In an interview with Dan O’Donnell of local talk radio station WISN, the account of Mary Burke’s departure from a management role at her family’s company was confirmed in all its essentials by former President and COO Tom Albers.
Mr. Albers confirmed that Burke had performed very poorly as chief of European operations. She caused the loss of an unspecified but substantial amount of revenue to the company, and also caused severe “people problems.” She was even recalled and forced to attend a management meeting at the company’s Wisconsin headquarters, where she was made to apologize for her performance,
She then left the company on her extended snowboarding “sabbatical.” When she rejoined the firm two years later, she was deliberately placed in a position created for her which involved no managerial responsibilities.
In an interview with talk show host Vicki McKenna on the same radio station, Gary Ellerman — who originally went public with the story of Mary Burke’s private sector career — reiterated the story, and also stated that he was present in meetings in which Burke forcefully advocated outsourcing Trek’s manufacturing operations from the United States.
Burke is on record, numerous times, stating that she had had nothing to do with the decisions to outsource jobs, and that she would vigorously oppose outsourcing jobs from Wisconsin if she is elected governor.
To add to the horrendous development for Burke’s campaign, the final Marquette Law School poll taken before the general election next Tuesday was released on Wednesday with stunning results in favor of Scott Walker. Walker is leading Mary Burke among likely voters by a seven-point margin, 50% to 43%. Among registered voters, the lead is much smaller, 47% to 46%.
Last week’s poll showed the campaigns in a dead heat among likely voters, 47% to 47%. Meaning a seven-point swing took place even before the news of Burke’s covered-up background reached voters.
The huge swing has led the Burke campaign to dismiss the poll as an outlier. Yet the sample size of the poll was quite large for a state the size of Wisconsin (in general, the larger the sample, the more reliable the poll). 1,409 registered voters participated; of these, 1,164 expressed virtual certainty that they would vote. This number suggests a likely voter turnout of 70%, fairly high for an off-year election. Marquette calculates the margin of error to be 2.7%.
The pollster explains the massive shift in terms of turnout, rather than due to changes of opinion among the voters themselves, and this finds support in the numbers. Among likely voters, 93% of Republicans say that they are likely to vote, vs. 82% of Democrats and 75% of independents. In last week’s poll the ratio of Republican to Democratic likely voters was much closer, 82% to 80%.
The numbers for the male-female gap are also quite stunning. Among women likely to vote, Mary Burke still enjoys a lead, 49% to 43% (among registered voters, the gap is wider, 50% to 40%). However, among likely male voters, Walker leads 58% to 36% (among the registered voters, 53% to 39%, both far larger spreads, suggesting that the oft-discussed “gender gap” is less about Republican appeal to women than it is about male disapproval of the Democrats).
Among independent likely voters, Walker now beats Burke by a whopping 52% to 37% (while among registered independents, surprisingly Burke leads 46% to 40%).
Broken down by party, 92% of self-professed Republicans prefer Walker, over 88% of Democrats who favor Burke. That number is more significant than it might seem: 4% fewer Democrats will automatically pull the lever for Burke than Republicans for Walker.
Favorability ratings are also telling: Among likely voters, only 39% have a favorable opinion of Burke, vs. 49% unfavorable and 12% who have no opinion or have not yet made up their minds (among registered voters, the numbers are 38% favorable, 45% unfavorable, 17% undecided or no opinion). Walker, on the other hand, has a 52% favorable to 46% unfavorable rating among likely voters, and a 49% favorable to 47% unfavorable rating among registered voters.
When asked if each candidate is able to get things done, the sample split evenly for Mary Burke, 43% saying yes and 43% saying no among likely voters; among registered voters, the numbers were 42% yes to 41% no. But few people are in doubt of Walker’s capacity: asked the same question, 65% of likely voters consider him able to get things done, while only 39% say no; among registered voters, the numbers are 63% yes vs. 33% no.
Four other questions have a bearing on the poll’s accuracy. Asked if the state is heading in the right direction, likely voters responded 54% positively and 42% negatively, while 51% of registered voters were in favor as opposed to 44% negative.
Asked if the state budget is better or worse than before Walker, 48% of likely voters approved vs. 26% who disapproved and 20% who thought it the same; among registered voters, the numbers were 44%, 27%, and 23%.
Asked if the changes made during Walker’s first term are good for Wisconsin in the long run, 53% of likely voters answered affirmatively while 40% disagreed; among registered voters, 51% approved vs. 42% disapproved.
The poll indicates that Walker’s Achilles’ heel remains job creation. During the 2010 campaign, Walker promised he would create 250,000 new jobs in his first term. Though well over 100,000 jobs have been created (8,400 in the last month alone), the figure is far short of the mark. When asked if jobs are being created faster in Wisconsin than in other states, only 14% of likely voters answered affirmatively; 38% felt the pace to be about the same and 42% felt the state lags behind other states. Among registered voters, only 12% thought job creation to be faster than elsewhere; the other two numbers were the same.
The poll is consistent and generally favorable for Walker, especially in light of the fact that collection of raw data was completed on Sunday, before the embarrassing campaign event with Obama on Tuesday and the revelation of Mary Burke’s managerial incompetence Wednesday. However, the only poll which really counts closes at 8:00 p.m. Central Time next Tuesday, November 4.