Has Gov. Scott Walker overplayed his hand?

Don’t let the headline for this new Wall Street Journal opinion piece fool you: the fight for workers’ rights in Wisconsin goes on.

But Rick Ungar makes the case that nationally, Gov. Scott Walker has hurt the anti-union cause by emboldening union forces in his home state and beyond.

Gov. Scott Walker Has Lost the War

By Rick Ungar – Wall Street Journal – March 4, 2011

In what may be the result of one of the great political miscalculations of our time, Scott Walker’s popularity in his home state is fast going down the tubes.

A Rasmussen poll out today reveals that almost 60% of likely Wisconsin voters now disapprove of their aggressive governor’s performance, with 48% strongly disapproving.

While these numbers are clearly indicators of a strategy gone horribly wrong, there are some additional findings in the poll that I suspect deserve even greater attention.

It turns out that the state’s public school teachers are very popular with their fellow Badgers. With 77% of those polled holding a high opinion of their educators, it is not particularly surprising that only 32% among households with children in the public school system approve of the governor’s performance. Sixty-seven percent (67%) disapprove, including 54% who strongly disapprove.

Can anyone imagine a politician succeeding with numbers like this among people who have kids?

These numbers should be of great concern not only to Governor Walker but to governors everywhere who were planning to follow down the path of war with state employee unions. You can’t take on the state worker unions without taking on the teachers – and the teachers are more popular than Gov. Walker and his cohorts appear to realize.

The “war” of Walker’s title is not the short-term battle of the current legislative struggle in Wisconsin, but the long-term goals of anti-union forces in America. Ungar suggests that by overplaying his hand in Madison, he’s hurt the anti-union cause nationally.

While Governor Walker may yet succeed in getting his budget repair bill through the legislative process and accomplish his goal of reducing collective bargaining to a shell of its former self, the larger battle appears to already be lost. And while Walker – still in the earliest stages of his term-may be able to recover over the next three and a half years, from a national perspective, I don’t know that Walker’s future makes any difference at all.

You should read the whole thing.

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