Michael Barone reports that Wisconsin is turning on Governor Walker, and the electorate there might be poised to recall a number of the Republican legislators who stood with him in his fight against the public unions and for a more balanced budget. Governors Kasich in Ohio and Corbett in Pennsylvania are in trouble, and polls indicate that Tea Party support is down in general, or at least among low-income voters.
What’s the problem? How has the worm turned so very suddenly? After all, the election was only last November.
An answer I happen to agree with is provided by commenter “paul1149″ at Hot Air:
Walker has been magnificent, but he and our side have failed to get the message out. It was and is a message that will resound with most people – it’s a winner – but if people do not have basic economics explained to them they just don’t know what’s going on. Such is the level of citizenship at this point in time…
Too much was assumed. This is a nation, after all, that place[d] Barack Obama in office…
Barone agrees, although he offers a bit more cause for optimism, as do certain polls in which rephrased questions draw different responses:
There’s an assumption by many Republicans, seemingly shared by Walker, that voters settled these issues definitively in the November elections. But the IWV poll suggests that voters are not necessarily well-informed and have been swayed by those who frame the issue as collective bargaining “rights.”
Respondents become more favorable to Walker’s position when informed that public employees are paid 45 percent more than private-sector union members and that union dues have been automatically deducted and go to support candidates workers may not favor.
In New Jersey, a more Democratic state than Wisconsin, Gov. Chris Christie has won majority support in his struggles with public employee unions by making his case repeatedly, with facts and figures, and with a forcefulness that has made his town hall appearances a YouTube hit.
But Christie is sui generis, a YouTube sensation who has a unique ability to get to the heart of the matter in an entertaining way. He’s like the rare star teacher who commands a spellbound classroom with the sheer force of his intelligence, eloquence, and personality. We can’t expect all Republican governors and legislators to have these skills; it’s unrealistic.
But short of a Christie cloning, how to get the message out? Not only is the MSM failing to cooperate, it’s bound and determined to foist a competing message on the public. The school system, for the most part, likewise. In addition, there’s a natural backlash to the message of austerity the Tea Party wing of the GOP is trying to put out right now. Everyone wants a free lunch, and no one wants his or her own lunch money cut.
It’s all very well and good to talk about budget cuts in general. It’s the particulars that smart. And if the public is factually ignorant and/or economically illiterate, the game is over before it has begun, and the forces of misinformation find it easy to win.