which means the movement here has taken place on the Dem side.

The biggest jump for Team Blue has been for former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, who's climbed a net of nine points since October despite maintaining a negative favorability rating. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett also moved up (albeit not as much) turning in the next-best performance after Feingold. (Signs in recent weeks suggest Barrett is leaning toward a run.) But what jumps out at me is that pretty much every Democrat—regardless of name recognition or favorability—is at least competitive with Walker on paper. Indeed, no one trails by more than three points. I think this is similar to how "partisan-ized" last summer's Senate recalls became, where party label mattered more than almost any other consideration.

Well, any other consideration but one. Tom Jensen cautions:

Those are tenuous leads for the Democratic hopefuls. In the State Senate recall elections last summer we generally found that sentiment moved away from recalling the incumbents as the election came closer. And Wisconsin voters aren't exactly dying to remove Walker from office—49% generally support a recall and 49% generally oppose one... it's going to take a very strong Democratic campaign to knock Walker out. [...]

Recalling Scott Walker is still not going to be easy for Democrats. Based on what we saw last summer I'd say that a tie in the polls probably ultimately means a win for the incumbent.

If you followed last year's Senate races closely, you'll recall that Tom concluded that a certain percentage of voters (maybe 10%, maybe less, but not insignificant) are just opposed to the idea of recalls in general. That means this group will either sit out or vote against their natural inclinations because their feelings about recalls trump their feelings about the candidates. That means any recall challenger starts off in the hole and likely has to do better than tie in polling in order to prevail. The good news, though, is that Walker and his allies have been spending lots of money trying to fluff his image on the airwaves, but apparently those efforts haven't had much if any impact. So this contest is still very much a tossup.

Finally, PPP also tested two hypothetical Democratic primary scenarios, one with just the declared candidates, and one including Barrett (MoE: ±4.8%):

Kathleen Falk (D): 41
Doug LaFollette (D):  23
Kathleen Vinehout (D): 13
Undecided: 22

Tom Barrett (D): 45
Kathleen Falk (D): 18
Doug LaFollette (D): 14
Kathleen Vinehout (D): 6
Undecided: 17

As you can see, Falk is the favorite among the existing field, but she (and everyone else) get swamped if Barrett enters. Barrett ran against Walker in 2010 and, apart from Feingold, is the only Democrat viewed more favorably than unfavorably by voters (41-33). If he gets in, I wouldn't expect him to clear the field, since a number of labor unions strongly support Falk (and don't feel that warmly toward Barrett). But Vinehout, a relatively state senator, and LaFollette, the incredibly long-serving Secretary of State, may not want to stick around if Barrett enters.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Jumping into the crosstabs (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JVolvo, Puddytat, pHunbalanced

    It's interesting that when you look at the Democratic primary broken down by ideology, the only group Falk wins are the "very conservative."  

    They think (rightly, in my opinion) that Falk is a weaker candidate.  

    •  yep. In 2002 Gov primary she came in distant 3rd (4+ / 0-)

      only doing well in Dane County (vs Doyle 38.36% and Barrett 34.48% to Falk's 27.16%).  

      She lost to JB Van Hollen for AG in Dem wave year of 2006.  Outside of her Dane/Madison stronghold she's not a major force.  I want to defeat Walker, not endure another noteable loss with Falk   :o(

      As some may know, WEAC jumped to endorse her before any other Dem recall candidates announced.  WTF?  This is not the time for backroom deals, big $$ making our decisions nor party-politics-as-usual.

      Feh

      To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. - Theodore Roosevelt 1918

      by JVolvo on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 01:28:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wow, using right-wing memes.... (0+ / 0-)

        As you may have seen, she's surged 9 points since the last poll. She's doing better than "elder" statesman Obey.

        20, Dude, Chairman DKE Gay Caucus! (College IN-09) (Raised IL-03, IL-09) Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren for Senate!

        by ndrwmls10 on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 01:36:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Using WI history and reality. She's as smooth and (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bombay, Puddytat, pHunbalanced

          natural as Romney at a NASCAR event.  She jumped the news cycle of 1 million sigs delivery to announce.  I saw her zero times at the Capitol protests.

          Who wants elder statesman Obey?  He retired to avoid Tea Party wave of 2010 and works for...ready?...Gephardt Government Affairs on K Street.  Lobbying.  Nice.  No thanks.

          Any more wisdom for us up here fighting in WI?

          To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. - Theodore Roosevelt 1918

          by JVolvo on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 02:14:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Those aren't RW memes (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bombay, pHunbalanced, JVolvo

          They're well known facts in Wisconsin.  She just isn't well known statewide and doesn't do well in statewide contests.  The fact that she lost to dumbshit Van Hollen is a disgrace.

          I don't know why unions are jumping on board that fast.  We all know more are going to enter after the recall is certified.  She jumped onboard as soon as the petitions were turned in and that looks politically calculating to independents.

          It's still early and I'm holding out for others to step in.

          There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

          by Puddytat on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 10:14:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  She got more 50,000+ more votes than Barrett did. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Puddytat

        You can make comparisons all day long between 2006 and 2010, but the fact remains, there are more Kathleen Falk voters statewide than there are Barrett voters.

    •  She also does the best against Walker (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rosarugosa, Puddytat

      Among Republicans. She gets 5%, everyone else gets 3%, except Obey and Vinehout, who get 2%.

      That may well be floating within the margin of error though.

  •  Barrett better run (5+ / 0-)

    Falk's miserable approval numbers are a catastrophe.  How can anyone expect voters to remove someone from office and replace him with someone the like far less?

    It's probably moot, since Barrett is 95% likely to run, but having to wait till April while the clueless media focuses on the joke candidates who have announced already will be painful.

    Mr. Gorbachev, establish an Electoral College!

    by tommypaine on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 11:17:20 AM PST

    •  Exactly. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Puddytat, pHunbalanced

      Barrett has a much better chance of winning than Falk does.

      On another note, common wisdom seems to suggest that if Democrats lose the recall election then Walker is a shoo-in for 2014.  However, one wild-card I could foresee would be Feingold seeing the continuing damage Walker is doing to the state, and jumping into the 2014 race.  That would just about be our only hope if we don't win the recall election.  

      •  Fiengold's looking beyond Wisconsin (0+ / 0-)

        Feingold's main interest right now is national... he has paid lip service to the recall effort and concerns of liberals in this state, but either doesn't have the guts or desire to actually jump in the race.  

        He is playing a heavy role in the Obama reelction committee work here in Wisconsin (from what I heard, one of several honorary "chairs" of this particular group). He is friends with Obama from his senator days, and I believe he is looking for some sort of appointment at the national level when Obama wins in November.

        •  Actually Feingold did make a (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pHunbalanced, rosarugosa

          big deal about the recall.  He gave a great speech and insisted on signing the recall petition right after.  They brought the petition onstage.  

          Right now he's out selling his book, but I, too, hope he changes his mind, although I'm definitely not expecting him to.

          There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

          by Puddytat on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 10:16:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  If so, he better actually f*cking run a campaign (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pHunbalanced

      like he wants to win.  He played the same Careful and Cautious script as many former Dems across the country in Tea Party wave of 2010.

      If he milquetoasts it again and Walker stays in...jeebus.

      To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. - Theodore Roosevelt 1918

      by JVolvo on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 01:33:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Barrett is usually a good campaigner, but (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JVolvo

        in 2010 he really seemed like he didn't want it. It's well known that Gov Doyle and the Obama team worked hard to persuade him to go for it. I think this time, he won't run unless he really has decided he wants it. If he puts his whole heart in, he'll win.

        I'd still probably back Barca in a primary, since I believe that when Wisconsin gets to know him better, he becomes a stronger candidate than anyone but Feingold.

        I'll take Barrett over any of the three announced candidates though.

        1,000,000 Strong! TOTAL RECALL!

        by pHunbalanced on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 06:34:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Why does he have to wait til April? (0+ / 0-)

      That would be a huge mistake on his part. The primary is likely going to be in early May and the general in early June.

  •  Given the enthusiasm of the recallers (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IreGyre, JVolvo, Puddytat, pHunbalanced

    the fact that the poll surveyed all registered voters

    PPP surveyed 900 Wisconsin voters
    and not those who were 'likely' to vote in the recall election would seem to me to indicate that Walker is in a bit more trouble than this polling would indicate.
    •  I don't know what gives you the idea (6+ / 0-)

      that Republicans aren't equally hyped but I warn you against making such assumptions. Most Republicans, even those not overly enthused with Walker, see the recall as an abuse of the rules and are very angry about it. And while I'm sure the enthusiasm of the "recallers" is high, that is a tiny subset of WI-Dems that exists largely on the left-wing fringe of the party. Those votes were in the bad anyways. Hardly a winning coalition in and of itself. This race is still lean-R.

      (-7.62, -6.31), Blood type "O", Democratic-socialist, social anarchist, KY-01, "When smashing monuments, save the pedestals. They always come in handy." — Stanisław Lem

      by Setsuna Mudo on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 11:28:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Okay, you convinced me. (9+ / 0-)

        The million people who signed the recall petition are

        a tiny subset of WI-Dems that exists largely on the left-wing fringe of the party
        Got it.
      •  I agree with there being no enthusiasm gap (5+ / 0-)

        Republicans are definitely just as hyped about voting in the recall as Democrats are.  

        However, I'm not sure where you get the idea that 1 million voters is somehow a "tiny subset of WI-Dems that exists largely on the left-wing fringe of the party."

        •  How do you know this? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JVolvo, rosarugosa

          Just anecdotally or is there polling information that establishes this?

          •  Just a gut feeling (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pHunbalanced

            I do live in Wisconsin, and I get the sense that the GOP voters are just as enthusiastic as the Dems are.

            •  GOP voters are motivated (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rosarugosa, Puddytat, pHunbalanced

              They are ... I can't even begin to count the number of "I stand with Walker" signs that have popped up over just the past 7-10 days.  (they started weeks ago, but have increased exponentially very recently).

              Walker could have well publicized relations with a horse, and 40-45% or more of the state would vote for him regardless because of the (R) after his name (and then talk radio would find a way to blame and trash the horse over the incident).  Heck, even if he gets indicted in the next few weeks, you will still see him get at least 40% or more of the vote.  That's how unhinged many Republican voters have become.  There are some sane ones... but don't expect them to vote for Falk (or possibly even one of the other Dems).. they just might stay home.  Count on a heavy dose of mischief in a Dem primary.

      •  asdf (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JVolvo, rosarugosa, pHunbalanced
        while I'm sure the enthusiasm of the "recallers" is high, that is a tiny subset of WI-Dems that exists largely on the left-wing fringe of the party
        Could you provide some evidence of this?  I have seen nothing to suggest that people who are enthusiastic about the recall are such a small group.

        I changed by not changing at all, small town predicts my fate, perhaps that's what no one wants to see. -6.38, -4.15

        by James Allen on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 11:33:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Walker approval (3+ / 0-)

        As much as Democrats loathe Walker, Republicans love him even more.

        Job approval among Dems: 7% approve, 91% disapprove
        Job approval among Republicans: 92% approve, 6% disapprove

        Those 92% are not going to sit on their hands come time for a recall election.  

        •  if more comes out on the corruption... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JVolvo, Puddytat

          there will be a bleeding away of some Repubs... and add to that the ads that will educate some who have not been listening to realize just what a piece of work Walker is... not to mention that the media ignored a lot previously... a good story they will not ignore and a corruption story has legs...

          Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

          by IreGyre on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 12:31:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  We also know that there are more Democrats (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JVolvo, rosarugosa, pHunbalanced

          in the state than Republicans.

          20, Dude, Chairman DKE Gay Caucus! (College IN-09) (Raised IL-03, IL-09) Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren for Senate!

          by ndrwmls10 on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 01:05:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  There are... but.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pHunbalanced

            Problem is making sure they all show up.  They DIDN'T in the Milwaukee portion of state senate district 8 this summer, allowing Alberta Darling to beat Sandy Pasch in one of the summer senate recalls.  The number that showed up to vote for Obama in 2008 compared to the number that showed up to vote for Pasch was off by thousands.  

            A large percentage of the state is motivated (esp. anti-Walker folks)... but Dems need to get all of their peeps out to vote (and make sure voter ID is not an issue!)

      •  heh. Thanks for that scintillating analysis of (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sassy, rosarugosa, Puddytat, pHunbalanced

        what I've been living the last year.

        2010 WI eligible voters: 4,372,347
        2010 WI Gov votes: 2,158,974

        WI sigs needed for recall: 540,208
        Actual sigs collected for recall: 1,000,xxx (still verifying)

        Soooooooo we gathered almost twice the sigs needed which is almost 25% of all eligible WI voters.

        Please tell me again about this "tiny subset of WI-Dems...left-wing fringe..." of which you are so knowledgable...

        meh

        To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. - Theodore Roosevelt 1918

        by JVolvo on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 01:47:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Primaries are open in Wisconsin right? (0+ / 0-)

    Meaning Republicans simply "operation hilarity" vote for Vinehout and she wins as long as Barrett and Falk split the legit vote enough.  

    Dems will need to clear the deck before the primary.  

  •  Fake Democrat (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat

    I still haven't read any convincing explanations why Republicans won't be able to do what they did in the last round of recalls and put up a 'fake Democrat' for the gubernatorial recall, which could be disastrous in a contested primary.  Any discussion about this that I may have missed?

    •  uh, if they didn't come anywhere near (5+ / 0-)

      succeeding at that in low-turnout state senate primaries, I'm guessing they'd have absolutely no shot at that in a much higher-profile gubernatorial recall.

      I changed by not changing at all, small town predicts my fate, perhaps that's what no one wants to see. -6.38, -4.15

      by James Allen on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 11:52:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A couple things (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        David Nir

        First, they DID come close to succeeding in Shelly Moore's case - she won 54-46.

        Second, the higher-profile nature of this campaign can cut both ways.  Republicans are going to be paying attention to this as well as Democrats, and if 30-35% of recall primary voters are Republicans who vote for the 'fake' candidate then the real candidates could be in serious trouble.

    •  The whole purpose of the fake Democrats (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      James Allen, pHunbalanced

      was to get the general elections pushed back and allow Republicans to push through redistricting in case they lost their legislative majority.  It was actually a pretty successful tactic.

      There isn't much incentive to do the same for the gubernatorial election since it's guaranteed to have a primary.

      •  However they could just vote for weaker (0+ / 0-)

        candidate.  Barrett vs Falk they could vote Falk and make sure she wins.  

      •  That was the purpose last time (0+ / 0-)

        It doesn't mean it will be the purpose this time.  As noted above, the fake Democrat almost took out Shelly Moore last summer, even when Republicans really weren't trying that hard.  That surely won't be the case this time around.

        The recall primary is open to all comers.  If Walker and his allies get the word out that Republicans should vote for placeholder candidate Tom Smith in the recall primary, which is open to all, hardcore Republicans will vote for Tom Smith.  Will it be 50%?  No.  But it could be 30%, or even 40%.  That could be enough to beat the real Democrats in a 3- or 4-way race.  I still have not seen a good argument explaining why that will not happen other than blanket assertions that it can't happen, which isn't much of an argument.

    •  Jeez. Thank doG we here are not as concerned as (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rosarugosa, pHunbalanced

      so many kossacks.

      The ploy failed miserably last summer - other than buying ReThugs a few more weeks.

      No way a Ron Paul or fake Dem "sneaks" through in this.

      To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. - Theodore Roosevelt 1918

      by JVolvo on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 01:50:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some unusual situations (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rosarugosa, Puddytat, pHunbalanced

    Walker is a polarizing personality.  Very few are neutral (only 6%), so two factors are in play--1) gaining the majority of the 6% in the middle.  2)  Getting and keeping the base motivated.  

    Since Walker has already blanketed the state with his ads (pretty much without opposition), it is unlikely he can gain much on the strength of that advertising.  What happens to the state's economy and who is opponent is will tell the tale on whether the recall is successful.

  •  Wait a minute - look at Q24 (0+ / 0-)

    Wisconsin is supposed to be this 50:50 mix of liberals vs conservatives. But 29% of the people in this poll self-identified as liberal (very or somewhat) vs 40% who self-identified as conservative (very or somewhat) with 31% self-identifying as moderate. I don't see any correction in the poll results for this skew in the conservative direction. The results are pretty good as is, but they would be much better if they had gotten an even mix of liberals and conservatives.

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