Here, for example, is Michael Tomasky celebrating a poll indicating that, although they think that Democrats should return to the state so that its Senate can resume its business, a majority of Wisconsinites disapprove of the content of Walker’s plan to limit public employee collective bargaining rights:
Another AFL-CIO poll shows, to Tomasky's satisfaction, that "[m]ost people just don't hate schoolteachers, and aren't going to be worked up into a frenzy against them, and don't think them greedy either."“These are the first polls I've seen on the Wisconsin business, and guess what? Trouble for Mr. Governor.
“This is from WeAskAmerica, which TPM says is a GOP-friendly outfit, and is an automated poll. The firm asked two questions: basically, which side are you on, the governor's or the unions', and should the Democratic legislators report back to Madison.
“On the second one, of course a majority said yes, by 56-36%. But on the first question, 43% approved of Gov. Scott Walker's plan against collective bargaining, and 51% disapproved. Interestingly, even non-union households were evenly split at 48-46% (within the margin of error).”
I don’t begrudge Tomasky or any other sturdy liberal his hopes. These days, they have to find consolation wherever they can. But let’s review some undisputed facts: Scott Walker has made a political career out of deploring the budgetary consequences of public sector collective bargaining. He ran for Governor promising to balance the budget by cutting public spending and public employee unions down to size. If his political opponents hadn’t taken Walker at his word they wouldn’t have run all those campaign ads saying that anyone who is out to break public sector unions is unworthy of high office.
Three months ago, Wisconsin voters elected Walker and substantial Republican majorities in both houses of the state legislature anyway. Even the poll that's inspiring Tomasky's hopes suggests that a 56-36% majority disapproves of Democrats staying out-of-state to prevent duly elected Senate Republicans from conducting the public’s business. Yet he and other Democrats are doing their best to convince themselves that the day’s new polling data about specific planks of the Walker agenda and the popularity of public sector employees, is a more reliable measure of the politically relevant state of public opinion than a recently concluded, and depressingly decisive, election.
Haven't we seen something like this before? Recall the weeks after Scott Brown won a Senate seat in the bluest of blue states by promising to be the 41st vote against ObamaCare. Liberal Democrats shook it off by convincing themselves that they’d still be doing themselves a political favor by passing ObamaCare because some of its separate provisions polled so well when considered in isolation. Whatever you think of the merits of ObamaCare as public policy, it’s hard to deny that Democrats paid a steep political price for deluding themselves about what actual election returns revealed about its unpopularity. Looks to me like they're doing it again.