The Rest of the Story

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The story will be the horse race. It always is. Governor Walker and likely Democratic challenger Mary Burke are in a dead heat.  But there are a couple of interesting subplots in the latest numbers from the Marquette Law School Poll.

Like many Democratic candidates, Burke fares especially well with younger voters, and with those who are single (never married, widowed, or divorced).  Governor Walker, the Republican, scores best with those who are middle-age and married.  This is essentially the same voter behavior we saw in the 2012 presidential election.  But in a non-presidential year, the question for Burke will be whether those in the demographics who like her most will show up at the polls.

While the Burke campaign is undoubtedly pleased that the race appears close, one of the poll’s results may be cause for concern for her — 49 per cent of voters say they still don’t know enough about Burke to have an opinion of her.  That spells opportunity for the Walker campaign, which has unleashed a series of ads recently, rushing to define Burke before she defines herself. Read more »

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So What Do You Think of Mary Burke?

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On one level, the results released Wednesday of a fresh round of the Marquette Law School Poll did not contain much new. As Charles Franklin, professor of law and public and policy and director of the poll,  said frequently during the “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” event at which results were presented, there was not much that was statistically different from the poll two months ago. The big headline – and it did, indeed, make big headlines – was that Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke are essentially tied. That was the central result of the May poll as well.

I would suggest two important points that the little-changed results suggest:

One: The May results caught many people by surprise. There seemed to be a perception that, while the race was close, Walker was leading. The Law School Poll is the most closely watched and respected measure of public opinion in Wisconsin, and for the results to show a tie changed the perception of the race. But, as Franklin said on Wednesday, there were suggestions that the results might be a one-time matter, an “outlier.” To have almost identical results two months later should put to rest that notion. The only reasonable conclusion is that this really is a race that is tied at this point. The intense level of campaigning, more than three months before the November election, shows that the candidates themselves are operating on the understanding that this is an intense, highly competitive election that either could win. Read more »

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R.I.P., Gabriel Kolko (1932-2014)

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gabriel-kolko-tnI was saddened to read of the recent death of prominent historian Gabriel Kolko. He suffered from an incurable neurological disease and relocated to the Netherlands. He then took advantage of that nation’s legal euthanasia option and died in Amsterdam on May 19.

When I was an undergraduate, I read and found immensely provocative Kolko’s “The Triumph of Conservatism: A Reinterpretation of American History, 1900-1916” (1963). Kolko argued in the book that big businesses of the early twentieth century actually wanted the federal government to regulate them in order to avoid more restrictive legislation from state legislatures. Self-styled “Progressive” reformers, in Kolko’s interpretation, were wolves in sheep’s clothing. They worked in sneaky ways to preserve corporate power and to short-circuit efforts to rein in exploitative corporate profit-seeking.

In the later stages of his career, Kolko turned increasingly to American war-making and foreign policy, and his works included: Read more »

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Close Poll Results = Hot Campaigning Ahead

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There was audible reaction in the audience of about 100 who were present when Professor Charles Franklin unveiled the primary finding of the new round of the Marquette Law School Poll: The race between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke is essentially a dead heat as of now. That strong reaction echoed across the Wisconsin political world and beyond with its clear signal that this will be a close race that will likely pick up additional energy and attention now.

But in addition to the highlighted results – Walker and Burke each drew 46% support among registered voters and Walker led by a narrow 48% to 45% among those who say they are “absolutely certain” to vote in November – there were interesting indications of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate. Those carried implications for what strategies the campaigns will pursue over the remaining five-plus months of the campaign for governor.

In brief, results of the new poll, and comparisons with prior polls, show Burke gaining strength among women and younger voters, while Walker remains strong among men and older voters. Burke does better than Walker on an “empathy” question – does a candidate care about people like you – and Walker does better on a question about whether a candidate is someone who is “able to get things done.” Read more »

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Conference Probes the Depth and Breadth of Political Polarization

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“I believe in my heart that we have a lot more in common than we have differences,” said Tom Meaux, Ozaukee County Administrator.

But if you do the numbers, we have a dramatic amount not in common. And no one has done the numbers the way the Marquette Law School and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have.

The numbers – voting data, polling results, a wide range of demographic statistics – spell out the polarization that has become a dominant fact of politics in Wisconsin and especially in southeastern Wisconsin. A six-month fellowship at the Law School, funded by the Lubar Fund for Public Policy Research, allowed Craig Gilbert, Washington bureau chief of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, to collaborate with Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, in producing an analysis of the growing political divide that offers remarkable depth and breadth.

The result was a four-part series in the Journal Sentinel and a conference Thursday at Eckstein Hall, sponsored by the Law School and the Journal Sentinel, that brought together Gilbert, Franklin, political leaders, and academic experts to discuss what unites us, what divides us, and what lies ahead, given the intense current divisions. Read more »

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Why Partisanship Bothers Us

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Red_state_blue_stateWith the Marquette Law School conference “Dividing Lines” approaching on May 15, it is worth asking why hard and determined forms of partisanship so unnerve us.

The immediate occasion for this discussion is Craig Gilbert’s study of political polarization in the Milwaukee metropolitan area, and its economic and cultural origins. Gilbert is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Washington bureau chief and this past year served as the Law School’s Lubar Fellow for Public Policy Research. Working with Charles Franklin, professor of law and public policy and director of the Marquette Law School Poll, Gilbert has documented in recent elections a strong and consistent correlation between voting preferences and race, ethnicity, education, and population density (the series to date appearing in the newspaper here, here, and here, with the final entry coming this Wednesday). Marquette Law School’s Professor David Papke has also commented on Gilbert’s research, noting how deliberately conceived public policies such as restricted covenants, exclusionary zoning, and easing of residency rules for municipal employees have contributed to the climate of divisiveness.

As a scholar of journalism and media, I want to probe more deeply the meanings Americans attribute to their experience of political division. Read more »

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Baldwin Points to Tax Issues for the Super-Rich as a Rising Issue

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Could using tax policy to reduce the gaps between the highest income Americans and middle and lower income people be an important, and maybe hot, issue ahead?

Sen. Tammy Baldwin indicated that was her perspective and that she was open to ideas for using tax reform changes to pursue that goal during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Wednesday at Eckstein Hall.

“We clearly have a system that has chosen, in certain policy decisions made, to reward wealth over work,” Baldwin said.  “I think we have to question a system that works that way.”

Baldwin said some other countries have policies that limit the maximum salaries of CEOs in relation to the salaries of their employees. “I don’t think we’re going to see those kind of initiatives” in the United States, she said. “But that leaves the tax code really as our predominant way of looking at this and understanding this. . . . That’s an issue we should think about.” Read more »

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MULS to Welcome Professor Linda Edwards in Fall 2014

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Category: Legal Education, Legal Scholarship, Legal Writing, Marquette Law School, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public
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faculty_lindaedwards2014-04Marquette University Law School’s legal writing professors are pleased to announce that Professor Linda Edwards, E.L. Cord Foundation Professor of Law at University of Nevada Las Vegas, will be joining us as a Boden Visiting Professor for the fall semester of 2014.

Professor Edwards is a leading scholar and leader in the field of legal writing.  She has authored five texts, three of them focused on legal writing, and has written numerous scholarly articles on legal writing, rhetoric, and law. Her recent book, Readings in Persuasion: Briefs that Changed the World (Aspen Law & Bus. 2012) will serve as the basis for the advanced legal writing seminar she will be teaching at MULS next fall. The book discusses why some briefs are more compelling than others and covers briefs written in some of the law’s most foundational cases: Muller v. Oregon (the Brandeis Brief), Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona, Furman v. Georgia, Loving v. Virginia, and others. Professor Edwards says the course will build on what students learned in Legal Analysis, Writing & Research 2, but from a more advanced perspective.

Professor Edwards practiced law for 11 years before becoming the coordinator of NYU’s Lawyering Program. She then spent 19 years at Mercer University School of Law, where she was the director of legal writing and taught legal reasoning and advanced legal writing, as well as property, employment discrimination, and professional responsibility. In 2009, she joined the faculty at UNLV.  Also in 2009, Professor Edwards was awarded the Association of Legal Writing Directors and Legal Writing Institute’s Thomas Blackwell Award for her lifetime achievements and contributions to the legal writing field.

We are very excited to welcome Professor Edwards next fall.

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Poll Results Show Strengths and Weaknesses for Walker and Burke

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A couple of quick observations about the newest Marquette Law School Poll, released Wednesday. It contains good news for Republican Governor Scott Walker, who leads his likely Democratic challenger Mary Burke 48 to 41 percent among those surveyed. Walker should also be heartened by the results of the familiar and important “right direction/wrong track” question. Fifty-four  percent of respondents say Wisconsin is headed in the right direction. Only 42 per cent say we’re on the wrong track. There is also majority support for his recently signed $541 million property and income tax cut.

But the poll reveals several areas of concern for the governor. He remains below 50 percent in job approval and in a head-to-head matchup with Burke. Seventy-three percent of those surveyed say a failure to keep his 250,000 new jobs promise would be “very important” or “somewhat important” in deciding how they would vote. The governor’s opposition to a minimum wage hike and repealing the state’s same sex marriage ban puts him at odds with public sentiment in the poll, and the recently released John Doe documents aren’t helpful. But perhaps the most worrisome result for the Walker campaign is found in question number 32. When asked if Walker “cares about people like me,” 51 percent say he doesn’t. Forty-three percent say he does. Mary Burke fares better on the question. Thirty-six percent say Burke “cares about people like me.” Twenty-nine percent say she doesn’t. But 34 percent say they don’t know, demonstrating that many people still haven’t formed an opinion of Burke. It’s early, but the “empathy” or “compassion” question will be one to watch as the campaign moves into high gear.

 

 

 

 

 

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Burke Zings Walker, Touts Herself as Pro-Business Candidate

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Who’s the real pro-business, pro-jobs candidate in this year’s election for governor of Wisconsin? Mary Burke, who is mounting a major campaign as a Democrat, used an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Tuesday in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall to say it’s her.

Her visit provided her first public comments on her long-awaited economic development plan, which was released late Monday night. With the presumption that jobs and the economy will be the central issue, Burke said she’s the one with specific plans that will create a better business climate in Wisconsin.

Burke held up a four-page position paper on the subject from Walker’s 2010 race for governor and said, “I’ve seen eighth grade term papers that frankly had more work put into them.” She said that in terms of job creation, Wisconsin still ranked 35th in the country and ninth among 10 Midwestern states after three a half years of Walker as governor. Wisconsin also ranks 48th in business start-ups, she said, and she criticized the track record of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which Walker created to succeed the state Commerce Department that Burke headed under Gov. Jim Doyle a decade ago.

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Ribble and Pocan: Political Opposites Find the Attractions of Working Together

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Reid Ribble says that when Mark Pocan was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, Ribble was told by some Republican legislators in Madison he should reach out to Pocan.Ribble said then-Rep. Tammy Baldwin did the same for him when he was elected in 2011.

So Ribble contacted Pocan, and the two developed a friendship that has seen them work together in friendly, civil ways, including in the work of the House budget committee, on which they each serve.

What’s so unusual about that? Only this: Ribble is a Republican who represents the Appleton-Green Bay area in Washington. He is a self-described conservative with a libertarian bent. Pocan is a self-described progressive liberal Democrat who represents the Madison area. (For that matter, Baldwin, who helped Ribble on his arrival and who is now a senator, is one of the most liberal members of Congress.)

You just don’t do that cross-the-aisle stuff in the divisive, highly partisan atmosphere that surrounds Congress.

Or do you? Ribble and Pocan are now leading figures in a growing effort called the No-Labels Problem Solvers, which brings together members in the House and Senate from both parties in informal social settings, just to get to know each other. Ribble was one of the four initial members of the group, which has grown to more than 90, including two other Republican representatives from Wisconsin, Sean Duffy and Tom Petri.

At an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” session Monday at Eckstein Hall, Pocan and Ribble described the effort and their hopes that it will change the way Congress handles many issues and raise the low-opinion so many Americans have of Congress. Read more »

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Norquist Lets Zingers Fly in Eckstein Hall Program

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“I wish you wouldn’t hold back,” Mike Gousha told former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist at the end of an hour-long “On the Issues” conversation at Eckstein Hall on Feb. 5. That got a big laugh from the audience of about 200 because Norquist held back little in giving zinger-filled opinions on a range of subjects.

In nearly four terms as mayor, from 1988 through 2003, Norquist was known for speaking his mind. If anything, he is even more willing to speak out now that he’s a decade removed from that office. A few examples from his session with Gousha, the Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy:

On Waukesha’s request to get access to Lake Michigan for its water supply: Given the way some Waukesha officials have treated issues of importance to the City of Milwaukee, Norquist said, “If I were one of the elected officials, I’d be tempted to say, ‘you want our water, that’s too bad, you can dry up and blow away.’ ” Read more »

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