Sixty percent of Wisconsin voters said in CBS News exit polls that recall elections are only appropriate for official misconduct. Twenty-seven percent said they think they are suitable for any reason, while 10 percent think they are never appropriate.
Exit polling showed tepid majority support for public unions (51%), with equally tepid support for Walker’s handling of collective bargaining (52%). This reflects the resentment towards public unions based on the perception that they’re getting a better deal than the rest of us :
Labor’s arsenal is full of arguments: By many measures, public sector workers receive less total compensation than their private sector counterparts. Pensions are more efficient than 401Ks. All public sector workers “contribute” to their retirement, because pensions are deferred compensation – money workers earned through work. Good jobs strengthen the overall economy. And most important: You deserve good health insurance and a pension too.
All of that is true. But as I learned as a union organizer, policy arguments aren’t what tend to change people’s politics, and resentments are often stronger than reason (research suggests that this is even more true the more education someone has). What changes people’s politics are their experiences: Coming out. Getting mugged. Becoming part of a fighting union.
In hindsight, picking a recall election to settle an issue where there isn’t an overwhelming majority opinion wasn’t a smart tactic. I’m not discounting the huge amount of money spent on Walker’s behalf–unfortunately, I think we just saw a preview for a lot of Congressional races this Fall. But when you look at the exit polls, it’s pretty clear that this was a heavy lift in the first place.