Tag Archives: Scott Walker

Battleground Watch 2016

This is who I am keeping a close eye on for the future of the party:

Scott Walker follows path familiar to presidential hopefuls

Wisconsin governor to speak to key Iowa GOP gathering

By Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel
March 30, 2013 5:04 p.m.

Madison – In a few weeks, Scott Walker will head to a Sheraton hotel just outside Des Moines, following a path already traveled by Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann.

The Republican governor from Wisconsin will fire up a partisan crowd in the very heart of Iowa, the state whose caucus will open the 2016 presidential race. The Polk County Republican fundraiser is an event that doesn’t just draw big names in conservative politics – it draws presidential contenders.

It’s just one of several signs the first-term governor is looking beyond his 2014 re-election to a bigger potential prize – the Republican nomination for a president. Walker is crisscrossing the country to speak to conservatives, holding open a possible run, and overseeing a high-profile book that will introduce his life story to the rest of the country this fall.

It’s a long way off and 2014 is more important due to the calendar, but since 2013 is so boring (NJ gov? cakewalk for Christie; VA gov? Cuccinelli is a surprisingly easy (to the media’s wholly-biased mind) victory; NYC mayor? who cares (and I live here); LA mayor? who cares (the city/state are collapsing). So we kill time until 2014.

In Wisconsin, It’s Game On

Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics breaks down Wisconsin which is quickly becoming Battleground central of the 2012 election:

Is Wisconsin the new Ohio? It’s beginning to feel that way. As the presidential race hurtles toward a dramatic conclusion, both campaigns are suddenly locked in an intense battle to win the Badger State and its 10 Electoral College votes.


A new poll from Rasmussen Reports underscored just how close the contest has become here: President Obama and Mitt Romney were tied at 49 percent each in the poll of likely voters, conducted Thursday. Overall, Obama leads by just 2.3 percent in the RealClearPolitics Average in Wisconsin, down from 6.6 percent two weeks ago.

The cavalry

Obama’s campaign has moved quickly over the last week to try to shore up support in a state the president won overwhelmingly four years ago. In addition to the vice president’s visits Friday, the campaign announced that the president himself will make a campaign stop next week in Green Bay. In another sign of Democrats’ concern over the tightening race in Wisconsin, earlier this week Priorities USA, the super PAC supporting the Obama campaign, bought advertising time in five media markets for the final week of the campaign.

Meeting the challenge

The Romney camp has also mobilized more resources to the state, apparently sensing a shift in momentum. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio stumped for Romney on Thursday in the heavily Republican area of Waukesha, just west of Milwaukee. RNC Chairman and Wisconsin native Reince Priebus barnstormed the state earlier in the week, and Romney is set to hold a “victory rally” in the Milwaukee area on Monday night.

The latest firewall

Along with Ohio and Iowa, Wisconsin represents what is being termed Obama’s “Midwest Firewall.” Ohio remains the focal point, thanks to the electoral math; whichever candidate wins the Buckeye State and its 18 electoral votes has a much easier route to reach the magic number of 270. But with Wisconsin (and Iowa) very much in play, the Romney campaign senses an opportunity to break through Obama’s firewall, and with the state’s 10 electoral votes in its column the Romney brain trust can suddenly see a potential path to the White House despite losing Ohio – something that would be unprecedented for a Republican presidential candidate.

Changing map

Under normal circumstances, the idea that a GOP nominee could lose a more traditionally Republican-leaning state like Ohio but win in historically less favorable territory like Wisconsin and Iowa — states Obama carried in 2008 by 14 and 9.5 percentage points, respectively — would appear to be a long shot. But this year is far from normal. Despite having suffered a decline of roughly four points or more in several other swing states since the first debate in early October, Obama’s lead has slipped less than half of that amount in Ohio. He appears to be “defying gravity” there — in the words of NBC News’ Chuck Todd — thanks in part to his stance on the auto bailout, heavy ad spending, an intense early voting effort, and a local economy performing better than the national average. In Wisconsin, however, it appears the laws of physics still apply. Obama has lost 5.3 percent in the RealClearPolitics Average in Wisconsin since October 3, the day of the first presidential debate.

Republican game changers

[T]he Romney campaign has two additional reasons to believe it can keep the president earthbound there.

  • The first is the choice of Paul Ryan, who represents the state’s 1st Congressional District in the southeastern part of the state and hails from Janesville. Ryan’s status as favorite son, and his ability to appeal to independent voters in the state, is suddenly more important than ever.
  • Second, Republicans believe the political machine they’ve built statewide over the past few years, largely to battle the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker, will make the difference for Romney on Election Day. That machine, which the Republicans test-drove back on June 5, performed exceedingly well: Walker turned out 1.3 million voters in the recall, more than 205,000 more than he did in his 2010 victory.

Early voting

Early voting started this week in Wisconsin, and Republicans say they got off to a good start. “Republican strongholds like Waukesha and Washington counties over-performed 2008, while Democratic strongholds like Dane County under-performed,” said Rick Wiley, political director for the Republican National Committee and former executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. But given the overwhelming size of Obama’s victory in Wisconsin four years ago, Republicans could out-perform 2008 by a significant amount but still come up on the losing end, especially if Democrats are able to avoid a substantial drop-off in enthusiasm.

The Voter That Will Decide Wisconsin

Wisconsin has been among my Battlegrounds States since the inception of this blog in late-May — ahead of the national news organizations (thankyouverymuch). This was predicated on the belief that its Governor, Scott Walker, would decisively beat-back the recall attempt and that win would demonstrate the tectonic changes on the ground to flip the state for Romney. The first part came true as expected and the state remains a Battleground but the second part (the political ground shift) remains elusive. This is due to the Wisconsin voter who will decide the state’s fate next month: the Walker-Obama voter. Craig Gilbert, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, continues to do incredible work this cycle on these important 10 electoral votes and drills down on the Wisconsin phenomenon of split party support between polarizing Governor Scott Walker and equally polarizing President Barack Obama:

One intriguing surprise from last June’s recall election was the exit poll finding that one in six Scott Walker voters planned to vote for President Obama this November. It wasn’t just a polling blip. Surveys throughout the year have identified a small but steady fraction of Wisconsin voters who seemingly defy both the pessimism and polarization of the times in approving of two lightning-rod incumbents from opposing parties, Republican Gov. Walker and Democrat Obama.

Who are these people?

In Marquette’s surveys, pro-Walker, pro-Obama voters comprise about one tenth of registered voters in the state. Compared to the rest of the electorate, they are a bit younger. They are more moderate and independent and less Republican. They are a little more likely to live outside the state’s big media markets. They are less likely to have suffered economic setbacks in the last two years. They are more optimistic about the direction of the economy. And just as they are softer in their partisan leanings, they express less certainty about their intention to vote. “These are folks who have not been terribly hurt by the economy, are fairly positive about the economy and at the same time are somewhat less partisan and ideological and a bit removed from the center of political conflict,” says political scientist Charles Franklin, who polls for Marquette…By definition, they’re favorable toward Obama, but “soft” in their party attachments and open to a Republican. Yet they’re less unhappy than other voters with current conditions, so it’s a challenge for Romney to win them over. “They’re not howling mad about the economy,” Franklin says of this group.

Polling output

All of Marquette’s 2012 polling – almost 10,000 registered Wisconsin voters across 12 surveys – was combined for this analysis. Of those nearly 10,000 voters, 9.7% said they approved of how both Walker and Obama are handling their jobs. That leaves us with a sizeable sample of 945 “Obama-Walker approvers.” The share of registered voters who fall into this category hasn’t changed a whole lot over the course of the year: it was 11% back in January, dropped to 7% in April and May, peaked at 12% in June after the recall election, and has ranged since then from 9% to 11%. These percentages are also consistent with the exit poll done by Edison Research in the June 5 recall election, in which about 9% of voters were both pro-Walker and pro-Obama. (Walker got 53% of the vote; of the 53% that voted for Walker, 17% said they supported Obama for president; 17% of 53% equals 9% of the electorate).

The Obama-Walker voter

  • Age: They skew young: 22% are under 30, compared to 14% of all other voters; 24% are 60 and over, compared to 31% of all other voters. But while disproportionately young, they are not predominantly young; 78% are 30 and over.
  • Income: They are comparatively less wealthy, which is consistent with being younger: 39% report family income of under $40,000, compared to 30% of all other voters.
  • Partisanship: They’re less partisan: 51% describe themselves as independents, compared to 36% of all other voters. They are no more or less Democratic in their party affiliation than other voters. But they are a lot less Republican: only 14% of Obama-Walker approvers are Republican, compared to 29% of all other voters.
  • Ideology: They’re bunched toward the political center: 47% are moderates, compared to 31% of all other voters; only 28% are conservatives, compared to 43% of all other voters; and 18% are liberal, compared to 22% of all other voters.
  • Region: They are disproportionately from outstate Wisconsin. Only 36% come from the state’s biggest media market, Milwaukee, compared to 43% of all other voters; 26% come from the state’s four smallest media markets (Wausau, La Crosse, and the parts of Wisconsin served by Twin Cities and Duluth TV), compared to 20% of all other voters. This may reflect the less partisan character of these voters. The Milwaukee media market is highly polarized between Democrats in Milwaukee County and Republicans in the counties west and north of Milwaukee. The state’s smaller media markets contain areas that often swing from one party to the other.
  • Economic attitudes: They’re less negative about the economy: 52% said the recession had a major effect on their finances, compared to 60% of all other voters; only 12% said the economy has gotten worse over the past year, compared to 35% of all other voters; and 55% said they expect the economy to get better in the next year, compared to 42% of all other voters. This makes sense – that people who approve of both an incumbent Republican governor and an incumbent Democratic president have a more positive view of economic conditions. That confidence appears to be more a function of outlook than wealth, since these voters are less likely to have higher incomes than other voters.
  • Political engagement: They are softer in their propensity to vote: 67% said they are absolutely certain to vote, compared to 86% of all other voters. They are also a little less likely to be every-day newspaper readers or watchers of the local news, according to the polling. This is consistent with political research that suggests less partisan voters are typically less politically engaged. In short, the people who approve of both Obama and Walker may be less reliable voters. But Franklin says it would be going too far to regard them as politically tuned out or apathetic, since these are registered voters who have political opinions to express and have taken the time to respond to an opinion survey.

How Obama-Walker supporters swing

Obama has enjoyed a small-to-modest lead in the vast majority of Wisconsin polls. He has been around or above 50% in most recent polls. There has been very little polling since the first debate, widely seen as a win for Romney. But Public Policy Polling reported Saturday night that in its latest Wisconsin poll, Obama’s lead had shrunk from seven points to two points. These Obama-Walker approvers aren’t the only swing voters in this state. But if Romney has ground to make up in Wisconsin, this group would seem to be an attractive target of opportunity – voters favorable to Obama, but who aren’t down-the-line Democrats (almost 70% are independents and Republicans), and who’ve expressed support for a GOP governor running on a message of fiscal conservatism.

Resistant to Romney

Taking the more recent polling by Marquette – since the June recall election – only 19% of Obama-Walker approvers have a favorable image of Romney, 56% have an unfavorable view, and 21% haven’t heard enough about him. That hints at the problems Romney has had appealing to more persuadable and centrist voters in Wisconsin. Here’s a group of swing voters outside the GOP base that Gov. Walker has won over but Romney is struggling with. The good news: at least some of these voters (about a fifth) view Romney favorably and another fifth don’t know much about him and might be reachable. The bad news: a majority don’t like him. “With them you take away the primary argument against Obama, which is the economy,” says Franklin … Nor can Romney count on ideology to win them over, since they’re not very Republican and not very conservative. The more moderate image Romney projected in the first debate could be helpful with these voters. But Romney first has to persuade this group of Obama-approvers that it’s time for a change.

President Obama Has a Wisconsin Problem

With the President lowering himself to actually campaign in Wisconsin for his own job, unlike when he wouldn’t help Democrats in the June recall, Team Romney and the RNC are ready to welcome him to the Badger State with open arms:

When President Obama arrives in Milwaukee today, it will be his first visit to the Badger State in 220 days. In 2008, he carried Wisconsin by 14 points – no surprise, since Democrats have won Wisconsin in every presidential election since 1984. President Obama has yet to give an explanation for this dramatic decrease in support. But the fact is that voters are disappointed that he has not lived up to the promises he made four years ago. Consider what has happened in Wisconsin since he was last here in February:

  1. More than 23 million Americans are still struggling for work – and the nation experienced its 43rd straight month of unemployment above 8%.
  2.  The U.S. Census Bureau released new data, which showed incomes in decline and poverty at record levels.
  3. Food-stamp enrollment climbed to a record 46.7 million.
  4. The national debt surpassed $16 trillion – driving every Wisconsinite’s share of the debt to over $51,000.
  5. The federal government officially reported its fourth straight trillion-dollar deficit, all under President Obama.

President Obama’s failure to turn around the economy and get America working again is the reason Wisconsin voters are looking for a different path. It is one reason Republicans in the state have made significant gains in recent years. For example, since 2008:

  1. Scott Walker was elected Governor by nearly 6 percent.
  2. Ron Johnson defeated three-term incumbent Senator Russ Feingold by nearly 5 percent.
  3. Republicans gained control of the State Assembly.
  4. Republicans won two congressional seats previously held by Democrats.

Since President Obama’s last visit, volunteers have made millions of voter contacts that helped Scott Walker become the first governor in history to beat back a recall effort. President Obama was notably absent during the race, deciding not to appear with the Democratic candidate, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Our grassroots campaign was so effective that Scott Walker went on to defeat his 2010 opponent by a wider margin than when he was first elected.

Mitt Romney has been dedicated to winning Wisconsin since day one. He has already made two post-primary campaign visits to the state to discuss his five-point Plan for a Stronger Middle Class, which will create 240,000 jobs in Wisconsin.  Since Paul Ryan joined the ticket, he has been on the stump in the Badger State three times. Just this week, Ann Romney visited Wisconsin to rally supporters.

Massive Romney “Super Saturday” in Virginia

The Romney campaign with the help of high powered surrogates held 11 “super Saturday” events around Virginia:

This Saturday, Republicans in Virginia and around the country will kick off the second monthly “Super Saturday” weekend ahead of November. Statewide and nationally, volunteers will make literally hundreds of thousands of voter contacts by phone and in person. July was the earliest the GOP has tested its ground game operation.

With a rising unemployment rate and a record 42 months of 8 percent plus unemployment in the news today, President Obama’s continued failure to keep his promises and help the middle class, we expect hundreds of volunteers on the phones and knocking on doors to promote Governor Romney’s focus on job creation and economic growth. Please join us for our “Super Saturday” marquee events in Leesburg and Arlington as well as other kick off events across the commonwealth.

Leesburg, 9am, Super Saturday Kickoff with Gov. Bob McDonnell, Gov. Scott Walker, Rep. Frank Wolf

Loudoun Victory Office
18 Royal Street, SE
Leesburg, VA

Arlington, 11am Romney for President Virginia Headquarters Grand Opening with  Gov. Scott Walker, RNC Political Director Rick Wiley

Romney for President Virginia Headquarters
3811 Fairfax Drive, Suite 750
Arlington, VA

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Wisconsin: Battleground or Not?

I was an early adopter of Wisconsin being a prime battleground in 2012. The 2010 success statewide coupled with an expected Scott Walker recall victory led me to believe there would be incredible momentum heading into November for the eventual GOP nominee. Unfortunately while most of the premises held true any subsequent momentum seems to be lacking. Romney may still win Wisconsin, but it may need to be part of a bigger wave nationally than I originally thought he’d need.  The dean of Wisconsin politics, Craig Gilbert, take a look at the current Wisconsin landscape:

Neither the Obama nor Romney campaign is running broadcast television ads here. Why have the presidential ad wars, raging in more than half a dozen other states since May, largely bypassed Wisconsin so far? Could it be that Wisconsin is not quite the battleground it has been in the past?

Not a Tier 1 Battleground

The campaigns’ TV buys show that Wisconsin, where President Obama leads in the polls, currently ranks behind seven or eight other states in competitiveness — among them Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and New Hampshire. Romney himself told the Toledo Blade recently that “there are just many places we can’t afford to be running ads,” because much of the money his campaign has been raising this summer can’t be spent by law until after the national convention. Democratic pollster Paul Maslin said Wisconsin is “not at the level of Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, Florida” as an electoral target right now. “It’s in the next batch.”

Follow the money

In the end, what the campaigns, the parties and the big-spending outside groups do with their advertising buys in the coming weeks and months will answer the question of how competitive they believe Wisconsin is in 2012. As Tad Devine, strategist for the 2004 Kerry for President campaign, said during that race, “If you want to understand the strategic intent of a presidential campaign, look at what they do with their media buy.” That’s the “tell.”

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Battleground State Economics

The Romney campaign continues to walk a tightrope between identifying the need for change at the Presidential level due to the poor economy while dealing with the reality that all-important Battleground state economies have turned for the better over the last 18-months.  The National Journal took a look at some of the key factors and conflicting agendas embedded in such a strategy:

Examples of conflicting narratives among the Battlegrounds:

  • Nevada: Suffers from double-digit unemployment, deep and stubborn housing crisis as well as anemic activity in the service and construction industries vital to the state
  • Michigan: Unemployment hovers in the 8 percent range, a smidge above the national average but a far cry from the 14.1 percent the state experienced during the auto-industry financial crisis that roiled Detroit
  • Iowa: Entered the downturn later than other states, jettisoned fewer jobs, and rebounded much faster

Balancing Act

Romney’s pitch to voters hinges on the recovery being too sluggish under the president’s policies and the fact that millions of Americans are still feeling economic pain. The problem has been GOP governors heralding their accomplishments on the economic front have also cropped up, putting their messages at loggerheads with the Romney campaign’s central theme. Among them were Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Problem Governors:

Romney’s message was undercut this week when Florida Gov. Rick Scott insisted on touting economic progress in the Sunshine State under his tenure, for his own political purposes. Scott on Friday touted his state’s recovery at a major gathering of Hispanic elected officials. “Our state is doing extremely well,” Scott said. “We still have 800,000 people out of work, but we’re changing it. Tourism is way up, jobs are up, housing prices are staying stable. If you want to buy a house, now is the time. … We’ve had the biggest drop in unemployment of any state but one in the last seventeen months.”

Ohio Gov. Kasich in particular had been conspicuously absent from recent Romney campaign events. Notably, he skipped an April event in front of a shuttered factory in Lorain, Ohio. Democrats were quick to pounce, accusing Romney of rooting against the recovery. Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said in an interview, “That’s the pickle John Kasich is in. He’s given the task of poor-mouthing the economy or going into the witness-protection program, and he’s chosen the latter.”

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Wisconsin’s Three Amigos

Wisconsin has been a focal point of the national discourse on politics ever since the 2010 election that swept Republicans into power throughout the state.  The recent recall success has increased Mitt Romney’s chances of carrying the state this November and CBS News take a look at three key national players for Romney who all also happen to be from Wisconsin:

Mitt Romney’s “Every Town Counts” bus tour stops in Janesville, Wisc., Monday because, as he told CBS News’ Bob Schieffer on Sunday, it’s simple: it is one of the states he plans to win in November. Thanks to the current political climate and a Republican power trio there, the Badger State, which has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in every presidential election since 1984, is showing a glimmer of hope for Romney’s campaign.

I need a hero:

Gov Scott Walker, R-Wisc., who successfully passed pension-cutting legislation and a measure limiting collective bargaining rights for some public sector workers, is considered the hero of the right and is praised for having strong convictions and willing to fight despite possible political ramifications. There is “intense personal loyalty to Walker here,” Wisconsin Republican Party vice chair Brian Schimming told Hotsheet. Walker survived an expensive and bitter recall election in June, expanding his support by receiving 205,000 more votes than he garnered in his election in 2010. “Walker expanding his lead this June shows that Republicans are still winning the argument,” Marquette University law professor Charles Franklin said. Since his recall victory, Walker offered some words of warning for Romney. He has said repeatedly that Romney must propose “bold” ideas to capture Wisconsin – and the presidency.

Ground game:

Schimming noted that the recall election allowed Republicans to organize early and often. He said the Republican Party opened 25 offices statewide last November, a full 6 or 7 months earlier than a typical presidential election year. He said volunteers have made 4 million calls and knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors, all possibly beneficial to Mitt Romney in November. Franklin, who is director of the Marquette Law School polling unit, said the recall shows Republicans are seeing a surge of enthusiasm. “Is this significant shift in a Republican direction something that’s going to last until November? That’s an important question,” Franklin said.

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