The death of the ‘Walker Hypothesis’ in Wisconsin

Slate and CBS political analyst John Dickerson suggests today that the end of the Scott Walker era may be at hand in Wisconsin.

A poll shows Walker’s Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, has her biggest lead — just 2 percentage points — or the campaign so far.

While that suggests that it’s anybody’s race, Dickerson says it’s already proven the weakness of the “Walker Hypothesis,” the belief that “a politician who enacted conservative policies and didn’t shrink from the resulting controversy would be rewarded by a wide range of voters —conservatives, but also swing voters. It was a model that conservatives offered not just for other GOP governors, but for the party’s presidential candidates.”

Walker has been recently talking about what he has delivered and touting the state’s economic record, but it hasn’t improved his standing much in the polls. In fact, in this poll, 48 percent of voters say Wisconsin lags behind other Midwest states in job creation (a charge Burke has been making), which is an increase from the 43 percent who said so last month.

Walker’s broadsides, by contrast, don’t appear to have paid off yet, which is why Democrats are happier than a two-point lead would seem to justify.

They think Burke has withstood some of the strongest stuff that can be thrown at her. The biggest blow was Walker’s attack on the outsourcing practices of Trek Bicycle, the company her father founded and where Burke was once an executive. Seventy-three percent of Wisconsin voters think outsourcing reduces jobs and wages of American workers.

The ones who believe that strongest are in Burke’s base. In such a polarized state, Walker’s goal was to drive down support among his opponent’s core voters. Since Burke was undefined and is running as nonideological rather than as a populist rabble-rouser, that seemed like a good bet.

But the latest poll shows Burke with 89 percent support among Democrats, roughly where that number has been for the last several months. Democrats are also more enthusiastic about the contest. Eighty-two percent say they will certainly vote, whereas only 77 percent of Republicans say the same.

More politics: The biggest thing that blue states are screwing up (Vox).