Is Scott Walker the most politically polarizing governor in the nation? UW Madison political scientist Charles Franklin said recent polling numbers seem to show Walker has that distinction. “When you’re splitting the electorate 90/10 and 10/90, it’s very hard to be more polarizing than that, between Democrats and Republicans,” said Franklin. A February poll by Public Policy Polling, a Democrat leaning firm, showed Walker with an 86% approval rating among Republicans, and just 8% among Democrats. And a poll for the conservative Wisconsin Policy Research Institute also found an 8% approval rating for Walker by Democrats, and 90% among Republicans.
Franklin said the Walker split between those identifying themselves with either party is more pronounced than the same split for President Bush, and more pronounced than any other recently elected governors. “Jerry Brown in California right now is fairly polarizing,” Franklin said. “He has a 20% approval among Republicans and 70% among Democrats. But that’s a 50 point gap in the approval rating for Brown, versus the 78 point or so gap we’re seeing in Wisconsin.” Franklin speculated that the three weeks of protests here may have served to drive those polling numbers. He noted Ohio Governor John Kasich is proposing similar restrictions on public employee unions while still polling at 25% among Democrats there.