Editor's Note: This is a correction/clarification to the article that ran, which is below: A question on a poll by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute asking respondents whether they opposed or favored "stripping most public employees of their right to collectively bargain over benefits and working conditions as part of a ploy to eliminate public employee unions altogether" was asked of half of the total 603 people polled. The question was part of an experiment to see if responses differed depending on how the question is asked. Fifty-eight percent said they opposed the idea, 32 percent favored it. The other half of respondents were asked whether they opposed or favored "limiting most public employees' ability to negotiate over non-wage issues in order to prevent local union affiliates from obstructing the budgeting process for local governments." Fifty percent opposed the idea, 47 percent favored it. Stories on the poll in Monday's and Tuesday's newspapers did not make the distinction that only half of the respondents were asked each question.
Here is the original version:
A strong majority of Wisconsin residents want Republican Gov. Scott Walker to negotiate with Democrats and public sector unions to find a compromise in the current budget standoff, according to a new poll by the conservative-leaning Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.
Sixty-five percent of survey respondents said Walker "should compromise," while 33 percent said he should "stand strong."
While the percentage of people with a somewhat or strongly favorable opinion of Walker has dropped only slightly since last November, from 45 percent to 43 percent, opposition to him has solidified and increased. Fifty-three percent now have a somewhat or strongly unfavorable opinion of him, up from 35 percent in November.
The poll of 603 Wisconsin residents was conducted between Feb. 27 and March 1, the day Walker gave his biennial budget address. UW-Madison political science professor Ken Goldstein, hired to conduct the poll, said about an equal number of respondents were interviewed each evening, including March 1, and that he did not see a difference in responses night to night.
Goldstein said he was struck by the intensity of people's feelings.
For instance, of the 53 percent with an unfavorable opinion of Walker, the breakdown was 45 percent "strongly disapprove" and 8 percent "somewhat disapprove." Of the 43 percent who support him, 29 percent "strongly approve," and 14 percent "somewhat approve."
"People in general, and Wisconsinites in particular, usually go more toward the middle on questions," he said. "They're going for the extremes on this. Wisconsin residents are polarized."
In polling last year, Republicans were more engaged than Democrats, and independents were trending with Republicans, Goldstein said. "Now what we're seeing is Democrats are more engaged, and independents are trending toward the Democratic and union position on issues," he said.
Not all of the results were good for Democrats. A slight majority, 51 percent, disapprove of the Senate Democrats' decision to leave the state to delay a vote on the budget repair bill, while 47 percent approve.
• Eighty-one percent favor "requiring public employees to contribute to their own pensions," while 18 oppose the idea. (Actually, under current union contracts, the money going to finance the state's retirement system is considered a deferred payment; under Walker's bill, the state would reduce those payments, requiring the difference to come out of employees' take-home pay.)
• Fifty-eight percent oppose "stripping most public employees of their right to collectively bargain over benefits and working conditions as part of a ploy to eliminate public employee unions altogether." Thirty-two percent favor it.
• Seventy-two percent favor raising the income tax on people making more than $150,000 a year, while 27 percent oppose the idea.