I recently posted that Governor Doug Ducey, the man hired by Koch Industries to manage their Southwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Arizona, is hosting Governor Scott Walker, “the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their Midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin” (h/t Charles Pierce) at, where else, an Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry event. Chamber Leadership Series.
If the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry really wants to learn about “Leadership,” rather than just pander to anti-labor GOP candidates, they should invite Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to speak instead.
My relatives from Minnesota recently visited Tucson and joked about a recent skit on A Prairie Home Companion:
TR (LAW ENFORCER): Sgt. Lance Peterson, Minnesota Border Patrol……If you’re coming to St. Paul from the east, a reminder that we are 18 miles from the Wisconsin border and tensions can be high on account of Minnesota is a progressive state whereas Wisconsin is in the hands of a right-wing oligarchy serving the interests of the rich. Interstate 94 is open, which connects Minnesota to Chicago, by way of Wisconsin, but when you’re on it, you’ll find out that Wisconsin people due to poor public education are unable to read road signs. And during the football season, with their team having gotten to the NFC finals thanks to a referee’s bad call in their game with Dallas, Wisconsinites are at a fever pitch and travel through the state by people with outstate plates can be hazardous. Every day thousands of Wisconsinites try to cross the border in order to take advantage of things we have that they don’t, such as libraries, good schools, the arts, and high-paying jobs. From time to time, our Border Patrol may stop westbound traffic and randomly check the vehicles with our cheese-sniffing dogs (SFX). This is for your own safety. And on Sunday, after Green Bay goes down to defeat in the NFC final, the border will be closed until Monday morning to prevent road rage. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause to travellers. Thank you for your attention. Have a good day.
There is a great deal of truth behind this humor. Minnesota and Wisconsin are a real life laboratory for a side-by-side experiment in a Democratic progressive state government versus a Republican regressive state government. The contest is not even close.
Steve Benen reports, Wisconsin and Minnesota: A One-Sided Political Competition:
Wisconsin and Minnesota have long made fascinating bookends. As longtime readers may recall, the two neighboring states have similar sizes, similar populations, similar demographics, and even similar climates. But they don’t necessarily have similar politics, at least not lately.
In the 2010 elections, the Badger State elected Scott Walker (R) governor and gave control of the legislature to Republicans, while the Gopher State made Mark Dayton (D) governor and, in 2012, elected a Democratic legislature. The former got to work targeting collective bargaining and approving tax cuts, while the latter raised taxes on the wealthy and boosted in-state investments.
Nearly five years later, one of these two states is doing quite well. Policy.mic had an interesting report this week.
Since 2011, Minnesota has been doing quite well for itself. The state has created more than 170,000 jobs, according to the Huffington Post. Its unemployment rate stands at 3.6% — the fifth-lowest in the country, and far below the nationwide rate of 5.7% — and the state government boasts a budget surplus of $1 billion. Forbes considers Minnesota one of the top 10 in the country for business.
As Patrick Caldwell recently explained very well, Minnesota’s gains come on the heels of tax increases on Minnesota’s top 2% and higher corporate taxes, both of which state Republicans said would crush Minnesota’s economy. As for their neighbors to the east:
By a number of measures, Wisconsin hasn’t fared as well as Minnesota. As the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal reports, Wisconsin’s job growth has been among the worst in the region, and income growth is one of the worst in the country. It has a higher unemployment rate than Minnesota. And the budget is in bad shape.
Back in January, the editorial board of LaCrosse Tribune wrote, “The governors of Wisconsin and Minnesota each presented their versions of new year’s resolutions in various media interviews last week….Which approach is better? As we enter the new year, Minnesota is clearly winning by a long shot.”
Political scientist Lawrence Jacobs published a related comparison a while back, which drew a similar conclusion: “The lesson from the upper Midwest is that rigid anti-tax dogma fails to deliver a convincing optimistic vision that widens economic opportunity and security. The excesses of liberalism may lurk, but Minnesota is building a modern progressivism that plows a hopeful path.”
Comparisons between states can be inherently tricky, but that’s what makes the Minnesota/Wisconsin test so interesting – two similar, neighboring states, trying very different approaches at the exact same time, facing identical national conditions.
I’d imagine most Republicans might find the results hard to explain.
For all those FAUX Nation Tea-Publicans for whom Scott Walker is the latest flavor of the month, he’s really not all that. Nate Cohn, writes, Scott Walker’s Electoral Record Is Less Impressive Than It Looks:
Scott Walker might well prove to be a stronger general election candidate than Mitt Romney. That’s not a very high bar. But his electoral record — three wins in governor’s races in four years in Wisconsin, including a recall election — isn’t as impressive as it looks.
It’s not clear that Mr. Walker would have won re-election in November 2012, when he wouldn’t have had the many benefits of running in an off-year election. It’s still less clear that he could have run far ahead of Mr. Romney had he sought federal office; he would have been deprived of the labor and pensions issues that have split Democratic-leaning voters in many parts of the country.
Mr. Walker’s electoral performance was average for a Republican running for governor in 2010 or 2014. His showing — a modest victory in a modestly Democratic state — was highly consistent with the extent that Republican candidates for governor outperformed Mr. Romney’s showing from 2012.
One could even argue that Mr. Walker’s performance was the least impressive of any Republican candidates for governor in the Midwest.
In neighboring and politically similar Iowa, the Republican Terry Branstad won election and re-election by a far wider margin than Mr. Walker.
To the east, in neighboring Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder won by a similar margin in a more Democratic state, even though he also picked a fight with labor.
To the south, a Republican candidate for governor won the dark-blue state of Illinois.
Farther away, Republicans won Ohio by a huge margin and carried states more Democratic than Wisconsin, like New Mexico, Maryland, Maine and Massachusetts.
There’s even a case that Mr. Walker didn’t have the best Republican performance in Wisconsin. Ron Johnson, a self-funded political novice, managed to defeat an incumbent, Russ Feingold, by a five-point margin in 2010. Despite that showing, some analysts believe Mr. Johnson is the single most vulnerable senator of the 2016 cycle.
What allowed Republican candidates to run so far ahead of Mr. Romney? First was low midterm turnout. Republicans don’t really want to hear this, but much — though not all — of their success in 2010 and 2014 is simply a product of lower turnout. In the case of Mr. Walker, it probably explains about half of the extent to which he outperformed Mr. Romney in 2012.
* * *
The balance of polling data is consistent with the theory that Mr. Walker benefited from off-year turnout. In pre-election polling, Mr. Walker was consistently locked in a dead heat among registered voters, but ended with a substantial advantage among likely voters.
Similarly, the exit polls suggest that the electorate was substantially more Republican in Mr. Walker’s elections than it was in the presidential election.
In his 2012 recall election, for instance, self-identified Republicans outnumbered Democrats by a one-point margin. Five months later, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by five points in the general election. Mr. Walker benefited from a Republican-leaning electorate again in 2014, when registered Republicans again outnumbered Democrats by one point.
These figures suggest that Mr. Walker would have struggled to win re-election with a presidential electorate. On the other hand, it’s hard to argue that Mr. Walker didn’t outperform Mr. Romney — who lost by a clear seven-point margin.
“None of this is to say that Mr. Walker isn’t electable, just that the case for his electability wouldn’t rest on his electoral record.”