Among the questions in yesterday’s exit polls in Wisconsin about such things as political leanings and religion, voters were asked: How do you feel about the way Scott Walker is handling his job as governor?
Walker, who is battling to keep his job amid a recall campaign, had sky-high approval ratings in the exit polls. Some 79 percent of Republican primary voters said that they approved of the governor, and 68 percent said that they strongly approve of him.
The first-term Republican governor will face a recall election June 5. With the conventional wisdom being that Mitt Romney has more or less wrapped up the GOP nomination, this special election could be the most important political event between now and the general election. Or at least between now and the Republican and Democratic conventions in August and September.
Now, of course, this was the Republican primary, so a high approval rating for the Republican governor isn’t exactly earth shattering. But it highlights the polarity of Walker.
In January, roughly one million signatures were turned in to recall the governor — almost double the 540,208 required to trigger such an election, which will be the first in Wisconsin’s history. The effort to collect signatures kicked off in November, so the task of collecting over a million name in the winter months in Wisconsin is no small feat.
Walker’s polarity is attributable, in large part, to an anti-collective bargaining law he championed called Act 10. That legislation curtailing the rights of the state’s unionized workers, made him popular with the right, and judging from the amount of recall signatures, persona non grata with the left.
Polling indicates that the recall battle will tight. A recent poll from Marquette University Law School showed Walker with a slight advantage over two of his possible Democratic challengers. Measured against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, whom Walker defeated for governor in 2010, Walker has a two point lead of 47 percent to 45 percent. Against former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk, Walker has a 4-point lead of 49 percent to 45 percent.
Regardless of the shape the race takes in the coming weeks, as Democratic candidates campaign to be the nominee to ultimately challenge Walker, one thing seems clear: Walker will turn out a lot of voters on June 5, and they’ll be motivated by one of two things: a strong support or a staunch opposition.