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Nichols Note: 13 days to Wisconsin recall

With 13 days left before the recall election in Wisconsin, here's the latest from the campaign as compiled by John Nichols, Washington Correspondent of The
Nichols Note: 13 days to Wisconsin recall
Nichols Note: 13 days to Wisconsin recall

With 13 days left before the recall election in Wisconsin, here's the latest from the campaign as compiled by John Nichols, Washington Correspondent of The Nation and author of  Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street:


1. New Polling Suggests Closer Race.

  • The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Poll that dropped Tuesday afternoon shows a much closer race than last week's polls suggested.
  • Greenberg has Walker up 50-47, according to the poll, which was conducted for We Are Wisconsin.
  • The critical number: Among independents, Barrett has a 50-44 lead over Walker. That advantage is growing.
  • What's striking is that Barrett's approval ratings are significantly higher among independents than Walker's.
  • There are other polls in the field. Democrats and Republicans acknowledge that their internal polls are close. Democrats say its a "dead heat," as the Greenberg poll suggests.
  • That fits with the tenor of the race. Governor Walker got some very good poll numbers last week, but the samples on those polls trended very conservative. The sense from the campaigns is that they see a tight race -- despite the usual spin from all sides.


2. Early Voting Goes Huge

  • Early Voting for the June 5 election is very high -- way ahead of early voting at this point for April Republican presidential primary or May recall primaries.  
  • The numbers are up around the state, in Democratic and Republican areas.
  • What is significant for the Democrats is that the numbers have spiked in the Madison and Milwaukee areas -- where the voting was below expectations in May.
  • In Madison, lines have extended out the door of the City Clerk's office.
  • In Milwaukee, says Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Sue Edman: “It’s very high for the first day of early voting for any election. Generally it’s 10, 15, 20 people.”
  • Edman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that 457 voters filed absentee ballots with the commission Monday, quadrupling the early turnout for May’s recall primary and FAR EXCEEDING the typical general election.


3. Critics of Recall Target Family of "John Doe" Investigator

  • After a shadowy group targets Janesville teachers who signed recall petitions, now another group is trying to make a big deal about the fact that an investigator in the John Doe probe into criminal corruption in Scott Walker's county-executive office and 2010 campaign.
  • The Media Trackers group -- which is funded by out-of-state conservative interests -- has apparently staked out is the homes of public servants to monitor political sentiments. And they went to extremes with regard to chief investigator David Budde.
  • But what they missed was that Budde, who did not sign the recall petition and is a very well-regarded professional, is married.
  • His wife, a county employee who is in no way tied to the investigation, is reported to have put up the sign.
  • Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm, who has led the John Doe investigation, says: "I do not regulate or control the constitutional freedoms of my employees' families in their private lives. They have the right, under state law, and in this case, county civil service rules, to express their political views."
  • Unfortunately, the right-wing groups that have been attacking the recall are showing about as much regard for those rights as former Wisconsin Joe McCarthy was accused of displaying when a lawyer asked: "Have you no shame?"


4. Scott Walkers Slanders Critics of Voter ID Law

  • The League of Women Voters, Common Cause and clean government groups across Wisconsin opposed the draconian Voter ID law developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council and Scott Walker's cronies in the state legislature.
  • A judge has determined that it was unconstitutional. And the courts have stayed its implementation.
  • Yet, Governor Walker now says: “I’ve always thought in this state, close elections, presidential elections, it means you probably have to win with at least 53 percent of the vote to account for fraud. One or two points, potentially... That’s enough to change the outcome of the election... Absolutely. I mean there’s no question why they went to court and fought [to undo] voter ID.”
  • The Governor's statement is false on its face.
  • Wisconsin has historically had a reputation for clean elections. When national Republicans -- at the behest of Karl Rove -- tried to gin up fears about voter fraud in 2004, 2006 and 2008, they turned up so little that the efforts drew laughs from serious observers of the process.
  • In 2010, when the governor and his allies won key elections, the Republicans stopped complaining
  • Now, however, the governor suggests that voter fraud is a huge problem -- and suggesting that close elections might be stolen.
  • But his crudest claim is that the good government groups that opposed the 2011 Voter ID law -- and that have spearheaded legislative and legal challenged to it -- did so in order perpetuate voter fraud.


[Editor's Note: The Ed Show has featured extensive coverage of the worker revolt under Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.  Walker faces a recall election on June 5 against Democrat Tom Barrett, Mayor of Milwaukee.  John Nichols, Washington Correspondent of The Nation, has reported on the situation in Wisconsin since Walker's union-busting campaign began shortly after he took office in January 2011.  That reporting was compiled for his excellent book Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street.  John has been a frequent guest on the Ed Show, and periodically he'll be sending us more notes on the Wisconsin recall campaign as we get closer to the June 5 vote.]