Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sisters From Another Mister: The Baldwin/Burke Comparison

Another week, another poll. It's not a happy picture for Scott Walker going into November. He doesn't have the commanding lead he had over Tom Barrett in the recall, and political pundits are taking notice.

We think it's a waste of time trying to compare Mary Burke's campaign against Scott Walker to Tom Barrett.

Tom Barrett had already lost once to Walker and had but a paltry 30 days to campaign as the Democratic nominee once the primary was over.

The Siren thinks Tammy Baldwin's race against Tommy Thompson is a more comparable race.

First, Thompson was a governor, with a pretty high approval rating among Wisconsin Republicans - as does Scott Walker.

Baldwin cleared her field of primary candidates, so voters could get to know just her - Burke nearly cleared the field with Brett Hulsey offering some weak primary action.

Even though Baldwin was cast by the GOP as super liberal, she stuck to the issues and never really banked hard left, which appealed to independents and moderates outside Madison.

Mary Burke has taken the cue and hammered Walker on his economic failings and staked her claim as a businesswoman which appeals to the WMC crowd in a way that Scott Walker, as a lifetime public employee, never can.

Most interestingly, at this point in the 2012 election cycle, Baldwin was tied with Thompson in early September. Tommy dominated Tammy all summer, by fall, he just couldn't top 48 percent.

Sounds kinda familiar, doesn't it?

In Scott Walker's Koch-fueled Wisconsin, it seems impossible that a gay, liberal from Madison could topple good 'ol Tommy Thompson, but Baldwin did - by five and a half points. Of, course that was a presidential election year - but there are an awful lot of similarities.

Both Baldwin and Burke talk about their homespun, Wisconsin upbringing. Baldwin was criticised for being too nice, too soft spoken and Burke gets hammered for not portraying herself as more of a liberal.

Looks count too. We think Baldwin and Burke both look like Fairest of the Fair alumni - Wisconsin milkmaids who appeal to the rural crowd and make Scott Walker look like a furtive weasel with a greasy 5 o'clock shadow.

That they are smart, competent women only increases their appeal statewide.

Barrett never led Scott Walker in the polls - Burke does - even if it is within the margin of error.

In a year that looks like it's going to be a good one for women, we suggest that Mary Burke is much more like Tammy Baldwin and the trajectory of her statewide campaign might be just as similar - and that's a very good thing for Democrats.