MADISON, Wisc. — With under 24 hours to go before the polls open in Wisconsin, there is growing agreement on the eventual outcome of the special election for governor: that embattled Republican Gov. Scott Walker will not only survive the challenge from Democrat Tom Barrett, but do so quite comfortably.
A recent Rasmussen Poll showed Walker leading Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett among likely voters by a margin of 50-to-45 percent statewide. Monday, a Marquette Poll showed Walker leading Barrett 52 to 45 percent, the largest lead for the 43-year-old governor in any survey since last year, when labor unions-furious at the legislature’s enactment of Walker-crafted measures to limit collective bargaining among some public sector employees and require them to pay for a greater share of their retirement and health benefits-collected more than twice the signatures on petitions required to place Walker on the Badger State ballot again.
On Sunday night, a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm, showed Republican Walker leading Democrat Barrett by a margin of 50-to-47 percent.
“The governor has barnstormed the state, getting up early and working until late at night, and never retreating from conservative principles,??? veteran Republican consultant Scott Becher told Human Events Sunday, “He has not strayed from his message. And his months of hard work pushing Wisconsin are paying off.???
Little reported in the national press is the fact that the state’s first woman lieutenant governor and three GOP state senators who backed Walker on his controversial reforms are also facing the voters Tuesday.
Republican sources who spoke to Human Events generally agree that Lieutenant Governor and former television reporter Rebecca Kleefisch will overcome Democrat Mahlon Mitchell, a Firefighters Union leader. But they also expressed concern over the fates of GOP Sens. Terry Moulton (Chippewa Falls) and Van Wanggard (Racine), whom unions and the Democrats have targeted for extinction.
“If either of them goes down Tuesday, then Democrats win control of the Senate,??? said Becher, noting that Republicans and Democrats are now tied in the Senate, with 18 seats each and one vacancy. “And that would make it more difficult to pass any further reform legislation dealing with public sector employees.???
Also on the ballot in a recall election Tuesday is State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, one of the key players in securing passage of the Walker proposals and the brother of Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald. Also on the ballot is the special election to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Sen. Pam Galloway. Republican State Rep. Jerry Petrowski is favored in the Wausau-area district.
With White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and Democratic National Chairman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz downplaying any possible impact of a Walker triumph on national politics, it is nonetheless very likely that they and their allies on the left will trumpet a Democratic takeover of the senate as proof that Walker’s conservative agenda was not endorsed completely by Wisconsin voters. For now, the governor and his Republican allies are, to use a phrase of Ronald Reagan’s, “cautiously optimistic.???