Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Green Having Trouble Energizing the Base

First there was this comment by conservative radio host Mark Belling in May: "Many in the Republican base are ambivalent about Green. He seems clueless about how to exploit voter anger over high taxes. His record in Congress included a lot of votes for a lot of spending."

And now a recent Badger Poll has found that, among Republican respondents, only 25% strongly support Mark Green. 48% support Green "not so strongly," 13% don't know, and the remaining 13% support Governor Doyle.

Contrast those numbers with Doyle, who has strong support from 58% of Dem respondents, 28% "not so strongly," 11% don't know, and the remaining 4% support Green.

I suggested back in April that Green's fervent support for the constitutional amendment to restrict public revenue in Wisconsin put him on a tightrope walk within the state GOP.

The amendment was a pet issue for the far right in the state, and Green's support for it threatened to alienate some of the moderate GOP who don't support writing restrictive fiscal policy into the state constitution. On the other hand, becoming the de facto ringleader for the amendment -- which Charlie Sykes pegged him as -- put Green in the unenviable position of being a convenient fall guy should the amendment fail.

And fail it did -- big time. Two out of every three legislators in the GOP-controlled Assembly and Senate rejected it. And in what perhaps was a state record, over 80 groups registered with the State Ethics Board to lobby against the amendment -- groups that ranged from local government to religious organizations. Conversely, only five registered in favor of it.

In the aftermath of the failure, Green got tagged by some conservatives on the far right as being a poor leader (hence the Belling quote above) and he likely was tagged by some moderate Republicans as a member of the party's far right (his strict stance against embryonic stem cell research also probably hasn't helped with moderates of the Tommy Thompson mold).

In short, the failure of the amendment knocked Green off his tightrope. And from the looks of the most recent Badger Poll numbers, Green is having a tough time getting back on solid ground with the base of the party.

And that's just really the first step -- the true test for the Green Team is not only connecting with but also energizing that base in light of national trends that show Dem voters are more enthusiastic about pulling the lever this November than Repub voters.

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