Eminent Domain

Foxconn Cronyism Could Jeopardize Scott Walker's Re-Election Chances

New poll finds Walker trailing his Democratic rival by five points and that many voters believe the state paid too much to lure Foxconn.


Scott Walker has fallen behind by five points in his bid for re-election to a third term as Wisconsin's governor, trailing his Democratic opponent Tony Evers 44 to 49, according to new a poll from Marquette Law School. Last month, the poll had the two tied at 46 percent each.

Covering the spread is Libertarian candidate Phil Anderson, who pulls 6 percent in this latest poll.

One big issue looming over the election is the deal Walker brokered to bring Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn to the state with a $4.5 billion state and local tax incentive package in return for a promised 13,000 jobs. The village of Mt. Pleasant, where the plant is supposed to be built, is acquiring the land to give to the $103.6 billion company for free. Reason TV covered the fight between Mt. Pleasant and the residents trying to save their homes from eminent domain in the video below.

The Marquette survey polled on the Foxconn question and found mixed results. While a majority of Wisconsinites polled (58 percent) believed that Foxconn would bring economic benefit to the Milwaukee area, only 39 percent believe "the plant will provide at least as much value as the state is investing in the plant." In an August poll, 41 percent believed the plant was worth the cost.

The poll also found that Wisconsin voters are increasingly skeptical of President Trump's tariffs, with only 31 percent believing that tariffs on steel and aluminum will help the economy and 52 percent believing that it will hurt it. The political realignment that Trump has caused is quite apparent on this point, with 59 percent of Wisconsin Republicans saying tariffs are good for the economy and 76 percent of Democrats saying they are bad.

But with polling indicating a stark partisan divide—with 94 percent of registered Republicans supporting Walker and 93 percent of Democrats supporting Evers—the winning candidate will likely need the support of independent voters, a majority of whom (56 percent) answered that tariffs will hurt the economy. And Walker's coziness with Trump, who's tied himself to the Foxconn deal and who made a special trip to Wisconsin after antagonizing Harley-Davidson, one of the state's largest manufacturers, doesn't seem to be helping matters. The poll found that 54 percent of the state's independent voters disapprove of the president's job performance.

Overall, 52 percent of independents polled favored Evers, with 32 percent favoring Walker and 13 percent favoring the Libertarian Anderson.

So with independents breaking for his opponent and a Libertarian candidate currently covering the spread, it seems that Walker, who once celebrated the rise of governors with a "libertarian view" of government, may have miscalculated in turning away from free market principles and towards the cronyism and protectionism of the Trump administration.