A lot of polls have come out in the past couple days showing Scott Walker’s rising unfavorables in Wisconsin. But Walker won’t be on the ballot anytime soon. Just a week from tomorrow, Wisconsin voters will go to the polls in another statewide race for the state Supreme Court. And there’s been precious little polling of that race between incumbent Justice David Prosser, the Republican former leader of the state Assembly, and Democrat JoAnn Kloppenburg, an Assistant US Attorney. But if we’re to believe Robert Costa at National Review, that race is a dead-heat, a bad sign for the incumbent.
Two sources with knowledge of internal GOP polling tell us that Prosser and Kloppenburg are near even, a bad sign for the incumbent. “She has driven his negatives up,” one source says. “It will be hard to drive hers up. Her lack of judicial experience should hurt her, but it also makes her harder to pin down. The question now is: Does the Right have enough resources to counter the Greater Wisconsin Committee’s millions? And even if they do, is it too late? It is going to be touch-and-go for these last few days.”
This is pretty bad for Prosser, as these elections are typically rubber-stamps for the incumbent.
It’s amusing that the Greater Wisconsin Committee, a progressive group which has done independent advertising in the race, is depicted as some kind of behemoth. We know that the lobbying group Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce are soliciting “unlimited and undisclosed donations” in support of Walker. The Wisconsin Club for Growth is also intervening on Prosser’s behalf. Incidentally, without Citizens United, such undisclosed corporate donations would have been illegal.
It has been known for some time that both sides would spend a lot of money on this race in independent expenditures (the candidates themselves are taking public funding). Neither candidate lacks for resources spent on their behalf. It’s just that the message connecting Prosser to Walker, one which until a few weeks ago Prosser was proud to own, is sticking.
This is a special election and the state Supreme Court race is practically the only thing on the ballot in most districts. Turnout, expected to be at only around 20%, will be a major factor, and the enthusiasm gap looks to favor the anti-Walker, anti-Prosser crowd. The race has become part of the narrative for reformers in Wisconsin, and the fact that the Republicans are thumbing their nose at the entire legal process cannot help Prosser.
Finally, I notice some discomfort with a state Supreme Court race being on the ballot at all. But this is standard practice in Wisconsin, and I’m not about to criticize a process that has existed in the state well before anyone heard of Scott Walker.