I wasn't really going to start on this until after the new year, but...
I sent an email to the Lena Taylor campaign website to see how last week's event with Governor Jim Doyle went, as the local media decided not to even mention it. But to be fair, they haven't mentioned Walker's either. John Zapfel, her campaign manager responded with an email saying things went very well (no, I didn't expect him to say it stunk), but their biggest concern right now is money. At the end of the year, the campaigns are to submit their financial reports, and it is expected that Walker will have a much stronger showing. This only makes sense, since he was already sitting on a war chest that is almost equivalent to what he spent four years ago on his last election for County Exec.
Now, even though I am still learning about the intricacies of political campaigning, it doesn't take a PhD in poli sci to know that money is what makes the political world go round. What is more pertinent to me is the trends and the positions. I will attempt to do my modest attempts at covering the latter after New Years.
For the former part, the trends, that is easy to cover. It has already been done for me. Progressive Majority Wisconsin had a survey done and the result were astonishing:
County Executive Scott Walker is in an very vulnerable position going into the 2008 election for County Executive. Walker’s support falls well below the 50% threshold that separates vulnerable incumbents from safe ones, and leads his challenger, State Senator Lena Taylor by only 7 points (35% Taylor, 41% Walker). About a quarter (24%) of the electorate is undecided. Walker’s lead is likely predicated on his sizable advantage in name recognition (Walker: 90% hard ID; Taylor: 33% hard ID). When this advantage is eliminated by examining only the 30% of the electorate that knows both candidates, Taylor actually leads by a sizable margin (55% Taylor, 31% Walker).
Walker’s re-elect rating provides a second indication of vulnerability. Only 38% of county voters say they will vote to re-elect Walker, while 27% will consider voting for someone else, and 19% would replace Walker.
You can read the whole report here (pdf) (and it's got all sorts of pretty colored graphs).
Now some people might dismiss the results because it was done by a "liberal" polling company. Walker apparently didn't. He immediately emailed a lengthy rant about it to his mouthpiece, Charlie Sykes, who promptly put the whole thing up on his blog. One thing that you won't find Charlie posting is the response from Kristen Crowell, Political Director of Progressive Majority Wisconsin:
Dear Charlie,Oh, 2008 could be shaping up to be an interesting year. Not only this, but I think I heard somthing or other about a presidential race going on...
I thought I would weigh in since the County Executive was speaking about a poll that we commissioned. This poll was conducted among spring voters and did not "steer" the answers towards Senator Taylor in any way. It was not a "push poll" as is alleged, more an accurate picture of the electorate.The County Executive is nervous because this poll shows this picture of the voters today and this picture isn't pretty for him. The poll shows that voters want to replace Walker and will vote for Senator Lena Taylor, a Milwaukee native and resident running to unseat him.
Walker's charge that we are a liberal firm fronting for a liberal candidate is simply a smokescreen to distract your readers from the truth. The truth is that Walker never once got an approval rating over 50%, a terrible place for an incumbent to be only months before the election. We are a progressive organization, that much Walker gets correct, but in no way could this poll manipulate the minds and hearts of the residents of Milwaukee County. Residents, of whom only 31% strongly favor Walker, residents who 49% believe that Milwaukee County is headed in the wrong direction, and residents who will vote this spring.
Need I then bring up the 8th County Board seat? The seat that became vacant when Ryan McCue became the Mayor of Cudahy? The one where the Walker-endorsed candidate lost to Pat Jursik. That was in August, well before the campaign for County Executive started and even then voters weren't moved. Walker should be afraid, but he shouldn't be afraid of our poll, he should be afraid of the reality that he has created. Voters want someone new, he did that all by himself.
SIDENOTE: If you, like me, would like to see some improvements in Milwaukee County, some leadership in the Courthouse, and the people of the area actually getting something for their tax dollars, please go to Lena's website and see how you can help.