Behind the MU Law School Poll Numbers: The Walker/Baldwin Voter?

Governor Scott Walker has often referred to the “Walker/Obama” voter. Walker, a Republican, won a recall election in June, 2012, the same year President Barack Obama, a Democrat, carried Wisconsin in November in earning a second term. Walker would even pen a piece for the Wall Street Journal explaining how to appeal to Obama voters.  But some political analysts questioned whether Walker had found a formula to appeal to voters who also voted for Obama. They point out that the dynamics of the two races in 2012 were quite different and don’t bear comparison. While the Walker/Obama voter remains something of an enigma, 2018 may see the rise of the Walker/Baldwin voter.

The Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday shows Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin leading two potential Republican challengers by about ten points. Baldwin leads state Senator Leah Vukmir by nine points, 49-40, and Milwaukee area businessman and Marine vet Kevin Nicholson by 11, 50-39. It’s early and that is likely to change once Republican voters know who their nominee is, following the August 14 primary. But several Democratic candidates are running much closer to Walker in the MU poll:

Four of the nine candidates were within four points of Walker or less (a fifth, Andy Gronik trailed Walker by five, but Gronik announced Thursday he was dropping out of the race). The four are competitive even though three of them are virtual unknowns to voters; State Superintendent of public instruction Tony Evers is the exception.

At the moment, Walker appears to be facing a much more competitive race than Baldwin. That, of course, could change dramatically before November. But the early numbers indicate Baldwin will be formidable. And it is still possible Baldwin would benefit from a national “blue wave” of Democratic enthusiasm. It’s entirely possible that if Walker wins re-election, he’ll do it in a year a Democrat wins a statewide race; just as he did in 2012(Both Baldwin and Obama won in November of that year). The difference will be that Baldwin and Walker will be on the same ballot, something that never happened with Walker and Obama. That would make the Walker/Baldwin voter very real.