UYGUR: While Republicans across the Midwest were working to take away union rights, we said, they might be able to win the short term legislative battle. But their draconian measures would cause them to lose the long-term war of public opinion. And now we‘re starting to see that play out, now just in Wisconsin, but across the Midwest. Steve Bennett of the Washington Monthly reports that governor of three states with recent high-profile union battles are feeling the heat in the polls big time.
In Ohio, Governor John Kasich eked out a victory November with a 49 to 47 win over incumbent Governor Ted Strickland, but a recent poll shows if Ohio voters had to do it over again, Kasich would lose by 15 points. Only 40 percent of the people would vote for him. And it‘s worse for Governor Rick Snyder in Michigan. When he took office in January, his favorability rating was 59 percent. It‘s just very high. Since then, it‘s taking a 15 point nose dive to 44 percent. And in Wisconsin, the Koch funded union busting Governor Scott Walker is also hurting. When he was elected in November, 35 percent of the people had an unfavorable view of him, but this month, that number shot up 18 points to 53 percent unfavorable. Now, after those dismal numbers, these Republicans must be feeling a little something like this.
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Someone help me, I‘m still alive, but badly burned.
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UYGUR: Badly burned. Meanwhile, the president may have benefited from the republican assault on unions. Even though he barely weighed in on the subject, in Ohio, a key battleground state, a recent poll shows the president is doing significantly better, his potential 2012 challengers, than he was just three months ago. At that time, he was up by just two points against Mitt Romney. Only one against Mike Huckabee, he has a six point edge on Newt Gingrich and seven on Sarah Palin. But now he‘s up by six on Romney, seven on Huckabee, and he‘s blowing away Gingrich and Palin by 12 and 16 points respectably.
And while Ohio‘s internal union battles may not be wholly responsible, but the president turned around in the polls, it seems like the illusion of Republicans being the answer to our nation‘s problems is over. And this is the president‘s main advantage going into 2012. It could be worse, it could be those guys.
Joining me now from Milwaukee is John Nichols, Washington correspondent for “The Nation.” All right. John, at this point, are the Republicans feeling the heat of those polls? Are they seeing those polls in a slight panic like hey, you know what? We might have gone the wrong way here.
JOHN NICHOLS, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: There‘s simply no question they‘re feeling the heat. And I can tell you these both from what their actions publicly, there‘s a desperation to the way that the Republicans have tried to force this bills forward trying to do it rapidly, often making serious mistakes that have opened up a host of legal problems for them. They‘re in the courts all over the place, and there are going to be constitutional challenges. But additionally, you‘re seeing that behind the scenes desperation.
Frank Luntz, the republican messaging guy who actually came up with the contract with America back in the 1990s has been flying around of these states needed secretly with the governors. Of course, the secret has come out now. We know that the day after Governor Scott Walker took a fake call from somebody he thought was David Koch. That next morning, he was sitting huddling with Frank Luntz trying to figure out what to do. And so, what we know is that they‘re very, very concerned, they recognize they‘ve got a problem. Unfortunately, they push themselves into a corner that‘s going to be very hard for these republican governors to get out.
UYGUR: All right. Let‘s play a fun game here, John. I know it‘s a, you know, little political. But look, we‘ve got six republican state senators in Wisconsin that are up for recall. There‘s more, but they‘re really targeting those six. And then you‘ve got Walker in Wisconsin, who‘ve got Snyder in Michigan, and you‘ve got Kasich in Ohio. Those, they could also be up for recall. Those three governors. So, out of those nine, how many of them do you think actually get recall?
.NICHOLS: Well, here‘s the big deal. And I think we need to look at it. And the many steps that you would go up in this process. The first recalls would be those state senators in Wisconsin. If three of those six states senators who are targeted, if three of them are defeated, and replaced by Democrats, then control of one house of the Wisconsin legislature flips to the Democrats. That creates the situation where Walker‘s agenda become stalled. That‘s a very, very significant development, something that almost never happens, but it is likely to happen, in fact, I think quite likely. Then you start to look at those gubernatorial recalls. Those are big deals. We‘ve had only two gubernatorial recalls in the history of the United States, one in North Dakota and one more recently in California.
UYGUR: I remember that.
NICHOLS: Now, we have the prospect of as many as three, yes, of course. And now, we have the prospect of as many as three in a region that is the key presidential battleground. Think about that instability for the Republican Party, that as they go into the 2012 election, you‘ve got three of the governors who were supposed to be in place to help carry a republican nominee to victory battling for their own political survival.
UYGUR: All right. President Obama‘s got to be loving this. He needs those states that big swing in Ohio is amazing. Now, I‘ll tell you what, if they get two out of the three republican governors, that‘s a huge, huge win for the Democrats, and in my opinion the middle class and the Republicans, well, they probably won‘t change their ways anyway. Because they get funded to do this stuff. But it‘s an important development. John Nichols, thanks so much for covering this or joining us tonight on this.
NICHOLS: It‘s great to be with you.
UYGUR: All right. Thanks, John.