Public Dislikes Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's Union Busting

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is becoming the national face of GOP overreach.


More bad polling news for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker—not to mention other conservative chief executives, like Ohio’s John Kasich and New Jersey’s Chris Christie, who seem determined to use state budget crises to smash public sector labor unions.

[Read the U.S. News debate: Should public unions keep collective bargaining rights?]

Gallup and USA Today issued a new poll yesterday which found broad public disapproval of the idea of stripping public unions of their collective bargaining rights. According to the survey, 61 percent of adults across the country oppose Walker plan to strip public workers of their rights (maybe people are stuck on that word—“rights,” as in something that can’t be taken away by fiat). Drilling down a bit, not only do Democrats oppose the idea overwhelmingly (18 percent in favor, 78 percent oppose), but independents line up against the idea by a 2-to-1 margin (31-62). Only Republicans like it, and that by a relatively close margin (54-41). This is the second poll released this week showing that Walker’s idea is unpopular. As I noted yesterday, the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner had a survey with broadly similar results. 

This is, as I said, bad news not only for Walker but for other GOP chief executives. As USA Today notes, “Ohio, New Jersey, Indiana, Iowa, and other states with Republican governors are considering similar laws.” The protests made Wisconsin the national face of this anti-union blitz. Walker’s obstinacy—refusing to accept the unions’ offer to agree to his benefit cuts in exchange for leaving their bargaining rights alone—has made him the national face of Republican over-reach. [Take the U.S. News poll: Are Wisconsin teachers unfair to skip school for protests?]

And the Gallup poll has further reason for disquiet among Tea Party conservatives who believe they have a special “cut spending” mandate from the voters. Gallup asked about two other possible remedies for state fiscal woes—reducing or eliminating certain state programs or reducing the pay and benefits for state workers; neither had either general support or support specifically among independents. As my bloleague Anson Kaye pointed out last week, voters snookered the GOP on spending cuts. Again.

  • See photos of the protests in Wisconsin.
  • Check out a roundup of this month's best political cartoons.
  • Take the U.S. News poll: Is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker right about the unions?
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