Time for Wisconsin Progressives to get to work…again

A short time ago, the AP called the election for Barack Obama, and Tammy Baldwin – with Wisconsin leading the way. Earlier today, Badger Democracy posted predictions and commentary on the state races. Fortunately, I was correct on the Obama/Baldwin win. Unfortunately, I was also correct in saying the GOP would take back the State Senate. It appears Wisconsin will be controlled at the state level by a very conservative GOP led by Scott Walker.

We should take the next 24 hours to celebrate. As Wisconsin progressives, we have led the way in re-electing Barack Obama, and sending Tammy Baldwin to the US Senate. After the celebration, we have along road ahead of us. The recent redistricting has assured an uphill climb for the next decade to maintain a balance in the State Legislature.

More importantly, as progressives, it is time to change the way messaging and campaigns are run at the state level. The Democratic Party, on the whole, has been beaten badly in that regard over the last 18 months – and appears not to have learned from its mistakes. It is time to remedy this as progressives, and again lead the way to change the way we communicate our values and our message – because what is being done now is not working.

The election is over. The campaign for a progressive Wisconsin is in its infancy. See you in the trenches…





Election 2012 – Prognostication and Portends

Election 2012 is in full swing, and by all accounts Wisconsin will have record turnout. That is encouraging, as the Voter ID provisions still in effect do make new voter registrations more difficult.  Based on voter registration data from 2008-2012, turnout will be key to an Obama victory and the hope that there will be a “coat-tail” effect in Wisconsin.

Voter registration data from the GAB shows that the slow and steady attempt by the GOP to disenfranchise younger voters (who vote more Democratic) has been having an impact – even in Wisconsin which has same day registration (numbers in thousands):

Year 18-24 25-34 35-49 50-64 65+ Total
2008 340.8 576.1 955.1 932.8 668.9 3,473.8
2009 336.2 614.3 930.4 926 675 3,481.90
2010 327.5 554.8 900.8 984.3 692.5 3,460
2011 273.9 506.3 826.1 967.2 697.2 3,270.60
2012 332.9 560.4 855.9 1,013.20 738.6 3,501

Notice the trend over the past 5 years. As this table shows, the under 50 age group registrations have dropped, while the over 50 registrations have increased (numbers in thousands):


U50 total 50+ total
 2008 1872 1601.7
 2009 1880.9 1601
 2010 1783.1 1676.8
 2011 1606.3 1664.4
 2012 1749.2 1,751.80
Diff 2008-2012 -122.8 150.10


122,800 less under 50 voters registered, as there are 150,010 more over 50 registered voters.

When expressed as a percent of the total registered voters, it is clear why turnout is key:


 2008 0.54 0.46
 2009 0.54 0.46
 2010 0.52 0.48
 2011 0.49 0.51
 2012 0.50 0.50
Diff 2008-2012 -0.04 0.04


The two age groups have converged, each comprising 50% of the registered voters. Badger Democracy has compiled graphs on this data as a PDF available at this link:

Voter Registration Graphs 2008-2012 PDF

A quick look at the 2011 registrations are one significant reason the Walker recall election failed. Another will be referenced later. Now, on to the prognosis.

President – Barack Obama defeats Mitt Romney. I believe in math and statistics. Nate Silver has the most unbiased, mathematically sound analysis and he has a history of being right. This morning, Silver updated his Five Thirty-Eight blog to give Obama a 90.9% chance of winning – largely due to Obama momentum gains in key swing states. Silver’s analysis takes into account the possibility of a bias for Obama.

In order for Mr. Romney to win the Electoral College, a large number of polls, across these states and others, would have to be in error, perhaps because they overestimated Democratic turnout. It’s this possibility, more than the chance of a successful hail-mary in a state like Pennsylvania, that accounts for most of Mr. Romney’s remaining chances of winning the Electoral College.

The chances of Romney winning the electoral college is given in poker terms by Silver:

…in poker, making an inside straight requires you to catch one of 4 cards out of 48 remaining in the deck, the chances of which are about 8 percent. Those are now about Mr. Romney’s chances of winning the Electoral College.

If Obama were to lose, I would consider the results very suspect – especially if the difference is Ohio and the vote suppression methods under way there (addressed below).

While I expect Obama to win the electoral college, Hurricane Sandy has made the possibility of Romney winning the popular vote a bit higher. The area affected by Sandy typically accounts for about 30% of the total popular vote nationwide. There is a good possibility that enough people will be unable to vote due to the storm, still giving Obama the electoral vote win, but reducing the poplar vote outcome in the Northeast corridor. Can’t wait to hear what Rush Limbaugh would say about that…

Obama will win Wisconsin as well. The final Marquette Law School Poll shows Obama with a 51-43 lead over Romney. The Marquette poll called the recall election nearly spot-on, and had been consistently accurate. That brings us to the Senate.

The Wisconsin Senate Race – Nate Silver has Tammy Baldwin at a 79% chance of defeating Thompson, but the poll margins are extremely close. The voter registration numbers referenced above make the split even closer. The last Marquette poll gives the slightest edge to Baldwin as well, 47-43 (just outside the Margin of Error). I’m going to use another factor in making my prediction – momentum.

The January Marquette poll  showed that 50% of respondents had not heard enough of Tammy Baldwin to form an opinion of her. Only 17% said the same of Thompson. Baldwin had a 23% favorable rating, Thompson 49% favorable. By the June Marquette poll, 39% had not heard enough of Baldwin, 12% had not heard enough of Thompson to form an opinion. The favorability gap was closing – 27% Baldwin, 48% Thompson. In the first head-to-head poll of likely voters, Thompson had a 49-41% lead over Baldwin.

Fast forward to the second August Marquette poll. Baldwin continued to close the recognition gap; 27% not knowing enough of Baldwin, 17% not knowing enough of Thompson. The favorability gap also continued to close – Baldwin at 32%, Thompson at 40%. Among likely voters, Thompson continued to lead 50-41%, virtually unchanged from June.

The second September Marquette poll shows a greater shift in momentum taking place. Only 20% of voters had not heard enough of Baldwin to form an opinion (down from 50% eight months before), with Thompson holding steady at 12%. In the favorability rating, Baldwin had closed the gap – 37% Baldwin, 36% Thompson (compare to 23-49% January). In likely voters, Baldwin gained her first lead in the poll, 48-44%.

That brings us to the last Marquette poll pre-election. Among likely voters, only 13% had not heard enough of Baldwin – about where Thompson started. Favorability ratings are identical – 38% to 38%. More importantly, as more people have come to know Tommy Thompson, his unfavorable rating is 6 points higher than Baldwin’s, 51 – 45%. This was the first poll Thompson had a 50%+ unfavorable rating.

My prediction – based on the momentum of Tammy Baldwin, and the corresponding “coat-tail” effect of Barack Obama winning in Wisconsin by a fairly wide margin, that will be enough to give the razor’s edge victory to Baldwin. Tommy won’t go down without a fight – expect a recount. In the end, Baldwin wins and the Wisconsin US Senate is split.

This entire scenario relies on a fair and accurate election – which is in question and highly suspect. The Brad Blog  has been at the forefront of following election hijinks perpetrated by private corporateers who control the software and data involved in elections. It is astounding that in the first democracy, our election system is controlled by private corporate profiteers with significant conflicts of interest and political agendas – much as would be expected in a third world country election.

Investigative reporter for the BBC Greg Palast has (and continues) to follow the systematic disenfranchisement of minority voters in state like Ohio and Florida – with hundreds of thousands  of registered voters being dropped from voter rolls. Voter registration and ID laws are working in that regard – look at Wisconsin data above. Younger, more Democratic voters are being intentionally purged from the voting rolls – and it is worse in states without same day registration.

If the fix is in, we are in for a long 4 years. Under a Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan Administration, the United States would become a vulture capital economy. After all, Ryan was Paul Singer’s (“The Vulture”) number one pick to be the GOP Presidential candidate. Mitt Romney was Singer’s last pick – Ryan was the VP pick to satisfy Singer.

The vultures would run the show – and the economy. What Singer and Elliott Management are doing to Argentina would become the model for domestic and foreign economic policy. Romney’s financial dealings as a profiteer aligned with Bain Capital and Singer’s Elliott Management would become the new business model in the US. The whistle has just been blown on Romney’s dealings and profiteering – and if he is elected would never see the light of day.

The Obama Administration and mainstream banks like JP Morgan Chase understood the threat to worldwide economics when they recently filed amicus briefs in favor of Argentina’s sovereignty, and against Paul Singer and the vultures. There are theories this election is a battle of the titans for control of the US (and world) economy. Obama wins, and more reasonable heads prevail. A Romney win, and it is back to the Robber Barons – only on steroids with the Vultures in charge.

My concern is for State Senate and Assembly races. All politics are local, and while there may be a small carry over from Obama to the state races – it will be limited. A miracle is necessary for the Democrats to maintain the State Senate. The retirement of Jim Holperin (D-Eagle River) made that a difficult retention with the pro-GOP redistricting. The Assembly may become more evenly divided – but will remain GOP controlled. That leaves Wisconsin where we were after the 2010 election, with the need to remain ever vigilant, the struggle to continue.

There were lessons from the recall that went unlearned by state Dems, as has been written of previously. It must be our priority as progressives to push for a change in messaging and campaigning at the state level to counter the GOP machine. Wisconsin will likely remain under control of the GOP, with some balances at the federal and local level. Again, unless the fix is in. Our election process must be reformed and taken away from the privateers.

Get out and vote – and do your part to protect your right to vote. As for Scott Walker and the GOP in Wisconsin, I’ll be here along with other progressive bloggers long after the election is over to expose their continual abuse of power.

I leave you with the words of Thomas Paine, patriot:

“It is possible to exclude men from the right of voting,
but it is impossible to exclude them from the right of
rebelling against that exclusion.”

What is your right to vote worth?



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New Marquette-Franklin Poll Vilified by Thompson, GOP

The new Marquette Law School Poll run by Charles Franklin was released yesterday (Wednesday, September 19). It didn’t take Thompson and the GOP long to attempt to discredit the poll – one they have always held in high esteem. The reason – the new poll told them something they didn’t want to hear.

On August 12, 2012 in an interview on Capitol City Sunday (Madison WKOW-TV), Thompson had this to say about the Marquette Poll:

“I think the Marquette poll which is considered pretty much the golden rule or the gold standard, came out and says I was 8 points up. So, I feel very good about going in, and I sincerely believe the momentum is with me and I feel very comfortable about the election.”

On Tuesday, the day before the poll was released, Thompson expressed confidence:

“Let’s see what the Marquette poll says tomorrow,” he said. “I feel very good about where I am at – feel very comfortable about the future of this race.” (MJS article)

After the poll was released, Thompson spokeswoman Lisa Boothe accused the poll of “oversampling for Democrats,” giving an edge to Baldwin. From the Thompson statement:

“We do not believe that today’s Marquette poll reflects the opinions of Wisconsin voters,”

An analysis of the poll shows in this most recent sample, there was a slightly higher number of respondents who identified as Democratic. While Franklin adjusts slightly for that in post-stratification, there is still a slightly higher number identifying as Democrats. The Thompson/GOP vilification is unwarranted. The Marquette poll over the past four months has been very consistent, showing an emerging pattern in the electorate conservatives will be desperate to stop. To the tables…

Marquette Law Poll Demographics (link to graph)

The demographics of the poll remain extremely consistent from July-September. The 45+ age group is slightly over-represented, as is respondents with a post-secondary degree. In political party identification, it is the norm in the poll for Republicans to be slightly over-represented; while Independents are under-represented. The September poll is an exception – showing Dems slightly over-represented. While this is leading to Thompson dismissing the poll – he should not. Even as the party ID appears to lean more Democratic, the big picture of the poll shows there is more at work in the results.

Marquette Law Poll Political trend (link to graph)

The poll shows consistently that about 66% of respondents (low 63-high 69%) follow politics “most of the time,” and 83% are “absolutely certain” to vote in the November election (low 81-high 85%). The next set of numbers disputes the Thompson/GOP bias claim in the poll – political leaning.

The fluctuation of respondents identifying as Conservative, Moderate, or Liberal is relatively consistent in a poll with a +/-3.8% margin of error (MoE). From the August 16-19 poll to the September poll, the values of respondents identifying is within the MoE for each category respectively – Conservative (41-39%), Moderate (30-32%), and Liberal (23-26%). The shift from Thompson to Baldwin has been with moderates, and also with those who previously “did not know enough” about Baldwin, now changing to voting for her – and against Thompson. The slight increase in “Liberal” or “Democratic” respondents does not account for the huge swing to Baldwin.

Marquette Law Poll Favorable rating (link to graph)

The favorability rating of the candidates and Scott Walker show part of the story. Barack Obama’s favorable rating has increased from 51-55%, Baldwin’s from 26-36%. Mitt Romney’s favorable rating is flat at 36%; while at the same time Scott Walker’s has fallen from 50-46%, Tommy Thompson’s from 44-39%.

Marquette Law Poll Unfavorable rating (link to graph)

The unfavorable rating is telling as well – showing a consistent shift apart from any alleged Democratic bias in the sample from a single poll, at a relatively insignificant level. Barack Obama’s unfavorable rating has gone from 42% down to 39%, Baldwin’s has stayed steady at 31%. Romney’s has increased from 42% to 51%, Walker from 45-49%, and Thompson from 36-44%. All increases in Republican unfavorable ratings are outside the MoE – and shifts in “conservative” or “liberal” political ID.

Marquette Law Poll Pres/Senate likely voters (link to graph)

Amongst likely voters, there has been a dramatic shift in the Presidential and Senate campaigns. Much of that shift can be attributed to the GOP Convention disaster, Romney’s campaign failures, and the Dems convention and messaging success. Romney/Ryan received a slight bump, closing them to within 49-46% mid-August. The recent poll has Obama/Biden up 54-40% . The same bump had Thompson up 50-41% on Baldwin; the recent poll has a huge swing, putting Baldwin up 50-41% on Thompson. This eighteen-point swing simply is not explained away by the nominal oversampling of Democratic voters. There is not enough shift in “liberal” vs. “conservative” to account for such a change.

Marquette Law Poll Issues (link to graph)

The August 2-5 poll showed 43% of respondents would agree to “higher taxes for more services.” This recent September poll shows 47% agreeing to “higher taxes for more services.”

In the same August poll, 44% approved of “Obamacare,” in September the number had risen to 49%.

The Bush tax cuts popularity continued decline, from 35% in August to 30% in September.

The above surveyed issues in the poll demonstrate a further shift consistent with the data – the electorate in Wisconsin is trending away from the right-wing GOP issues and candidates. That is why they attempt to discredit the Marquette Poll. The pattern playing out with conservatives is becoming clear.

When facts, data, and science don’t support your ideology-driven agenda, there are three courses of action as a right-wing conservative corporatist. First, ignore. Second, pay someone to write a study that supports your agenda. Third, pay to have your lies repeated to nationwide media.

The full polls cited above can be found here:

MLSP July Methdology          MLSP July Toplines

MLSP August 2-5 Methodology           MLSP August 2-5 Toplines

MLSP10 August 16-19 Methodology         MLSP August 16-19 Toplines

MLSP11 September Methodology              MLSP11 September Toplines

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Why would Tom Barrett run for Governor…again…?

It is public and common knowledge that Tom Barrett will likely very easily win re-election for Mayor of Milwaukee. According to multiple sources close to campaigns and Labor, he will soon place himself in a more challenging political race – for Wisconsin Governor (again) in a Democratic primary to face Scott Walker in a recall election. The reason for this announcement raises serious questions about who is looking to harness the recall momentum – and the consequences if they succeed.

Independent of each other, two high level sources in political campaigns and organized labor have stated to Badger Democracy that Obama Campaign officials from Chicago recently met with select Barrett campaign people. The purpose of the meeting was to push Tom Barrett to run in a recall election against Scott Walker.

In a recent blog, “Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel privatizing and union busting like Scott Walker – and Barrett may jump right in,”  Badger Democracy examined the role Rahm Emanuel played in Free Trade policies (NAFTA), Union busting, and privatization from his years with Bill Clinton to Barack Obama to the Chicago Mayor’s Office. With Emanuel set to appear in Milwaukee for Tom Barrett on March 28, it is clear that Barrett is poised to become Obama’s pick to unseat Walker. Emanuel and some of his closest advisors are poised to play a key role in the Obama Campaign, and their visit with Barrett indicates they plan on inserting themselves into the Wisconsin recall.

“Ben LaBolt will serve as national press secretary. LaBolt worked for Sherrod Brown‘s 2006 Senate campaign, worked as Obama’s senate press secretary, worked for the 2008 campaign, worked as a deputy White House Press Secretary, and currently works for Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel,[21] Katie Hogan, who worked on the 2008 campaign, will serve as deputy press secretary.[16] Rahm Emanunel is expected to play a role in the campaign. Emanuel served as White House Chief of Staff from January 2009 until October 2010 and worked on President Bill Clinton‘s successful 1992 and 1996 campaigns” (Wikipedia entry)

As if reading from a script, while interviewing Mike Tate (DPW Chair) on his radio show March 13, Ed Schultz asked Tate about candidates poised to run against Walker. Tate dutifully responded with the two official candidates, Kathleen Falk and Kathleen Vinehout. Schultz’s immediate response was “…what about Tom Barrett?” Schultz failed to ask about Doug LaFollette (who has announced his intent to run), Peter Barca, Dave Obey, Jon Erpenbach, or even Russ Feingold – all who have had their names floated – especially Barca. Tate did not add any other names to the pool in response. Schultz immediately jumped to Barrett (who has avoided committing on record) as if reading from the Obama script he so often follows.

Many observers faithful to Barrett will criticize the concern raised by this writing as some type of party “in-fighting,” or a type of “circular firing squad.” But this concern lies at the heart of what this movement represents. A politician, regardless of the “D” behind their name, is to be used by national party money and power to take control of the energy and momentum of this movement. The question is, is this what we have fought for?

For over 14 months, this struggle has begun and continued without the support of Barack Obama and his Administration. He was not on the ground with us marching against Act 10 – in fact, many of us have pleaded  for his support since this struggle began. Now, facing an election, Obama needs Wisconsin as a critical battleground state. His obvious intention – to link his campaign with the energy and power of the Wisconsin grassroots movement with Tom Barrett as the capital “D” Democratic candidate.

Let the people decide. Are we to fight over the scraps left to us by both parties? Does Tom Barrett represent the energy and power of this recall movement? How many times has Barrett marched with teachers and firefighters? How many times has Barack Obama actually stood with Labor in Wisconsin or against job-killing free trade bills? When has Rahm Emanuel honored the negotiating process of collective bargaining? The political actions of these candidates speaks volumes about who they are, and what they represent.

If Tom Barrett were to decide to drop out of the Milwaukee Mayor’s race to run for Governor because people are overwhelming in their demanding that action, so be it. If he were to win a competitive primary, so be it. But – if Barrett intends on running as a pawn to the Obama Administration and beholden to that corporate money; and using the grassroots momentum for that political end – it will serve no good for the people at the heart of this movement or Wisconsin itself, and we all lose the potential to change the politic in Wisconsin for the benefit of the people. 

Ask yourself the question – what does this movement represent, and do the actions of Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, and Tom Barrett embrace those beliefs?   

Responses are welcome. Solidarity.

Wisconsin Recalls and Barack Obama – a letter to the President

On the final day of recall elections, where Democrats are poised to defend a near split in the State Senate, along with winning a majority of the recall elections, Badger Democracy submitted the following letter to President Obama. The President has been on a Midwestern bus tour of Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois – noticeably avoiding Wisconsin. This after responding to a question in Iowa about defending the right to collectively bargain, where Obama indicated that unions and their members should “share the sacrifice” other Americans need to make in difficult economic times. Really… Read on, then let President Obama know what you think.

President Obama,

Today in Wisconsin, the last of nine recall elections are being held. Neo-conservative Corporatist Republicans led by Scott Walker reversed decades of Progressive government in Wisconsin, which threatens the very existence of the middle, working class standard of living. I tell you the obvious, because either you personally or someone on your staff must be apprising you of the situation. That awareness has not been apparent – you have been absent in person, spirit, and policy. Every working Wisconsinite remembers your campaign speech when you stated that you would “walk the picket line” with labor to protect their rights. The recalls in Wisconsin, and the economic attack on working families are about our rights – and I do not belong to a union, but believe very strongly in the right to organize and collectively bargain. This is a right recognized by the United Nations, and has a direct impact on  social, political, and economic equality . You have continued to distance yourself from this fight, and your recent comments in Iowa are very disheartening. It is my opinion, as I have expressed regularly at www.bdgrdemocracy.wordpress.com , is that you are receiving advice from a single-minded group too close to the Friedman/Chicago School of Economics. History acknowledges the role of this school of economics wherever it has been implemented worldwide – and the results are coming to fruition in the United States. A so-called “debt crisis,” high unemployment, dissolution of social and economic safety nets, etc. Of course, the wealthy corporatists reap enormous profits and benefits, as do the politicians who implement and support their policies (ALEC). All at the sacrifice of any attainable standard of living for 90% of working families. It would behoove you to fire your Economic Advisors, and listen to Paul Krugman and Robert Reich – they are correct in what would turn the economy around. The fact is, you lack the political or moral will to stand up to the Corporate Powers pulling the strings. Or you are complicit with them. Either way, you are on course to be the next Herbert Hoover.

In 2008, I voted for you. As a Progressive, I believed the change you promised meant that equal opportunity and equality for all Americans would take a step forward. Instead, the wealth gap continues to increase, and access to the system continues its regression under your watch. Citizens United granted carte blanche for Corporate theft (via money and influence) of our political system, and your recent statements on unions and collective bargaining distance you from the last, best, organized, middle class resistance to this political coup. In essence, you sold us all out after the election for a “deal” which continues to place the economic burden on the vanishing middle class.

Unless your actions change to match your campaign rhetoric, you have lost my vote. I will seek out, support, and stand behind a candidate that reflects the Progressive values we so desperately need (if only Fighting Bob LaFollette were here). As evident in your current bus tour, you have abandoned Wisconsin (Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois,…). I cannot express in words the disappointment I feel in writing this letter. It will be actions, not rhetoric, that will restore the faith many of us Progressives had for you. Until then, many of us will look for a more Progressive voice to represent us.


Scott Wittkopf, Badger Democracy