October 30, 2014

Wisconsin elections head predicts voter turnout at 57 percent

WRN File photo

WRN File photo

Expect plenty of Wisconsin residents to show up at the polls next Tuesday to cast their votes in a race for governor that both of the leading candidates admit will largely hinge on turnout.

The state Government Accountability Board project about 2.5 million voters will cast ballots in the November 4 election, which is about 57 percent of the eligible electors living in the state. GAB executive director Kevin Kennedy says the numbers are “extremely similar” to the ballots cast in the June 2012 recall election, where Governor Scott Walker won over Democratic nominee Tom Barrett. Walker, the Republican incumbent, is seeking reelection in a close race against Democrat Mary Burke.

Kennedy says “anytime you break 50 percent you know it’s got the voters engaged, they think that their vote is going to make a difference, and that’s why they get to the polls.” He says that seems to be the case this year, with major races for governor and attorney general at the top of the ticket. There are also a number of high profile races for Congressional seats, the state Legislature, and local offices, as well as referenda questions and a proposed state constitutional amendment on protecting the state transportation fund.


Burke calls allegation she was fired from Trek ‘ridiculous’

Mary Burke says she was never fired from her family’s business. Less than a week prior to Election Day, the Democrat running against Republican Governor Scott Walker vehemently refuted the allegation from a conservative media outlet, which claimed that she was fired from Trek Bicycle more than twenty years ago.

“That’s ridiculous, and frankly this is the sort of nonsense, six days before an election, baseless allegations that are detering frankly from the issues that are really important here,” said Burke.

During a campaign stop in Green Bay on Wednesday, Burke said that she left a position with Trek’s European operations of her own accord. “We reorganized and eliminated the position that I had, and I left that organization in charge of two other people who reported directly to the U.S.” Burke said.

John Burke, the President of Trek and Burke’s brother, issued a statement noting that the allegations reported by Wisconsin Reporter were attributed to Gary Ellerman, the Chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party. John Burke said Ellerman was fired from Trek in 2004. “His politically motivated characterizations of Mary and her tenure at Trek are inaccurate.”

Walker leads Burke by 7 points in latest Marquette poll

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke and GOP Governor Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke and GOP Governor Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Republican Governor Scott Walker picks up a seven point lead over his Democratic challenger Mary Burke in the final Marquette University Law School poll of this election cycle. Professor Charles Franklin is the poll director. “Walker at 50, Burke at 43.” Franklin points out it’s “a substantial increase from an even tie two weeks ago.”

That seven point lead is among likely voters.

Franklin says the gap between the two candidates is tighter among registered voters, with Walker at 46 and Burke at 45. “So what you’re seeing here in the contrast between all registered voters and a one point race, and all likely voters in a seven point race is just how important differential turnout is.”

Franklin reminds voters, “Polls don’t vote; people do.”

Joe Zepecki is communications director at Burke for Wisconsin. He says the race is “too close to call and going to come down to turnout.” Walker has maintained all along the only poll that matters is on November 4th.

Franklin says it’s the “likely” voter numbers that are more predictive of election outcomes, but that can change.

The poll interviewed 1,409 registered voters, including 1,164 likely voters, by landline and cell phone Oct. 23-26. For the full sample of 1,409 registered voters, the margin of error is +/- 2.7 percentage points. The margin of error for the sample of 1,164 likely voters is +/- 3.0 percentage points. This is the final Marquette Law School Poll before the Nov. 4 election.

Mary Burke votes early in Madison



Mary Burke cast her vote Tuesday in Wisconsin’s closely contested governor’s race. The Democrat cast her early absentee ballot at the Madison clerk’s office – and there were plenty of media on hand as she did. Burke said she wants to make voters aware of the option. “It is to increase awareness of early voting, that there is that opportunity,” she said. The early voting got underway Monday at clerks offices across the state.

In a race that’s all about turnout, Burke said she’s not overly focused on specific numbers of early votes versus those cast on Election Day November 4th. “I look at the turnout overall by November 4th, and certainly need to have good turnout.” she said.

The race is generating support from big names: First Lady Michelle Obama has campaigned twice for Burke, former President Bill Clinton will be in Milwaukee on Friday, and a visit from President Obama is possible in the week prior to the election. “People wouldn’t be here unless they thought I had great chance of winning,” Burke said.

Burke expects turnout to be greater than in the 2010 race for governor, but probably not as large as in the 2012 recall. Republican Governor Scott Walker – who plans to vote on Election Day – has had only one campaign visit from a big name supporter so far – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Walker, Burke make closing arguments in final debate

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke and GOP Governor Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke and GOP Governor Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

The two candidates for governor field questions about jobs numbers, the state budget, education costs, taxes, the Kenosha casino, the economy, and whether to criminalize first offense drunk driving.

The city of Milwaukee gets a lot of attention, with questions about central city violence, unemployment among African Americans, and an arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Governor Scott Walker’s predecessor sees even more attention from the current chief executive. “In the last three years,” Walker says while defending his jobs numbers, “we created twice as many jobs as were created during the three years that my opponent was in charge of the Department of Commerce under Governor Doyle.”

In an effort to compare his Democratic challenger Mary Burke to former Governor Jim Doyle, Walker references Burke’s former boss multiple times. “With the number of times that Governor Walker has mentioned Jim Doyle,” Burke quips, “it’s clear that he’d be running against him than me.”

Burke and Walker differ on drunk driving

Burke says first time offense for driving drunk should be a misdemeanor, saying there needs to be more consequences for the thousands of alcohol-related crashes on Wisconsin roadways. In addition to avoidable deaths, “This is costing our society a lot of money along with the type of personal injury that it causes.”

Republican Governor Scott Walker says it’s a “tragic” issue, but criminalizing first time offenders isn’t the answer. He says the focus needs to be on those who are on the road multiple times driving drunk. “That’s something we have to crack down on,” he says, “Those first time offenders … criminalizing that isn’t the answer. It’s going after repeat offenders.”

Walker says this is an issue that Republicans and Democrats at the Capitol can work on together.

AUDIOOne non-scripted moment came when the clock malfunctioned. :44

Disagreement on the Kenosha casino debate

The high-stakes issue of expanding gaming in Wisconsin gets a lot of attention among the two gubernatorial candidates. Burke says an impartial study is needed before making a decision on a proposal for an off-reservation casino in Kenosha, saying it’s important to look at the impact on Kenosha, Milwaukee, and the state over all.

“I have said that if it shows that it creates a significant number of new jobs and it adds to Wisconsin’s employment and tax base, that I would approve that casino.”

Burke says she will make a decision and won’t “kick the can down the road” like her opponent.

Meanwhile, Walker says he’s done a lot to increase jobs in the area, but says the biggest issue holding up the Kenosha casino project is the tribal compacts his predecessor Governor Jim Doyle negotiated. Walker says he’ll take the time to get it right, so the state doesn’t lose money on the deal. “We’re gonna take the full amount of time that we need to … to make sure we can get to a point where we can create those jobs. We can have a win, win, win. Create the jobs there, protect the jobs in other parts of the state, and make sure we do that without creating a $100,000 hole in the state budget.”

AUDIO: Burke closing argument 2:47

AUDIO: Walker closing argument 3:06

The small percentage of independent voters have just two weeks to make up their minds before Election Day. Walker and Burke continue to say a win in this hotly-contested race will depend largely on voter turn-out. Both candidates have been running head-to-head in polls, with the most recent Marquette University Law School Poll showing them at 47 percent each among likely voters.

The two candidates met in Milwaukee for an event that was sponsored by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and was broadcasts statewide on television and radio. Burke and Walker were questioned by a panel of broadcast journalists. Burke and Walker met the week before for their first debate in Eau Claire.