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The voting response to Scott Walker doesn't seem to line up with voters' actual thoughts on his policies.

Poll position: Somehow, Walker is more popular than his policies


Yeah, I know what you're thinking. "Oh, look, it's a day that ends in Y, so Bullock is slamming Scott Walker again." You bet! But this day, I have new results from the Marquette University Law School poll to talk about, and since the poll has been eerily accurate – nailing Gov. Walker's recall win in 2012, for example – the results are worth paying attention to.

What most struck me about the most recent poll release is not just the way this race remains close – closer than the 2012 race ever was – but rather the way Walker remains popular even though the same people polled seem to dislike his policy positions.

One obvious example: In July, Walker called for a "repeal" of the Common Core State Standards (a stupid idea, as I said at the time). Among actual people, 57 percent said they had a favorable or very favorable opinion of the Common Core. Compare that to Walker's own approval rating of 47 percent, which is also the percentage of voters willing to vote for him again.

Common Core may not be the best analog here, as I expect very few people will actually be motivated by that issue alone to hit their polling places in November. But all the way down the poll, the result is the same: Almost every conservative or Republican policy preference is rejected by the voters, the same voters who somehow give Walker an edge among registered voters.

Raising the minimum wage, something else I've advocated in these pages, is also popular among the voters of Wisconsin. Again, we get 57 percent of the state's registered voters supporting an higher minimum wage. Walker, who opposes raising the minimum wage, is apparently getting the votes of some of those who would like to see it increased.

Tax cuts are one of Walker's signature moves over the last three years. In fact, last week the state's Department of Revenue announced that the fiscal year just ended left us with a nearly $300 million shortfall, in part, analysts and legislators (even Republican ones) have argued, because Walker and Republicans cut taxes so steeply. In the Marquette poll, 59 percent of registered voters said they believed tax cuts don't help the poor or the middle class, just the wealthy.

That the last couple of weeks have also seen a release of additional "John Doe" investigation documents that show Walker and his campaign solicited the wealthy for unlimited and anonymous donations for his recall campaign. You'd think more people would be able to put together that Walker, through his tax cut policies, is favoring those who support his campaign and not, apparently, the people willing to vote for him.

Speaking of, 76 percent of voters support requiring groups who advertise in elections to disclose the names of their donors. Not Walker, as the emails clearly show.

Here's another: 58 percent of voters want the state to accept the Medicaid expansion that came with the Affordable Care Act (colloquially known as Obamacare). Walker has made the rejection of that expansion – and the millions in federal dollars that come with it – a centerpiece of what seems like a probable 2016 presidential run.

You can't very well run against Democrats, the theory goes, by embracing their signature recent policy victory (cf. Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry). Again, a significant number of people planning to vote for Walker disapprove of this critical aspect of his policy.

This is not to say that nothing Walker does is popular. Both voter ID and Act 10 – his antiunion law – were overall popular with voters at 63 percent and 46 percent respectively. And to be fair, Obamacare as a whole had a 53 percent disapproval rating despite people's support of its Medicaid expansion. Further, poll-crunchers at the home of America's stats whiz Nate Silver say that Walker is still the favorite despite his weak showing in the Marquette polls.

Still, Walker himself is inexplicably more popular than the policy positions he himself supports.

Walker's personal shill Christian Schneider, who writes at Milwaukee's daily paper, suggested over the weekend that Walker is flagging in the polls because he lacks a "foil," a big bad wolf, if you will, that he can paint as the bad guy and run against the way he did unions in 2012.

If Walker really wants a foil, someone to run against, I suggest "the voters of Wisconsin," as that's who Walker seems most at war with right now.

Talkbacks

fetlarpo | Sept. 3, 2014 at 6:29 p.m. (report)

Jay, I still think you hit in on the head in an article that you wrote in the spring. Walker can say I put more money into Badger care than any other Governor in Wisconsin history, or that he froze tuition for college students for four years. He can say he froze property taxes for four years and that more children in poverty can escape MPS for good private education like Marquette High school. It wont resonate because in the end the drones will say that Scott Walker doesnt care about you. Still I hear people parrot silly things like Walker will make poor children starve or that he stole money from education. Even Tom Barrett stated in a political add in 2010 that he would put Wisconsin government on a diet. Walker did just that.

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blurondo | Sept. 3, 2014 at 9:26 a.m. (report)

Wrong way Walker has his big bad wolf. It's the city of Milwaukee, where all those bad black people live. Race is always the force that drives all things political.

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AndrewJ | Sept. 3, 2014 at 8:38 a.m. (report)

54% of people think the state is headed in the right direction. 35% of people do not know who Mary Burke is. Thanks for playing.

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mikeb | Sept. 2, 2014 at 7:44 p.m. (report)

Here's the thing Jay you need to have someone to beat someone. Walker beat the original empty suit Tom Barrett in his first gubernatorial win and then beat him again. Barrett basically ran on some platitudes of not being Scott Walker and somehow managed to lose by an even bigger margin the second time around. In this one you are running another empty suit in Mary Burke. Whilst Mary did work in the family business she hasn't worked much at all the last 10 or so years. So I'm guessing her finger isn't exactly on the pulse of the average Wisconsin voter. I know some are crediting her with Trek's growth, but anyone who knows the industry knows that Trek exploded when Lance Armstrong started to win tours. So while some of Waker's policies may not be popular he'll win again. And for what it's worth some of Burke's policies wouldn't be popular. I'll bet on a referendum that things like concealed carry, Act 10 and Voter ID would be pretty popular.

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