What is likely to be the final poll out of Wisconsin before tomorrow’s recall election shows Scott Walker effectively in the same place he’s been for the past month, pinned right at 50%, with a small lead over Tom Barrett. Public Policy Polling believes that some slight momentum has moved to Barrett’s side, and that turnout will make the difference:
PPP’s final poll on the Wisconsin recall finds Scott Walker ahead, but also a race that’s tightening. Walker leads Tom Barrett 50-47. That’s down from 50-45 on a PPP poll conducted three weeks ago and it’s also down from a 52-45 lead that Walker posted in a Marquette Law poll released last week.
Barrett is actually winning independent voters by a 48-46 margin. The reason he continues to trail overall is that Republicans are more excited about voting in Tuesday’s election than Democrats are. Our projected electorate voted for Barack Obama by only 7 points, even though he took the state by 14 in 2008. If the folks who turn out on Tuesday actually matched the 2008 electorate, Barrett would be ahead of Walker by a 50-49 margin. It’s cliche but this is a race that really is going to completely come down to turnout.
We talked about turnout over the weekend, particularly in those high-propensity Democratic areas of Madison and Milwaukee. Walker will roll up numbers in the Milwaukee suburbs, so it’s crucial to have massive turnout in the big Democratic areas to offset that. Barrett leads in the PPP poll by 61-35 in Milwaukee County and 59-37 in greater Madison; the numbers there can be even greater with high turnout to capture less likely voters.
Labor keeps insisting that they have a superior ground game, and even the DNC has said this is a “dry run” for November (I would argue that it’s not all that dry, giving the implications of a union-busting Governor beating back a labor-led surge). This is an opportunity to test the voter turnout systems for the fall.
Ultimately, however, one must acknowledge that no public poll has shown Barrett in front. That argues strongly that Walker will be able to hold on. He goes into Election Day a small favorite. Moreover, with public employee union membership in the state declining as the anti-collective bargaining law gets implemented, as was the point, this could represent a high-water mark from an electoral standpoint for labor in the state. They will not have the funds anymore as their membership gets decimated. The larger war, to drain funds from a Democratic-friendly source, has been fought and concluded, in many respects. Building worker power becomes that much harder when the right to organize is restricted. I don’t know what the answer is post-recall, but it probably doesn’t lie with elections.