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Independent Voters and Turnout, Keys to Wisconsin Recall Election

by Thomas G. Brown, published

Wisconsin Governor Republican Scott Walker, was elected in 2010. After his election on a reform agenda to cut government waste, his first major step towards this goal was to sign into law measures to put an end to collective bargaining for most public sector workers in the state.

Under Governor Walker's controversial plan, public employees would also have to pay more into their own health care and retirement savings to take some of the burden off the taxpayer.

Even though the Democratic and Republican Parties want to use this election as an example of which side has superior ideas and will prevail in the 2012 presidential race, the recall election happening in Wisconsin Tuesday will say a lot more about which direction that independent voters want to take this country.

A recent Salon article reports that 38% of Americans are classified as Independent when it comes to electoral politics in contrast to 32% Democrat and 24% Republican. If you look at the latest Public Policy Poll taken in Wisconsin, the largest group of undecided voters in the Wisconsin recall election are independents.

As with all elections, turnout will play an important role in Wisconsin. It seems that turnout numbers close to 60% would not be surprising, according to the Government Accountability Board of Wisconsin. If these numbers turn out to be accurate, it would most likely fall to the independents to decide the election, as they are the group that has the highest number of undecideds a day before the election at 6%.

With Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Tom Barrett separated by only a 3-point margin among all voters, that 6% of undecided independent voters could make all the difference, especially since Republicans and Democrats have already made up their minds with only 1% and 2% of Democrats and Republicans respectively undecided.

Much like the top-two open primary elections in California on Tuesday, the Wisconsin recall election will be a major opportunity for independents to make a difference, and independent voters across the nation will be watching.

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