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Analyzing the early exit polling in the Wisconsin Recall election

It’s only 6:30pm and there are still 2.5 hours to go in the Wisconsin union temper tantrum.. er.. recall elections, but exit polling information is pouring in and there are interesting nuggets in the numbers.

The Washington Post is reporting that “union household comprise roughly a third of all voters” which by itself might seem promising for big labor, but when combined with a question from a Fox News exit poll .. not so much. The Fox poll asked union household voters if they supported Walker or not. 37% of union household voters support Scott Walker. This is the base of support for the recall election and only 63% of one-third (only 21%) of voters would vote for Tom Barret signalling a weak showing for Walker’s opponent.

A surprising result from a CBS News exit poll was that 51% of recall voters would support Obama in the 2012 presidential election while only 45% support Romney. Initially the gap seems wide until history is examined. Obama defeated Senator McCain by 14 points in the 2008 election.  Romney has also been gaining lately in battleground states like Wisconsin.

This recall was started in response to Gov. Walker’s limiting of unions to collectively bargain with the state government. On that question, 50% of Wisconsin voters support the governer while 48% do not.

Perhaps the most important question in the poll was one that asked if the voters were voting for their candidate out of support or if the were voting for their candidate simply as a protest vote against the other candidate. Roughly 90% of Walker voters did so out of support for him while only 53% of Barrett’s voters did the same while 45% voted for him as a protest against Scott Walker. This signals more enthusiasm for Governor Walker and will likely show up in the vote totals when the polls closed.

As a more subjective indication of how the recall may go, Politico is reporting that the White House position is that today’s election means nothing for November. Press Secretary Jay Carney said that “the president is aware of the election. I think he’s got some other responsibilities.I know that he’s not following it minute by minute … You know that he tweeted about it earlier.” A clear indication that the Obama administration does not see a win for Mayor Barrett – as if Obama not bothering to campaign for Barrett wasn’t enough.

Other data from the exit polls were less indicative of a result, but interesting none-the-less:

  • Partisan identification is roughly even at one-third each Republican, Democrat and Independent
  • 54% think government should be limited, 42% believe it should do more
  • 60% said that recall elections should only be done in the case of official misconduct
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