The Washington Post

Unions flex muscle in early Wisconsin recall exit polls

Early exit polling in the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election suggests that union household comprise roughly a third of all voters, a share of the vote that is higher than either of the last two presidential or gubernatorial elections held in the state.

Voters in the recall also tilt positively toward public sector unions in general, but not by a huge margin. Voters split about evenly in their support for changes to state law that limited the collective bargaining ability of government unions, an issue at the heart of recall effort.

Drawing broad conclusions about the shape of the electorate remains difficult due to the fact that these early exit poll reflect only morning and afternoon voters and can (and likely will) shift before polls close at 9 p.m. eastern time.

Still the preliminary numbers hint at answers to some key questions.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during a news conference at the Wisconsin Republican Party convention in Green Bay, Wis., on Friday, May 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer)

* 2010 Redux: The makeup of the voters appears very close to the original 2010 contest — on race, ideology and religion, among other factors. The early data do skew a little older, which may be a function of who cast ballots earlier in the day.

* Party identification: There’s rough parity in the recall electorate — about a third each identify as Democrats, Republicans and independents — in early exit poll results.

* Party favorables: Just fewer than half of voters in preliminary exit poll results hold favorable views of both the Democratic and Republican parties. These early results closely reflect the divided attitudes of the state in the 2010 midterm election.

* Tea party: The tea party fervor that swept the 2010 midterms looks to be stable this year, with similar numbers supporting and opposing the movement.

* Crossover voters: There is very little evidence of substantial crossover voting between the races for governor and lieutenant governor in preliminary exit polls. Split ticketing was a possibility as Wisconsinites cast separate votes for the two offices, but early exit poll results find only limited reports of such voting behavior.


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