The Polls are In: U.S. Voters Overwhelmingly Disapprove of Walker’s Attack on Public Employees

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By Tim Reed

With the focus in Wisconsin on Governor Scott Walker and the Senate Democrats who have fled the state to block the proposed budget bill and attacks on public workers and unions, it is easy to forget those whose voices are supposed to matter most: the voters.

Three recent polls, from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, the Pew Research Center, and the New York Times/CBS News show strong disapproval for Walker’s draconian attacks on the rights of the middle class.

Wisconsin Policy Research Center

The WPRI, a conservative-leaning, free-market think tank has conducted a poll that shows Wisconsinites disapproving of Governor Walker and saying he should compromise with unions and public employees. The poll also shows strong support for his opposition; Senate Democrats, public employee unions, and teachers’ unions.

Some key approval ratings:

  • Walker: 43% approve, 53% disapprove
  • Senate Democrats : 50% approve, 42% disapprove
  • Public employee unions in general: 59% favorable, 34% unfavorable
  • Teachers’ unions: 59% favorable, 36% unfavorable

Respondents were also asked specifically about Walker’s budget plan and the need to compromise with public employee unions:

  • Do you favor or oppose Walker’s plan?: Favor 46%, Oppose 51%
  • Walker should stand strong for the plan he has proposed no matter how long the protests go on, OR Walker should negotiate with Democrats and public employees’ unions in order to find a compromise solution?: Stand strong 33%, Compromise 65%
  • Do you believe proposed changes to public employee bargaining rights are a necessary reform or an attempt to get rid of public employee unions?: Necessary reform 43%, an attempt to get rid of public employee unions 50%

To read a write up about this poll on Talking Points Memo, click here. For the complete poll, please visit the Wisconsin Policy research Institute here.

Pew Research Center

A recent Pew Research Center poll is showing a plurality of the United States public siding with unions rather than Governor Walker. The poll also has interesting things to say about the supporters on both sides, showing strong support for unions by those with a household income of less than $75,000, while the affluent are more evenly split. Unsurprisingly, Republicans lean towards supporting Walker, while Democrats support unions, though at a much higher ratio than Republicans support Walker. Independents also lean slightly towards supporting unions.

Some key findings:

  • In the collective bargaining dispute, do you side more with: public employee unions 42%, Walker 31%
  • When asked the same question, independent voters responded: unions 39%, Walker 34%
  • Those with a household income of more than $75,000 lean slightly in favor of Walker: unions 36%, Walker 40%
  • Voters with a household income of $30,000-$74,999 and less than $30,000 strongly favor unions with: unions 49%, Walker 31% and; unions 46%, Walker 20%, respectively

To read more on the Pew Research Center poll, visit their site here.

New York Times/CBS News

A New York Times/CBS News poll shows that a majority of Americans not only oppose efforts to weaken collective bargaining, but also oppose balancing state budgets on the backs of public workers. Americans oppose weakening bargaining rights of public employee unions by a margin of nearly two to one (60% to 33%), and while a slim margin of Republicans support taking away some bargaining rights, they are vastly outnumbered by strong majorities of Independents and Democrats who oppose stripping rights from workers. Respondents were also polled on the influence of labor unions in American life and politics in general.

Some key numbers:

  • In order to reduce state budget deficits, do you favor or oppose cutting the pay or benefits of public employees?: favor 37%, oppose 57%
  • Do you favor or oppose taking away some collective bargaining rights of public employee unions?: favor 33%, oppose 60%
  • Do you think labor unions have too much, too little, or about the right amount of influence on American life and politics today?: too much 37%, too little or the right amount 48%
  • Do you think the salaries and benefits of most public employees are too high, too low, or about right?: too high 26%, too low 25%, about right 36%

For more information on the New York Times/CBS News poll, please read this article from the New York times.

Want to make your voice heard but haven’t been called for a poll? Sign our national petition in support of worker rights.

Reader Comments

  1. It’s easy to bash the union until all your rights have been taken away by power-hungry politicians. I don’t agree with my union 100% of the time but I’m glad it has my back. The teachers in our district were asked to make debilitating sacrifces while our superintendent got a raise! Is that fair? Do our children benefit from such lopsided values? Of course not! Our union remained firm and we ended up signing a more reasonable agreement with the district where BOTH sides had to give a little and no draconian cuts were made.

  2. People wake up! This isn’t an attack on teachers. This is a state trying to save their childrens futures! Can you REALLY say that the NEA represents your beliefs? I can’t, but I am FORCED to belong to the union. This is crazy. We preach about bullies and how prevention needs to start with us. Well, our union is just a bunch of bullies. Grow up! We are in serious trouble and we need to make sacrifices to survive. Aren’t the kids worth it? I know mine are.

  3. Please stop the attack on hardworking teachers. We work hard and fight every day for the rights of the children we serve. Stand with us and not against us.

  4. This attack on teachers is against all fundamental American principals. First, the original, REAL Tea Party was all about DEMOCRACY. Hitler would have been proud of this bully group that refuses to negotiate across a table and offers nothing but unconditional surrender. Second, this is an attack on an occupation mostly made up of women. Duh, do they have a brain? Also, all Americans learned in Kindergarten the first rule of school is “Don’t mess with teacher”. In my opinion, I think they are in for a political spanking!

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