Monday, March 21, 2011

Gov. Walker right on emails, but still wrong on state support

Earlier this month I made a claim that I can’t stand behind any longer, or at the very least need to amend.

I stated that Gov. Scott Walker was misleading when he said that most of the emails he received regarding his budget repair bill were in favor of his position. He also went on to say that a “silent majority” supported his plan, and that he wouldn’t give in because a sizable amount of emails from the people of Wisconsin wanted him to push forward with his agenda.

An analysis of the emails his office received – a sampling of nearly 2,000 of the 50,000 that were available – shows that Walker was right, that most of the emails were from supporters (about a 60-30 margin).

I would therefore like to retract my statement arguing that Walker was “making up” his assertion on the emails of support he received.

That being said, it’s still clear that Walker is ignoring the people of the state. Poll after poll shows that majorities of the Wisconsin people reject his bill, and largely support the efforts of unions to preserve their collective bargaining rights.

It might do some good, too, to further analyze the breadth of the emails that Walker received as well. According to the Isthmus, one-third of the supportive emails Walker got were from out-of-state. That means of the 62 percent of the emails supporting him -- or about 31,000 emails -- only about 20,670 were from supporters within the state.

Conversely, about 89 percent of the emails against Walker's bill were from in-state, which means Walker received approximately 14,400 emails against his proposal.

So Walker is still right about his assessment of the emails he received, that most were from in-state supporters. However, given the size of the emails he received versus the number of Wisconsinites that showed up to the Capitol steps to protest it, does it even matter?

Let’s do the math: While still a sizable number, the 20,670 emails of support is minuscule in comparison to the size of actual protesters that came to Madison to argue against Walker’s bill in person. More than 100,000 protesters, most of them from Wisconsin, came on March 12 to welcome back the 14 State Democratic Senators and to protest the recently passed bill Walker had signed the day before. Even if half of those present were from out-of-state (a very generous concession to say the least), it’s still more than double the emails Walker received in support from Wisconsin citizens. Add in the number of emails Walker received in opposition to his bill from Wisconsin citizens (approximately 14,400), and it’s more than three times the number of emails he got in support -- and again, that's with the generous concession that half of the 100,000 protesters were from out of state. Without that concession, the number of those opposing Walker's budget repair bill vs. the number of emails he received in support is more than 5-to-1 in favor of the protesters.

Walker was right in that the number of emails he received in regards to his budget repair bill were mostly in support of his position. But the number of in-state supporters (approximately 20,670) who emailed him was only a few thousand more than those that emailed him in opposition (14,400, or just above a 6,000 difference). That number is more than made up for in the sum of Wisconsinites that came to Madison to show their opposition in person, which at its height reached six-figure numbers.

The claims of a “silent majority” supporting Walker are still outrageous – even if the number of emails he received were generally in favor of his proposal, the numbers that came to him directly through the protests in Madison outweighed them significantly. Scott Walker is purposefully ignoring those protesters, as well as the polling numbers, that indicate that Wisconsin opposes his political agenda.

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