In the wake of Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker’s recall election victory, new polls show Mitt Romney leading President Obama for the first time, and President Obama’s support at its lowest level to date.
A Rasmussen poll reports that statewide telephone survey records show likely Wisconsin voters supporting Romney over Obama 47 percent to 44 percent. Last month, Obama led Romney 49 percent to 45 percent and in March, the president led by 11 points, 52 percent to 41 percent.
In the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama easily took Wisconsin, by 14 points, and Democrats have carried Wisconsin in every political election since 1988. But this time around, Republicans may find the state actually worth fighting for. A Rasmussen report released just today shows Wisconsin voters trusting Mitt Romney more than Obama to handle the economy, 50 percent to 42 percent respectively.
During last week’s recall election drama, Obama resisted Democratic appeals to campaign on behalf of Walker’s competitor, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, trying to avoid linking himself to the election outcome. The president’s past attempts to wade into state politics—see Obama’s 2010 campaign for Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate to replace the late Senator Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts, who ultimately lost the election—have had mixed results, and the president has his own precarious reelection and political brand to consider. As Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch put it, “If I were the president, I wouldn’t want to be attached to a loss.”
The real “loss,” however, as demonstrated by Wisconsin voters, is job-killing policies and fiscal irresponsibility. Walker’s reforms, which intentionally weakened and inevitably enraged labor unions, turned Wisconsin’s $3.6 billion deficit into a $90 million surplus without raising taxes. As The Washington Examiner reported, one of Walker’s new laws gives “workers a choice whether or not union bosses could take dues directly from their paychecks.” Since that law passed, government union membership has fallen by more than half. Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest national employment report shows that Wisconsin added 23,300 public and private sector jobs in 2011, which was Walker’s first year as governor.
Under Walker’s leadership, 1,200 more teachers were hired than were laid off, Wisconsin has a budget surplus, and Wisconsin’s April 2012 unemployment rate, taken from the most recent data available, fell to only 6.7 percent, significantly below the 8.2 percent unemployment national average. Additionally, 94 percent of employers in Wisconsin approve of the job the governor’s office is doing, up from only 10 percent when Walker took office.
Wisconsin has ten electoral votes at stake in November’s 2012 presidential election, and jobs and the economy are voters’ primary concern. The voters of Wisconsin understand what big labor refuses or is unable to recognize: swollen political power of unions cripples an economy, burdens the taxpayers, and paralyzes job growth.
Voters across the nation witnessed Democrats’ failure to oust Walker as well as the successes of Walker’s economic policies. Obama can’t hide from his failed fiscal policies and miserable job growth and the polls in Wisconsin, a state he previously carried, are beginning to show it.
Last week, Wisconsin voters rewarded Walker’s political courage and economic results by keeping him in office as governor. In the lead up to November, Obama should definitely be feeling nervous.