Big spending and close polls in Wisconsin recall battle
May 16th, 2012
04:24 PM ET
10 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

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Filed under: 2012 • Scott Walker • Tom Barrett • Wisconsin
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. T'sah From Virginia

    Walker needs to GO!! I truly hope the Democrats win in this battle because of the outcry and the fact that half of the state is not happy. If they do not win, I truly hope it sends a message. Wisconsin is GROUND ZERO!!!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!

    May 16, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  2. vic , nashville ,tn

    I don’t care who wins but I like elections now because GOP spend more money , stimulating the local economy

    May 16, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  3. B

    The problem with polls that rely on calling landlines at random, cell phone users are excluded thus, limiting the sampling audience. There is a whole segment of the population that has not been surveyed. Landline users tend to be oldsters that sit at home and tend to vote conservative.

    May 16, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  4. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    aren't the police and fireman unions there in support of Walker? I guess it depends what union you belong to up there or who kisses up to the gov.

    May 16, 2012 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  5. Natalie

    No way to match the Koch Bros. spending; thanks a bunch the SCOTUS for making big money the decider of elections. Negative campaign ads unfortunately are our future. I pity the fools who take them at face value, or who take Fox Noise as "news" for that matter.

    May 16, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  6. Marcus

    Myviewis – FYI, the unions had problems with the portions of the bill that started it all that dealt with money, specifically the money from their members.
    BUT they say again and again, go check on youtube or wherever else, that they would pay their share.
    Yet, Walker and his parrots have been saying over and over and over again that this is all about money and that the unions don't want to pay their share of the sacrifice caused by Walker (according to the CBO's state equivalent in Wisconsin!).
    But you keep on parroting what Walker says...

    May 16, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  7. nurseteacher

    I hope the polls are wrong! Come on Wisconsin, save teachers, nurses, policemen, firemen and other very important people and their jobs. Please make a stand for children, patients, and those who need to be protected by our firemen and policemen. Please look at your future, our children and see that they get a good education. Walker is out to destroy. Do not let the Koch brothers tell you what to think or how to vote. Do not let a dictator take over your thoughts. Vote for what is best for you, not what is best for the Koch family and Walker.

    May 16, 2012 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  8. Marcus

    The Legislative Fiscal Bureau is Wisconsin's 'CBO' and doesn't support any of Walker's claims about the causes of the economic crisis he tried to solve with that bill of his nor any of his 'projections' on the impacts of the bill.
    Before anyone points out, the Fiscal Bureau is non-partisan and was trouble for many disputable (to say the least) affirmations of Democrat governors of Wisconsin as well.

    May 16, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  9. Slightly Left of Center

    Unions destroy America? UNIONS BUILT AMERICA!!

    May 16, 2012 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
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