If voters in Wisconsin could repeat the 2010 gubernatorial election, the majority would support defeated Democratic nominee Tom Barrett over Republican Scott Walker, according to a report [PDF] by Public Policy Polling.
Fifty-two percent of the 768 registered Wisconsin voters surveyed said they would vote for Barrett if they could do last fall’s election for governor over again. Forty-five percent said they would vote for Walker and four percent were uncertain.
"The difference between how folks would vote now and how they voted in November can almost all be attributed to shifts within union households," Tom Jensen of PPP explained. "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."
Tens of thousands of demonstrators in Wisconsin have protested against Gov. Walker's budget repair bill, which would curb the collective bargaining rights of public employees.
Republicans in Wisconsin claim the union rights of public employees need to be limited so the state can avoid laying off workers due to a budget gap of $137 million in the current fiscal year.
The protests in Wisconsin have sparked workers' rights rallies across the United States. Millions of Americans were out in the streets this past Saturday, participating in the largest flare-up of labor protests the nation has seen in decades.
A major contribution to Walker's victory, according to Jensen, was the amount of Democratic voters who did not vote in November. But with the media spotlight enlivening Wisconsin's political landscape, Gov. Walker is unlikely to face apathetic voters again.
"Those sleeping dogs aren't lying any more though and when you combine the reinvigoration of the base with GOP union households trending back toward the Democrats, Walker seems to have severely hurt his party's chances of building on their gains from 2010 next year," Jensen concluded.