Wisconsin recall election looks like a close race
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Political eyes will be on Wisconsin in coming weeks, as a state prepares for a June recall election that has become a national showdown over union rights.
A poll released this week shows that Gov. Scott Walker is in a statistical tie with his chief Democratic rival, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
Huge amounts of money are pouring into Wisconsin for the election, with conservatives around the country supporting Walker and unions backing the Democrats.
Walker enraged Democrats last year when he pushed through a measure reducing the powers of public sector unions. Opponents gathered nearly 1 million signatures to force the governor into a recall election.
If he loses, he'll be only the third U.S. governor removed from office in a recall election.
A primary will be held Tuesday to determine Walker's opponent, and the election is set for June 5.
Political scientist Charles Franklin is on a year-long leave from the University of Wisconsin -Madison to lead a political polling project at Marquette University Law School.
He said recalling Walker is important to Democratic voters in the state, but it's not the top issue.
"Forty-six percent [of Democratic primary voters] said create new jobs, 25 percent said defeat Scott Walker, and just 12 percent — the fourth place choice — said restore collective bargaining," Franklin said.
Franklin also said that about two-thirds of the campaign money raised by Walker has come from outside of Wisconsin:
"But it reflects Governor Walker's appeal among Republican and conservative voters nationwide who see what he's done in Wisconsin as bold moves that they fully support," Franklin said. "Democrats, of course, have a different view. But it also shows how much he really has become a bit of a national figure around the Wisconsin labor changes."
Democrats launched the recall effort against Walker after he signed legislation curtailing the bargaining rights of state worker unions. In a head-to-head poll of likely voters, Franklin says Walker leads Barrett by a single percentage point.
- Morning Edition, 05/04/2012, 8:15 a.m.