What Is the Reaction?
USA Today/Gallup (Feb 21, adults nationwide): “Additionally, the new poll finds Americans opposed to their own state adopting a deficit-reduction proposal, like the one that has triggered a legislative standoff in Wisconsin, that eliminates some of the collective bargaining rights of most public unions, including the teachers' union. One-third of Americans say they would favor such a bill in their own state, while 61% would oppose it.”
New York Times/CBS News (Feb 24-27, adults nationwide): “Americans oppose weakening the bargaining rights of public employee unions by a margin of nearly two to one: 60 percent to 33 percent. While a slim majority of Republicans favored taking away some bargaining rights, they were outnumbered by large majorities of Democrats and independents who said they opposed weakening them.
Those surveyed said they opposed, 56 percent to 37 percent, cutting the pay or benefits of public employees to reduce deficits, breaking down along similar party lines. A majority of respondents who have no union members living in their households opposed both cuts in pay or benefits and taking away the collective bargaining rights of public employees.”
Pew Research Center (Feb 24-27, adults nationwide): “Democrats overwhelmingly side with the government employee unions in the ongoing dispute in Wisconsin. Two- thirds (67%) say this, compared with just 12% who say they side more with the governor. About half of Republicans (53%) say they side more with Gov. Walker; 17% say they side more with the public employee unions. Independents are evenly divided (39% side more with the unions, 34% more with the governor).
Among those ages 18 to 29, nearly half (46%) say they side more with the public employee unions, while 13% say they side with the governor. Among those 65 and older, the balance is reversed – but the gap more narrow (45% say they side more with the governor, 33% with the unions).
While whites are nearly evenly divided (38% unions, 36% governor), non-white people are much more likely to say they side more with the unions that represent public employee workers (51% vs. 19%).
And while those with household incomes of $75,000 or more are divided (36% side more with the unions, 40% with the governor), those earning less clearly side more with the government employee unions. Among those with family income of less than $30,000, 46% say they side more with the unions, while 20% say they side more with the governor.”
Public Policy Polling (Feb 24-27, Wisconsin voters): “…[If voters in Wisconsin] could do it over today they'd support defeated Democratic nominee Tom Barrett over Scott Walker by a a 52-45 margin.
The difference between how folks would vote now and how they voted in November can almost all be attributed to shifts within union households. Voters who are not part of union households have barely shifted at all- they report having voted for Walker by 7 points last fall and they still say they would vote for Walker by a 4 point margin. But in households where there is a union member voters now say they'd go for Barrett by a 31 point margin, up quite a bit from the 14 point advantage they report having given him in November.
It's actually Republicans, more so than Democrats or independents, whose shifting away from Walker would allow Barrett to win a rematch if there was one today. Only 3% of the Republicans we surveyed said they voted for Barrett last fall but now 10% say they would if they could do it over again. That's an instance of Republican union voters who might have voted for the GOP based on social issues or something else last fall trending back toward Democrats because they're putting pocketbook concerns back at the forefront and see their party as at odds with them on those because of what's happened in the last month.”
Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (Feb 27-Mar 1, Wisconsin adults): “Walker has proposed limiting collective bargaining to wages. Exactly half of the respondents (50 percent) say that public employees are willing to compromise on pensions and benefits but limiting bargaining rights does nothing to balance the state’s budget situation and is really just an attempt to get rid of public employee unions. Forty-three percent say the proposed changes are a necessary reform because they will give local governments greater flexibility to control their budgets over several years.
There is real opposition to Governor Walker's proposal to restrict the collective bargaining rights of workers, but the intensity depends on how the question is worded. When the issue is framed as limiting bargaining rights to help local governments, 47 percent are in favor and 50 percent are opposed. When the issue is framed as eliminating bargaining rights to ultimately dismantle public employee unions, then the public overwhelmingly disapproves, with 32 in favor and 58 percent opposed."
Rasmussen Reports (Mar 2, likely Wisconsin voters): “Scott Walker won his job last November with 52% of the vote, but his popularity has slipped since then. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Wisconsin Voters finds that just 34% Strongly Approve of the job he is doing, while 48% Strongly Disapprove. Overall, including those who somewhat approve or disapprove, the new Republican governor earns positive reviews from 43% and negative reviews from 57% of voters statewide.
In addition to the usual partisan and demographic breakdowns, it’s interesting to note that Walker, now engaged in a budget battle with unionized state workers, receives a total approval rating of 46% from households with private sector union members. However, among households with a public sector union member, only 19% offer their approval. Among all other households in the state, opinion is nearly evenly divided—49% favorable and 51% unfavorable.
It’s also interesting to note that among households with children in the public school system, only 32% approve of the governor’s performance. Sixty-seven percent (67%) disapprove, including 54% who Strongly Disapprove."
Bloomberg National Poll (Mar 4-7, adults nationwide): "Do you think public employees should or should not have the right to collectively bargain for wages? [Should = 64%, Should Not = 32%]
With states facing budget crunches, several Republican governors across the country are trying to scale back benefits for state workers. Which of the following positions comes closest to your view? Public employees enjoy generous benefits that cash-strapped states can ill afford, and they should be willing to sacrifice to help states avoid a budget crisis. Governors are unfairly targeting public employee unions, and should not seek to balance their budgets by taking away benefits promised to state workers. [Should sacrifice to help states = 46%, Unions are unfairly targeted = 49%]
Go to Part III.