Friday, April 01, 2011

Tea Party Losing Steam?

Michael Barone writes that Tea Party enthusiasts are simply running out of gas. On key issues like the Wisconsin Supreme Court election on April, the Tea Partiers haven't mobilized like the union thugs and goons: the state that has made more headlines than any other this year, Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker is facing some headwinds. He did get the Republican legislature to pass limits on the bargaining powers of state employee unions. And union dues aren't going to be deducted from public employees' next paychecks.

But the Democratic state senators' tactic of leaving the state and the often violent protests at the state Capitol have mobilized public employee unions and their supporters.

A Polling Company poll conducted for Independent Women's Voice showed 53 percent of voters with unfavorable feelings toward Walker and only 46 percent favorable. By a similar margin voters sided with the public employee unions over the governor in the recent controversy.

It should be noted that this poll has a small sample and a larger share of voters in union households (38 percent) than in the 2008 and 2010 Wisconsin exit polls (26 percent). And on issues of this kind, question wording can make a big difference in responses.

Next Tuesday, voters will have their say in an election for state Supreme Court. Incumbent Republican David Prosser is being challenged by Democrat Jo Anne Kloppenberg, who is giving strong hints that she'll uphold a dubious ruling by a lower court that the legislature acted illegally in limiting public employee unions' powers. A Prosser defeat would give Democrats a 4-3 edge on the court.

Off-year elections tend to have low turnout, and the public employee unions are working hard to get their voters out. It's unclear whether tea partiers and others whose enthusiasm and energy transformed Wisconsin from a 56-42 percent Obama state in 2008 to a 52-46 percent Walker state in 2010 will be similarly energized.

In addition, both parties have threatened to recall at least some of the other side's state senators. Recall petitions are being circulated and require relatively few signatures.

You can be sure that if the Supreme Court overrules the Walker ruling, the national lamestream MSM will go berserk with premature obituaries for the Tea Party and further get the left-wing libtards mobilized for 2012. The sad fact is that Gov. Walker and his GOP House & Senate majorities have been assuming that the November, 2010 elections had basically given them a carte blanche to lower the state budget's deficit levels by removing some of the most egregious union sweetheart deals worked out with corrupt Demonrat administrations over the last couple of decades. Walker has been so low-key as to be invisible. When Ann Coulter jumped out of her little black dress on TV last month trying to energize the lethargic phlegmatic GOP in WI, it seemingly had no effect and Barone hints broadly that a little more vim & vigor by Walker might be in order:
There's an assumption by many Republicans, seemingly shared by Walker, that voters settled these issues definitively in the November elections. But the IWV poll suggests that voters are not necessarily well informed and have been swayed by those who frame the issue as collective bargaining "rights."

Respondents become more favorable to Walker's position when informed that public employees are paid 45 percent more than private sector union members and that union dues have been automatically deducted and go to support candidates workers may not favor.

In New Jersey, a more Democratic state than Wisconsin, Gov. Chris Christie has won majority support in his struggles with public employee unions by making his case repeatedly, with facts and figures, and with a forcefulness that has made his town hall appearances a YouTube hit.

Christie and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, both elected in 2009, have won public acceptance of major spending cuts by making the alternatives and the facts clear.

The public has seen that vast spending increases haven't generated jobs, and they understand that tax increases can choke a sputtering economic recovery. Given the facts, they understand that public employee unions inflate spending, reduce accountability and operate as a mechanism for the involuntary transfer of taxpayer money to one political party.

The press won't make that case. Republicans and tea partiers need to do it themselves.

If the Tea Partiers in Wisconsin don't wake up and smell the coffee, the entire law might be overthrown on spurious bogus technicalities by an activist judiciary while Walker & his friends snooze the opportunity away. A little dab of Christie might not be in the Teutonic tradition of Wisconsin Badger conservatism, but it might get enough Republicans to the polls to head off a zany Supreme Court takeover of the three branches of Wisconsin state government.

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