Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Is State Suffering Walker Fatigue?

One clear sign would be if Leah Vukmir loses U.S. Senate primary.

By - Jun 26th, 2018 11:43 am
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Gov. Scott Walker and State Sen. Leah Vukmir.

Gov. Scott Walker and State Sen. Leah Vukmir.

The hope for Democrats in the race for governor is that voters might be suffering from Walker fatigue. 

Including his presidential campaign and his recall campaign, there have been four political campaigns for Scott Walker since 2010, as Appleton Post Crescent reporter Madeleine Behr has written, and “citizens who aren’t fervent supporters may be growing fatigued and might want a fresh candidate.” “With eight years of baggage as governor… I think people are ready for a change,”Joe Zepecki, a Democratic strategist told the newspaper.

There’s more enthusiasm among Democratic voters, as La Crosse County Republican Party Chairman Bill Feehan admitted in a Wisconsin State Journal story. “Yeah, there’s a difference in enthusiasm and politics is governed by cycles,” he admitted, while adding that he wasn’t worried for Walker.  

Democrats point to the recent elections in Wisconsin, including four special elections for the legislature and the race for State Supreme Court, where Democrats outperformed the results state-wide and in all four legislative districts, compared to the 2016 presidential election and 2014 race for governor. On average, as Democratic analyst Tom Russell has noted, the Democrats improved their percentage by 21.6 percentage points over 2014 and 18.4 points over 2016. 

Wisconsin’s Democratic swing in special elections is sixth highest among all the states, behind only Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama and Pennsylvania, as the analytical website fivethirtyeight.com found.

That sounds impressive, but special elections, and even the race for Supreme Court, had a much lower turnout than the November race for governor will have. Will that huge switch in party preference occur with a far higher turnout of voters? 

One sign to the contrary is suggested by the recent Marquette University Law School poll, which found that 71 percent of Democrats are “very excited” about the upcoming elections compared to just 67 percent of Republicans.  That four point difference is below the national enthusiasm edge of seven percent for Democrats nationally, as measured by a recent CNN poll. (And that was down significantly from a 14 point enthusiasm edge as recently as April.)

The enthusiasm edge is critical, because it’s a way of measuring possible turnout. Walker’s job approval stands at 49 percent, with 47 percent disapproving, in the most recent MU Poll, which suggests the governor cannot afford a big enthusiasm gap, nor even a minor outbreak of “Walker fatigue.” 

Yes, the poll shows Walker leading every possible Democratic candidate for governor, but a huge percentage of respondents don’t know enough about the Democratic candidate to have an opinion, whereas all have an opinion of Walker. The governor’s four point edge in a matchup with leading Democrat Tony Evers thus looks far from formidable, considering 61 percent have no opinion of Evers at this point.  

One Republican who clearly doesn’t think there’s a fatigue factor is state Sen. Leah Vukmir, who is betting her whole race in the primary for U.S. Senate on Walker’s popularity. Vukmir is clearly the GOP establishment candidate against Democrat-turned-Republican Kevin Nicholson. She won the party’s endorsement after an overwhelming 73 percent of delegates at the state Republican convention chose her over Nicholson. She has been endorsed by Republican congressmen Paul Ryan and F. James Sensenbrenner. 

But Vukmir isn’t just running as the GOP establishment candidate, but more specifically as the pro-Walker candidate. Technically the governor is neutral in the Senate race, but his wife Tonette has endorsed Vukmir and the latter finds every opportunity to announce her kinship with the governor. From her first piece of literature, which declared that “Leah Stands With Governor Walker. Stand With Her,” to a radio ad declaring that “Leah stood with Governor Scott Walker and Republican leaders in the tough fights that made the Wisconsin comeback possible,” she has repeatedly portrayed her and Walker as a team. 

Her controversial ad featuring the candidate with a handgun, presumably to fight off the death threats Vukmir claims she’s received, was all about her and governor: “When Scott Walker and I beat the union bosses, cut billions in taxes and defunded Planned Parenthood, the left couldn’t take it.” The message is a repeat of everything Walker has stood for since 2011. 

But that’s not the message Walker seems to be emphasizing. The ever-canny politician clearly seems worried about wearing out his welcome. His warnings about a “blue wave” may have simply been a calculated pitch to campaign funders,  More telling is how he is recasting himself as the “education governor,” a big change from his longtime portrayal as the pro-business, low-taxes governor. It’s the new Scott Walker for those tired of the old one.

The Republican establishment clearly backs Vukmir and most in the party expect her to win the primary. But the Marquette poll shows Nicholson with the lead, with 37 percent of those expressing a preference, to 32 percent for Vukmir. Nicholson is campaigning as the anti-establishment outsider, so his victory would clearly be a rebuke of the party he proposes to represent. But more specifically it might show that even GOP voters are tiring of everything Scott and his loyal lieutenant Leah have been preaching for eight years.  

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Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

12 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Is State Suffering Walker Fatigue?”

  1. PMD says:

    What about the prospect of Walker and Baldwin winning? What are the chances of that happening?

  2. TosaCompadre says:

    yeah, why vote for Walker when you could vote for David Crosby, I mean Paul Soglin. Or Transmutation Girl e.g. Kelda who can change her sexual preferences at a moments notice! And then there’s Tony ‘Telflon Abacus’ Evers – bring back the State Teachers Union Health Insurance slush fund! Such a great deal for Teachers! (but no one else)

    and then there’s… um… you know…um, those other guys with their compelling vision of socialism. Don’t forget ‘nice guy’ Barrett. If the Foxconn thing works out I’m sure he’ll explain how it’s really a result of the Trolley.

    Really clever headline – no one even knew they were tired of Walker until you planted the seed! Why, yes, now that you mention it! Hey, how do I feel about subsidizing the Junk Bond Dealers hobby – the Brewers? How do I feel about my own civil rights being violated by the traffic mayhem on Capitol Drive, or just about anywhere in MKE County? Let me know! It could be worth a cool 5 Mil!

  3. Paddy says:

    “The governor’s four point edge in a matchup with leading Democrat Tony Evers thus looks far from formidable, considering 61 percent have no opinion of Evers at this point.”

    That sentence could be interpreted several ways. What are you try to say there Mr. Murphy?

  4. fightingbobfan says:

    Walker is the “education” governor? How about the “roads” governor? Or how about the “environment” governor? Well then, the “broadband” governor?

    He can reinvent his brains out. Fact is, if he didn’t make things happen during the last eight years, what makes you think he can do it in the next four?

    Wisconsin lags behind this area of the country in practically every measure. He has changed the state motto from “Forward” to “Stuck.”

    Walker has had his chance. Time to move on.

  5. Troll says:

    Good article. I hope Kelda wins. She can explain why her and her partner had to run off to Iowa to get married to escape oppressive Wisconsin. Kelda married a man but pretended she was gay as she ran for Congress in Madison.

  6. Caligula says:

    No way! We are suffering libtard fatigue! That’s why Walker will win again and again. Deal with it LOSER LIBTARDS!! No term limits in Wisconsin means Gov. Walker will be Governor for many years to come if not forever and thanks to republican gerrymandering, even if libtard democrats wina huge majority of the votes, republicans still win the legislative seats! Thus republicans will be in full control forever thank Go and there is NOTHING libtard loser democrats can do about it! Lol!! Deal with it LOSER LIBTARDS!

    Hail Trump!
    Vote Walker!!
    Governor for LIFE!!

  7. Greg Walz-Chojnacki says:

    Interesting article Bruce. (Not so interesting ravings in the comments section.)

    [Not to trolls: If you’re going to look me up and leave an nasty voicemail, at least have the courage to identify yourself — though based on previous experience, that’s asking a lot.]

  8. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Greg that are the things that the Left does, ask Maxine.

    Fact the whole state is suffering from Milwaukee fatigue, the 8th worst crime ridden city in country. Higher per capita then Chicago. Plus all the other bad things about it. Lousy Leaders, MPS “National Disgrace”.

  9. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Everything that Doyle/Barrett on which they have failed, Walker has fixed. Money, fiscal, budgets, lowest unemployment in our history.

  10. fightingbobfan says:

    Coming out of the recession, Wisconsin under Doyle was 11th in job creation, which dropped to the 30s under Walker and where it has been ever since.

    Is there another sate with a governor by the name of Walker, because in this one roads are crumbling, we are running up debt, the education system is bleeding teachers, incomes are not keeping pace, and businesses are allowed to dump whatever they want into the water and air.

  11. fightingbobfan says:

    Voters, keep this in mind. When Walker proposes something ask yourself. If he didn’t do it over the past eight years, what makes you think another four will enable him to do it?

  12. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Thanks fro the laugh this morning. Voters have rejected your BS three times and more. Fact is that what you speak is about Doyle’s record and Barrett disaster.

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