Government employees

Reason-Rupe Poll: Walker Leads Barrett 50-42, Obama Leads Romney 46-36

Wisconsin voters support last year's reforms and support additional changes to the way government employees' retirement and health benefits are paid for


Gov. Scott Walker leads Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett 50-42 among those likely to vote in Wisconsin's June 5 recall election, according to a new Reason-Rupe poll of 708 Wisconsin adults on cell phones and landlines. 

In the presidential race, 49 percent of all adults surveyed approve of the job President Obama is doing and 45 percent disapprove. President Obama leads Mitt Romney 46-36 in Wisconsin, with 6 percent selecting the Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson. Obama's margin over Romney shrinks to 45-41 among those likely to vote in June's recall election, with Johnson taking what would be a crucial 5 percent of the vote.

The Reason-Rupe poll finds voters overwhelmingly support many of the key changes Gov. Walker and the legislature implemented on public sector pensions and health care last year. Reason-Rupe finds 72 percent favor the change requiring public sector workers to increase their pension contributions from less than 1 percent to 6 percent of their salaries. And 71 percent favor making government employees pay 12 percent of their own health care premiums instead of the previous 6 percent. 

Taxpayers actually wish state lawmakers had cast an even larger net with their reforms. Police and firefighters were exempted from the pension and health care adjustments but 57 percent of taxpayers say they should not have been. 

The public supports asking government workers to pick up more of the tab for their own retirement benefits, as 65 percent say public sector workers receive better pension and health care benefits than private sector workers. 22 percent say benefit levels are about the same, and just 7 percent believe private sector retirement benefits are better than those in the public sector.

When asked what state and local officials should do if pensions and health benefits are underfunded, 74 percent favor requiring government employees to pay more for their own health care and retirement benefits. In sharp contrast, 75 percent oppose cutting funding for programs like education and 74 percent oppose raising taxes to help fund government worker benefits.

To deal with rising retirement costs, 69 percent favor shifting future state employees, those who haven't been hired or promised pensions yet, to 401(k)-style retirement plans instead of the current defined-benefit plans.

If state and local governments have to reduce spending, voters were asked what should be cut first: 38 percent say public employee pension benefits, 29 percent believe prison and court cuts should be made first, 17 percent would reduce funding for roads and infrastructure, 5 percent chose education, and 4 percent would target health care spending.

Government employee unions are viewed favorably by 35 percent of those surveyed and unfavorably by 31 percent. Voters remain split on limiting the collective bargaining power of public sector unions, with 47 percent in favor of, and 46 percent opposed to, restricting unions' ability to negotiate things like health care and pension benefits.

The Reason-Rupe poll finds significant differences in attitudes between public and private sector employees.  For example, 65 percent of government employees have a favorable view of public employee unions and just 11 percent view unions unfavorably. In contrast, only 27 percent of private sector employees have favorable opinions of public employee unions, while 37 percent view them unfavorably.

And while 72 percent of all respondents favor the law requiring public sector workers to increase their pension contributions, only 48 percent of government employees favor the change, while 80 percent of private sector employees favor it.

The complete Reason-Rupe survey is online here.

This Reason-Rupe poll, conducted May 14-18, 2012 by ORC International, surveyed a random sample of 708 Wisconsin adults on cell phones and landlines. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. The poll includes 609 likely voters who are registered and said they are certain or likely to vote in the June 5 recall election. The margin of error for likely voters is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

This is the latest in a series of Reason-Rupe public opinion surveys dedicated to exploring what Americans really think about government and major issues.  This Reason Foundation project is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation.

Emily Ekins is the director of polling for Reason Foundation where she leads the Reason-Rupe public opinion research project, launched in 2011. Follow her on Twitter @emilyekins.

NEXT: Andrew Napolitano on Why This Memorial Day, Freedom Is Dying Before Our Very Eyes

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Have tr?s examiner les principaux points de la 1s Nike air force mouvement tr?s faibles chaussures de tennis haut de gamme qui ont ?t? pr?s de pour la plupart une longue p?riode. Cette sneaker a maintenant mis en place les mises ? niveau termin?e ? la mi-Semelle ? amortissement en 2007, m?me si n?anmoins se rapporte des milliards d’une ann?e civile pour Nike, puisque vous pouvez reconna?tre la qualit? sup?rieure qui survit baskets disponibles sur le march?. Chaque fois que vous cliquez dans les force1s Nike air que vous aimez, puis cliquez sur dans les photographies et vous aussi serez probablement en mesure d’aller ? la lecture par le biais specifics.Sneakers termin?s initialement d?velopp?s pour les gars et les dames d’athl?tisme, pour qu’ils re?oivent le plus ?lev? de la course, sportives des rassemblements et des jeux de sport vid?o activit?s. ? cette ?poque, ils peuvent ?tre une chaussure pr?f?r?e port? par des centaines tous les coins de la plan?te la plus informelle avoir sur.

  2. Obama leads Mitt Romney 46-36 in Wisconsin, with 6 percent selecting the Libertarian…..-c-19.html Party’s Gary Johnson. Obama’s margin over Romney shrinks to 45-41 among those likely to vote in June’s recall election, with Johnson taking what would be a crucial 5 percent of the vote.

  3. Wear or carry hosiery or pantyhose you would wear for your workplace. Regardless of the sort of hosiery or pantyhose you wear to get effective, you will find you have a far better fit by bringing a set of that leg wear to try on your new Planting season Action footwear.3. Measure your feet with the neat…..10_11.html little metal foot ruler offered by the majority of shoe shops. Measuring your feet is an important part of your decision.

  4. thanks you very good nice admin room’s comment’s cinsel chat & chat sohbet Obama’s jumped the shark you are no longer retaining water.Only two.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.