Big spending and close polls in Wisconsin recall battle
May 16th, 2012
04:24 PM ET
3 years ago

Big spending and close polls in Wisconsin recall battle

(CNN) - With just under three weeks to go until the recall election of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a new poll indicates that the Republican governor holds a six point advantage over his Democratic challenger.

And, while the race remains close, there is one thing on the rise: ad spending.

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According to a Marquette Law School poll released Wednesday, 50% of people likely to vote in Wisconsin's June 5 election say they back Walker, with 44% saying they support Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and three percent unsure. The Democratic candidate won his party's primary last week, setting up a rematch with Walker from the 2010 election, that Walker won by five points.

Walker's 6-point advantage in the new poll is up from a one point 48%-47% margin over Barrett in a Marquette Law School survey conducted last month.

Republican Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch also faces a recall election. The poll indicates she holds a 47%-41% advantage over Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin President Mahlon Mitchell in that recall election, with 10% undecided.

Walker set off a firestorm in January 2010 when he moved to curtail the collective bargaining rights of most Wisconsin state employees.

With majorities in both houses of the legislature, Walker and his GOP allies voted to limit raises for public employees except police and firefighters to the rate of inflation, bar unions from deducting dues from workers' paychecks and force them to hold a new certification vote every year. That bill was signed into law in March, following weeks of protests at the state capitol building in Madison.

Republicans insisted it was necessary to control the skyrocketing costs of public employee benefits and close the budget shortfall. Democrats argued it was an attempt to gut public-sector labor unions, one of their core constituencies.

The public demonstrations all but shut down the Wisconsin state legislature for weeks. It also drew protesters by the tens of thousands, among them union supporters and public employees, who called the measure an attack on workers. A group of Democratic lawmakers left the state for some time in an effort to not allow a quorum for a vote.

The state Supreme Court upheld the controversial law in June, but the battle sparked a storm of political activism that led to the recall effort. The election was scheduled earlier this year, after more than 900,000 signatures petitioning for a recall of the first-term governor were collected.

This would be the first time in Wisconsin's history that a governor has faced recall. There have only been two successful gubernatorial recalls in the nation's history: California Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 and North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier in 1921.

Big bucks are being raised and spent in the recall effort. Both tea party groups and other grassroots and fiscal conservative organizations on the right, and labor groups and progressive organizations on the left, as well as the campaigns and Democratic and Republican party committees, have been pouring in money to build up get out the vote efforts, and to put up TV commercials.

According to Kantar Media/Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political ad spending, nearly $11 million has been spent from the beginning of November through Monday to run recall television commercials in Wisconsin.

"The amount of spending is especially impressive given the compressed schedule for the recall and the fact that Wisconsin has just one expensive media market, Milwaukee, CMAG Vice President Elizabeth Wilner tells CNN. "Recall advertisers have basically road-blocked the airwaves to such a degree that presidential advertisers are steering clear, despite Wisconsin being a battleground state."

And with just under three weeks to go until the recall contest, expect ad spending to soar even higher.

The Marquette Law School poll was conducted May 9-12, with 600 likely Wisconsin recall election voters questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

CNN's Gregory Wallace contributed to this story

Also see:

Romney: Debt is like 'prairie fire'

Obama to accept on night of MTV awards

Romney jabs Obama-Clinton relationship


Filed under: 2012 • Scott Walker • Tom Barrett • Wisconsin
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    50% of people likely to vote in Wisconsin's June 5 election say they back Walker,
    ===========================================================
    Ahhhhhh...... corrupt leftist union fools going down to defeat again. Good news for the people of Wisconsin.
    Can we send them the bill for the millions of dollars they've wasted with their infantile tantrum???

    May 16, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. Woman In California

    I'll say it again – unfortunately, it looks like this jerk Walker is going to keep his job. As for the people in Wisconsin – don't cry when the sky falls in on you.

    May 16, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  3. Myviewis

    Walker is ahead because people realized he was correct.

    May 16, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  4. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE/ConservaFASCISTS

    How much Koch Bros. money has been donated to Walker???

    May 16, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. Larry L

    The Republicans are spending lots of money to destroy labor unions and the voices of the working people. It's hard to imagine Wisconsin falling prey to the Tea Party and fat-cats radical efforts. Walker has been taking the state on a trip down the toilet.

    May 16, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  6. Bill

    If Wisconsinites are so foolish to keep Walker, they deserve everything they get. Which will be more job losses for teachers and public safety officers, cuts to education and marginalizing the middle class.

    May 16, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  7. Sponge-Bob

    Wisconsin will have a budget surplus next year, if they would have voted Dem it would be the other way around. Property taxes have gone down and no one was fired. The unions and DNC also spent millions but I guess that's Ok?

    May 16, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  8. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    Larry L – The Republicans are spending lots of money to destroy labor unions and the voices of the working people.
    ==================================================================================
    Labor unions are destroying themselves, the states and companies with their greedy thug-like actions. The voices of the true working people, the taxpayers, is being heard lound and clear. You fools do NOT represent the people of the state, just your own greedy union demands.

    May 16, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  9. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE/ConservaFASCISTS
    How much Koch Bros. money has been donated to Walker???
    =====================================================
    How much union money has been wasted on this bad joke? And will the unions foot the cost of this recall election if they lose? Or will the Wisconsin taxpayers get screwed by them yet again?

    May 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  10. 2020

    Hope Wisconsin comes out a winner, for the people.

    May 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  11. anonymous

    +/- 4% margin of error means that poll is statistically NOT VAILD.

    Unions keep workers from being exploited by the rich/those in charge. when worker explpoitation hits 0 then I will agree with anyone who says Unions are no longer needed.
    Anonymous

    May 16, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  12. Maggie

    There is someone who has the guts to fight the unions and because of that he was recalled. Unions destroy countries and that is what is going to happen to America if they are not stopped. He is making Wisconsin a better place and yet the unions are trying their best to oust him but its not going to work. Walker will win and I hope they will get the message!!!!!!!!! The unions like to bully everybody into thinking their way while they destroy our country but its good to see Walker stood his ground with them. Obama has no backbone to do the same because they are giving him millions for his campaign... He is being bought by the unions.

    May 16, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. NOvember 2012

    Wis will survive and do well...they will keep Walker in. Now California is another story, people who have money are running out of that state...they elected Brown AGAIN when they had a $9,000,000,000.00 problem...now they have a $16,000,000,000.00 problem. Those who have money are leaving California as are those in Greece and France, they are leaving the mess to those who created it! Another Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged) projection coming to pass. The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know.

    May 16, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    -Obama 2012 – BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    50% of people likely to vote in Wisconsin's June 5 election say they back Walker,
    ===========================================================
    Ahhhhhh...... corrupt leftist union fools going down to defeat again. Good news for the people of Wisconsin.
    Can we send them the bill for the millions of dollars they've wasted with their infantile tantrum???
    *******************
    As opposed the corrupt rightie fools that buy elections and fire people for fun? Its already cost the people of WI billions because of lost jobs and businesses leaving the state.

    May 16, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  15. once upon a horse

    even if he wins it just has to be an INSULT that he was even trying to be recalled. Another election that Citizens United has it's fingerprints all over.

    May 16, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  16. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE/ConservaFASCISTS

    The Republicans are spending lots of money to destroy labor unions and the voices of the working people.
    ------------------------------------------–
    What's going on in Wisconsin is fascism at it's finest. WE, THE PEOPLE, need to march on the SCOTUS.

    May 16, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  17. Chipster

    Why do working, middle class Americans vote against their own interests? Our middle class is disappearing and we're becoming a 3rd world country because people are electing Republicans who bust unions, oppose minimum wage, and do just about everything they can to reduce salaries and benefits for the poor and middle class. Then they cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and send our jobs overseas. Our workers are no longer earning enough to purchase products unless they're made in some country that uses flimsy, hazardous materials and labor at $2 or $3 per day. Is this really what we want here? I hope so because, when you vote for Republicans, that's exactly what you're voting for! Oh, they'll play the abortion game to get your vote but they'll never ban abortion. They made no effort to do it when Bush had Republicans in both houses of Congress and a stacked deck on the Supreme Court.

    May 16, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  18. Myviewis

    I think the labor Unions and the working people in Wisconsin have done a pretty good job destroying themselves with all their abuse and demands that no business nor our government can afford anymore and action needed to be taken or the whole ship will sink.

    May 16, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    "Wis will survive and do well...they will keep Walker in."

    Yeah. Because being rated at worst in the country for job growth since Walker took over really got things going in the right direction for Wisconsin, huh?

    May 16, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  20. Beverly - NYC

    After all the mega bucks are spent, it comes down to one person one vote. How the polls can be this close after Walker's divide and conquer tatics. If Walker keeps his seat, he strikes me as the type to hold a grudge.

    May 16, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  21. Dan

    What do President Obama and Governor Walker have in common?

    Their elections are tied to a single issue. Whether people believe things are getting better or not.

    If Walker wins, it's expected President Obama will also win Wisconsin.
    If Walker loses, than people in Wisconsin do no believe things are getting better and President Obama will lose Wisconsin.

    Both sides of the isle may not like it, but that's the fact.

    May 16, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  22. Niemiec

    People vote for Republicans because fiscal responsibility is necessary. Note that Walker's Republicans only limited the power of public employee unions. Public sector unions naturally have a relatively grotesque amount of power relative to their private counterparts because the government is required by law to get particular jobs done. Public unions can use this as incredible leverage against their employers in terms of benefits and wages. Legal differentiation between public and private sector unions is necessary to counteract this imbalance of power. Just like unions exist to protect workers from abusive employment practices, legal restrictions must exist to protect employers like the government from highly powerful union bosses.

    May 16, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  23. Cynthia L.

    Wisconsin didn't have a budget shortfall when Walker became Gov.. He gave his rich cronies and his personal staff raises with funds belonging to the state. If he thought there was a problem with money then, why the robbing of the state treasury to fund his 'special friends'? He's a dishonest rat.

    May 16, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  24. California Conservative

    The people of this country support Walker.

    True Americans support Walker.

    The majority obviously support Walker.

    May 16, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  25. MaryM

    Walker will be recalled. period. Oh and btw, why does Walker need a defense fund. Huh? Sounds like he is expecting to be indited for something.

    May 16, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
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