Progressive Soul Searching in Wisconsin, PA, and other Red Gov. States

The failed attempt last week to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has left many of his opponents to scratch their heads and wonder “was it the money?”, “Was it better organization?”, “Was something wrong with the exit polls?”, and “What does it mean for Obama’s re-election?”  While these questions are interesting there are other questions, races, and issues that can be overlooked.

My state of Pennsylvania has its own Scott Walker as Governor: Tom Corbett.  On May 18 there was a great rally at the Pittsburgh Opera against their giving him an award for his lifetime contribution to the arts [see also, Sean Kitchen’s May 9th article, “Tragedy at the Pittsburgh Opera” for some of the questionable political relationships between Corbett and the Chair of Pittsburgh Opera’s Board of Directors, Michele Fabrizi].  The primary and secondary teachers unions were well-represented but I didn’t see any of the University activists there.

The graphic below shows that PA is one of the worst states when it comes to cuts in Higher Education with a 13.4% decrease in spending with further cuts proposed this coming year with the state related Universities (Jan Brewer’s Arizona and Walker’s Wisconsin are the second and third worst at 25.1% and 20.9% respectively behind New Hampshire at 41.3%).  Of the 18 states that are dark red in the map below 13 have Republican Governors.



The CNN exit poll below shows that in Wisconsin last week, Walker and his challenger Tom Barrett split the 18-24 college age vote in Wisconsin while Barrett won the 25-29 year olds and Walker either won or split the older age groups.  The under 30 age group only comprised 16% of the electorate in Wisconsin (they are about 20% of those over 18 in the state) while they are the ones most likely to adversely affected by Walker’s cuts to higher ed.  50-64 year olds were over represented (34% of the electorate but about 20% of the electorate).




Age Total Barrett Walker Other/No Answer
18-24 9% 48% 51% 1%
25-29 7% 57% 42% 1%
30-39 13% 48% 51% 1%
40-49 19% 37% 63% N/A
50-64 34% 49% 50% 1%
65 or Older 18% 44% 56% N/A






It is true that this is one issue among many at play in the recall race.  It is helpful to look at the data to see where the revealing patterns are about which groups we need to reach out to for 2014 when Walker and Corbett are up for reelection.  I can assure you that their people are looking at population data to see what the trends are for 2012, 2014, and beyond.  Not only are they sitting on a mountain of cash.  They are also sitting on a mountain of data.

Paul Ricci lives in Pittsburgh, PA and blogs at CSI Without Dead Bodies and PUSH-HEALTHCARE 4 ALL PA.

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