A central goal of the public policy initiative at Marquette University Law School has been to provide and encourage serious, level-headed, and provocative consideration of major issues. As we come to the end of 2012, it doesn’t seem presumptuous to say that this has been a very successful year in pursuing that goal.
The Marquette Law School Poll provided insightful, in-depth, and accurate readings on public opinion in Wisconsin throughout a historic year of election after election. The candidates for governor and senator held debates in Eckstein Hall that were televised live across Wisconsin. “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” offered a rich series of programs, free and open to the public, in which newsmakers and consequential figures shared their thoughts. Academic conferences, major lectures, conferences on mental health law and Milwaukee’s future in the Chicago “megacity,” the annual Restorative Justice Initiative conference on civility in public discussion, and two education policy events were all components of a year of thoughtful forays into major issues.
Let us end the year with some highlights of the last two major public policy events of 2012 which we have not reported on this blog previously:
Wisconsin 2012: The voters have spoken. What did they tell us?
December 6, the Appellate Courtroom, Eckstein Hall
To wrap-up an epic year in Wisconsin politics, an array of experts gathered to talk about what happened, with Mike Gousha, the Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy, moderating.
Charles Franklin, visiting professor of law and public policy and director of the Marquette University Law School Poll, presented a county by county analysis showing dramatic differences in the voting in the June recall election for governor and the November presidential race. The map was predominantly red in June, strengthening arguments that Wisconsin was becoming a more Republican state. But in November, the map was much bluer, and many deep-red counties had turned light red. “That’s just stunning in five months to see that much difference,” Franklin said. The biggest shifts between the two elections came in counties that voted Republican each time, but with much smaller margins for presidential candidate Mitt Romney than for Gov. Scott Walker. The smaller margins amounted to a gain for President Barack Obama of 158,000 votes, Franklin said. In other words, Obama’s stronger performance in Republican areas, compared to the showing of Democrat Tom Barrett in the governor’s race, was a central aspect of Obama’s victory in Wisconsin. In counties that voted Democratic both times, Obama ran up a margin that was 135,000 votes larger than Barrett had. Continue reading “Sessions on politics and character wrap-up a big year for policy programs”